What's left for A's? Southpaw reliever tops list

December 18th, 2017

OAKLAND -- The relief market is abuzz these days, and the A's are among the many teams watching with close interest as names continue to come off the board in swift succession.

That doesn't mean the late shoppers are without options.

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"We do still have a number of active conversations," A's general manager David Forst said last week. "You can see what relief costs on the free-agent market right now, so we're having to contend with that and still work within our budget parameters.

"It's hard to say when we're going to get there, but we continue to work on the left-handed reliever."

The A's tend to lean heavily on the trade market when looking to revamp their roster, but they're not ruling out the free-agent route in their search for additional bullpen help. In fact, it's more likely a deal gets done this way, considering they already dipped into their farm system to complete a trade for outfielder last week, with infield prospects and going to St. Louis.

It wouldn't be the first time this offseason the club has reeled in a free-agent reliever; just a couple of weeks ago, the A's landed veteran right-hander , luring him with a two-year, $10 million deal that includes a club option for 2020.

The A's have an abundance of right-handers, but they have only one lefty in . There are several out on the open market who could soon keep him company:

Tony Watson

The 32-year-old just might be the best remaining lefty out there. Watson split his time between the Pirates and Dodgers last year, combining for a 3.38 ERA over 71 appearances while taking home $5.6 million. Not once in his seven big league seasons has he posted an ERA above 4.00, and he's been particularly excellent against lefties, holding them to a .216 average -- though that number jumped to .276 in 2017. His career WHIP of 1.086 is also desirable.

Duensing, 34, could be a bargain buy for the A's after quietly enjoying a solid season with the Cubs. After minor elbow surgery limited him to 14 appearances in 2016, Duensing pitched in 68 games for the Cubs in 2017, exiting with a 2.74 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 62 1/3 innings at a cost of $2 million. The former starter has managed to keep his career ERA as a reliever at 3.57.

Perez, 36, turned in a 4.64 ERA over 50 appearances for the Nationals last season, holding lefties to a .227 average, .665 OPS and one home run in 73 matchups. He fanned 39 batters in 33 innings, walking 12. The 15-year veteran, whose career ERA sits at 4.46, was given $4 million last year.

Logan's $7 million club option for 2018 was declined by the Indians after back issues kept him off the field for most of the second half. The 33-year-old finished with a 4.71 ERA, totaling 28 strikeouts in 21 innings. He's averaged more than 11 strikeouts per nine innings in six consecutive seasons, but his walk numbers have also been high in that span.