The Oakland Athletics have continued their strong start to February, acquiring right-handed pitcher Ross Stripling from the cross-town Giants in exchange for minor league outfielder Jonah Cox.
Stripling signed a two-year, $25m contract with the Giants last off-season. He elected his player-option this offseason for the remaining $12.5m left on the deal.
According to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic, the Giants are sending $3.25m over to Oakland in the trade, leaving the A's responsible for the remaining $9.25m.
The righty fell off quite a bit in his first year in San Francisco. He threw 89 innings between the rotation and the bullpen and made starts in 11 of his 22 appearances.
In total, he pitched to a 5.36 ERA with a 5.21 FIP. He struck out just over 18% of batters, well below the league average of 22%, and his 22% HR/FB rate was 10th worst among all pitchers who threw at least 50 innings.
The performance issues may have been due to injury, however. Stripling spent a total of 67 days on the IL in 2023, working through two different back strains. He posted his lowest innings total in a full season since 2017, when he was a full-time relief pitcher. He was well off his career 3.96 ERA and 21.9% K-rate.
Despite the injuries, Stripling was much better in the second half of the year. In roughly the same number of innings, Stripling pitched to a 4.50 ERA in the second half compared to a mark of 6.37 in the first half. His second-half strikeout rate dipped slightly, but he reduced his walk rate from 6.1% to an impressive 2.5%.
The A's will hope that Stripling can recapture some of that second half success that aligns more closely with his career numbers. Despite some of his recent success, he's quite a bit removed from his lone All-Star appearance with the Dodgers back in 2018.
Although the Giants utilized him as a reliever a fair amount, the Athletics will almost certainly look to use him as a starter heading into the spring. Stripling will join a pitching staff that just added Alex Wood, who was Stripling's former teammate in Los Angeles.
Heading into the offseason, the A's were concerningly devoid of pitching talent. They've added a few pieces in Stripling, Wood, Osvaldo Bido, and Mitch Spence who should at least make the conversation interesting during spring training, even if they don't offer elite upside.
Stripling will immediately become the highest paid player on the A's roster. His $9.25m slightly edges the $8.5m that the A's just gave Alex Wood. The two players combined will increase the A's cash payroll by nearly 30% for the 2024 season.
We'll have to wait and see if the A's make any more additions to a roster that desperately needs improvements across the board. These last two pitching additions are interesting low-cost, medium upside plays that have a chance to work out well for Mark Kotsay and company.