The Oakland A’s lost most of their 2021 bullpen to free agency this winter, and two of them found new homes over the past week.
Last Wednesday, the Detroit Tigers signed lefty Andrew Chafin to a two-year, $13 million contract. The deal includes a player opt-out clause after 2022.
This Wednesday, the Seattle Mariners signed righty Sergio Romo to a one-year, $2 million contract, reports MLB insider Jesse Sanchez along with Joel Sherman of the NY Post. The deal is pending a physical.
Romo spent all of last season in Oakland, overcoming a slow start to reel off four sparkling months from May-Aug. He stumbled again down the stretch, finishing with the highest ERA of his career (4.67), but his loopy slider still missed bats and he still racked up a strikeout per inning. He posted a league-average FIP, and Statcast liked his underlying data, so he’ll get a new chance with a win-now contender at age 39 and become a division rival in the process.
Chafin arrived at the July trade deadline and did fantastic work for the A’s the rest of the summer. It wasn’t enough to save the club’s postseason hopes, as the bullpen continued to melt down despite his helpful contributions, but that doesn’t change how great he was. His overall 1.83 ERA was a career-best, and it included a 1.53 mark in 29⅓ innings after being acquired by Oakland.
The A’s have a lot of space to fill in the bullpen this spring. Among relievers who threw at least 15 innings for the team last year, only Lou Trivino and Deolis Guerra remain, though a couple of the departed free agents are still unsigned on the open market.
Analysis: Is a fresh start such a bad thing for Oakland’s bullpen, considering how hard last year’s group busted? These are reasonable and affordable prices for Chafin and Romo, but during a rebuilding winter when money has never been tighter, I’m happy to build a cheap pen and spend elsewhere. The single area where the A’s have had their best success over the past three decades has been building cheap bullpens using overlooked castoffs, so let’s try that again.
Here’s the updated list of Oakland’s free agents, including info for those who have already signed somewhere:
LHP Andrew Chafin(DET, 2/$13m)
LHP Jake Diekman(BOS, 2/$8m)
- RHP Mike Fiers
- RHP Yusmeiro Petit
RHP Sergio Romo(SEA, 1/$2m)
- RHP Trevor Rosenthal
RHP Burch Smith(to Japan)
C Yan Gomes(CHC, 2/$13m)
UT Josh Harrison(CHW, 1/$6m)
- 2B Jed Lowrie
OF Mark Canha(NYM, 2/$26m)
OF Starling Marte(NYM, 4/$78m)
- DH Khris Davis
- DH Mitch Moreland
Best of luck to Chafin and Romo with their new clubs!