Oakland A’s: Bringing Joakim Soria back could make sense

OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Joakim Soria #48 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during Game One of the Wild Card Round against the Chicago White Sox at RingCentral Coliseum on September 29, 2020 in Oakland, California. The White Sox defeated the Athletics 4-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images)
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 29: Joakim Soria #48 of the Oakland Athletics pitches during Game One of the Wild Card Round against the Chicago White Sox at RingCentral Coliseum on September 29, 2020 in Oakland, California. The White Sox defeated the Athletics 4-1. (Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images) /
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Joakim Soria did not exactly inspire much confidence amongst Oakland A’s fans. Nonetheless, it is worth considering bringing him back for 2021.

The Oakland A’s are not likely to bring many of their free agents back. They are not about to get involved in any bidding wars, and their ongoing budgetary concerns are even more pronounced this offseason. As such, free agency may be even quieter than usual in Oakland.

While the A’s may want to bring back several of their own free agents, notably Marcus Semien and Tommy La Stella, that may not happen. Both players could end up priced out of their range, leaving the A’s in search of a new middle infield. That does not mean that Oakland will be unable to bring any of their own players back, as they may be able to afford a pair of their relievers – Yusmeiro Petit and Joakim Soria.

Of that duo, Soria may be the more important reliever to bring back. The ninth inning is wide open for the A’s as Liam Hendriks is going to depart for a larger payday elsewhere. Soria has plenty of closing experience, having notched 223 saves in his major league career.

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His 2020 campaign was reasonably solid. Soria posted a 2.82 ERA and a 1.254 WHiP over his 22.1 innings, striking out 24 batters with ten walks. While his BB/9 rate of 4.0 was his worst since 2013, Soria managed to limit the damage effectively with a solid 7.3 hit/9 rate.

Soria’s metrics for 2020 also paint a reasonably positive picture. Opposing hitters only barreled his offerings 3.2% of the time, ranking in the 94th percentile. His expecting batting line against of .202/.248/.303 was also amongst the better marks in the league. He may not be able to blow many batters away, but he generated plenty of soft contact.

He is not the type of signing that would really excite anyone. However, Soria could fill that void in the ninth inning and allow the A’s to move Jake Diekman back into a setup role. As the only lefty in the bullpen, Diekman could be far more valuable in other roles.

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Joakim Soria would fit the Oakland A’s budget and give the team a proven closer. With as many holes as the A’s need to fill, Soria could be a solid option to return for one more year.

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