A's add pair of veteran arms in Stripling, Wood

February 3rd, 2024

Coming into the offseason, the A's were looking to supplement a young and inexperienced pitching staff with a veteran-type starter who can provide guidance. On Friday, they added a pair of arms who fit that mold.

In addition to officially announcing the signing of veteran left-hander Alex Wood to a one-year, $8.5 million deal, the A’s pulled off a rare transaction with their rivals across the bay, acquiring right-hander Ross Stripling from the Giants in exchange for Minor League outfielder Jonah Cox. To clear space on Oakland's 40-man roster, left-hander Francisco Perez was outrighted to Triple-A Las Vegas and infielder Jonah Bride was designated for assignment.

The A’s will also be acquiring cash considerations in the deal. Stripling is due to make $12.5 million this upcoming season in what will be the final year of a two-year, $25 million deal he signed with San Francisco in December 2022.

A’s get: RHP Ross Stripling, cash
Giants get: OF Jonah Cox

Wood, an All-Star in 2017 with the Dodgers, has proven to be a durable arm over his career by going 76-65 with a 3.74 ERA over 269 games (202 starts) in 11 big league seasons. After combining for 269 1/3 innings from 2021-22 as a mainstay of the Giants’ rotation, he was utilized in more of a swingman role in ‘23. Dealing with separate back and hamstring injuries, the 33-year-old made 12 starts and appeared in a total of 29 games, posting a 4.33 ERA with 74 strikeouts and 42 walks in 97 2/3 innings.

“Just talking to him, you see how intelligent and engaged he is with the game,” A’s general manager David Forst said of Wood. “He immediately started asking questions about our roster and the catchers. He wanted to talk pitching. You see the experience. … He’s had years where he made 30-plus starts. Coming off the last couple of years in San Francisco, I know it was important for him to go somewhere where he had an opportunity to make 30-plus starts and remind people that he is a starter.”

Stripling, also an All-Star with the Dodgers in 2018, is 38-43 with a 3.96 ERA in 226 games, including 115 starts, in eight seasons in the Majors with the Dodgers (2016-20), Blue Jays (2020-22) and Giants (2023). The 34-year-old worked in a role similar to Wood with San Francisco last season and was 0-5 with a 5.36 ERA and an .818 opponents' OPS in 22 games (11 starts), with 70 strikeouts and just 16 walks in 89 innings.

For an Oakland rotation that tied a Major League record with 24 starting pitchers used last season and whose 738 innings pitched were the least by any staff in the American League, Wood and Stripling bring track records that the A’s are hopeful will help provide more stability in that area. Reporting for Spring Training on Feb. 14 in Mesa, Ariz., both will arrive viewed as starters.

“We’ve talked pretty much all offseason about the need for starting pitching and depth,” Forst said. “These guys are more than depth. You’re talking about two veteran guys with experience who have pitched in the World Series. This is kind of exactly what I think we need with a relatively young and inexperienced starting pitching staff.”

Wood and Stripling will slot into the rotation along with Paul Blackburn and JP Sears, giving the A’s four rotation locks. Assuming they open up with a traditional five-man rotation, the final spot could come down to a Spring Training competition that includes right-handers Luis Medina, Joe Boyle, Joey Estes and Mitch Spence. Left-hander Ken Waldichuk, who was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain and UCL ligament sprain shortly after the season ended in October, remains sidelined from throwing and is not expected to be ready for the start of the regular season.

“We started last season with [four] rookie starters and it didn’t go well, so I think this was an important step to add these kinds of guys,” Forst said. “Make sure we have enough depth, because you’re not getting through a season with five or six guys. There’s nothing wrong with having too much starting pitching.”