The Oakland Athletics acquired Sam Long just a month into the 2023 season with the hopes of adding some maturity and versatility to their staff. They got both, but in return, Long had some of his worst outings and numbers to date.
Oakland acquired Long from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for cash on April 23.
What were the expectations?
As was the case in San Francisco, Long was expected to provide depth to the A’s bullpen with the ability to pitch for longer stretches and even spot start if and when need be.
Long did a little bit of everything for the A’s staff as a reliever with five holds, two saves and a game started. Long was knocked around for a 5.60 ERA and 9.80 H/9 during the season and spent much of the final two months moving back and forth from Triple-A Las Vegas to Oakland. Long also had his worst numbers control-wise with 21 walks in his 45 innings of work, good for a BB/9 of 4.20. Overall, Long had a -0.2 WAR for the A’s.
What went wrong? What went right?
While looking at Long’s season versus his previous few, it’s evident that 2023 was his worst. In just about the same amount of innings as years past, Long’s strikeout numbers were down and opponents' batting average was up, while his walk numbers were also high. Long did, however, still provide a versatile arm who can start, relieve, or close a game if need be.
Long is set to be a free agent this offseason entering his age 28 season. He could very likely get another chance to be the same Swiss army knife arm he’s been used to for a few years now, but the chances could also be dwindling for the lefty who’s entering just his third full season in the big leagues.