Baseball / MLB

Athletics hand pitcher Mike Fiers two-year deal

AP

Free agent right-hander Mike Fiers agreed to a two-year contract worth more than $14 million to stay with the Oakland Athletics, who were determined to find an experienced starter this offseason to help lead a young rotation.

They brought him back less than a month after not tendering him a contract. Fiers will earn $6 million in 2019 and $8.1 million in 2020.

Oakland would like to add another starter, too, realizing it must provide depth given all the injuries last season. Ace Sean Manaea is recovering from shoulder surgery and not expected back until at least the All-Star break.

“We were pretty clear, and it’s pretty obvious, starting rotation was an area we absolutely had to address,” Billy Beane, the Athletics’ executive vice president of baseball operations, said on a conference call Monday after the team announced Fiers’ deal. “… It’s all about the starters right now. We have to be opportunistic and patient.”

Oakland acquired Fiers in August from Detroit, and he helped the club reach the playoffs for the first time since 2014. He went 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA in 10 outings with nine starts after joining Oakland, which lost the AL wild-card game at New York.

Beane credits the 33-year-old Fiers for being “a reliable guy throughout his career,” which is key for the Athletics given all the injuries to their rotation.

“He did a great job for us after the acquisition,” Beane said.

Jharel Cotton had Tommy John surgery in March, followed by three others who also underwent the elbow ligament replacement surgery: opening day starter Kendall Graveman, Daniel Gossett and top prospect A.J. Puk.

Fiers provided some much-needed stability.

He was 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA in 30 starts and 31 overall appearances and 172 innings in 2018 between the Tigers and A’s.