It’s no secret that the Oakland Athletics have been seeking a second left-hander for their bullpen to join Daniel Coulombe.
The Oakland Athletics found that lefty, one they had been trying to acquire since 2015, Monday in a trade with the Kansas City Royals.
Oakland acquired left-hander Ryan Buchter whom they had gone after when he was a minor league free-agent back in 2015 along with a familiar face and fan favorite in slugger Brandon Moss from the Royals in exchange for pitchers Jesse Hahn and Heath Fillmyer.
Buchter, who will turn 31 on February 13, has had a long road to the majors. Drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 33rd round of the 2005 draft, he finally made his big league debut with the Atlanta Braves in 2014, pitching just a single inning.
After bouncing around the Triple-A teams of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Chicago Cubs, he became a minor league free agent after the 2015 season. The A’s wanted to sign Buchter back then but ultimately lost out to the San Diego Padres.
Buchter started the 2016 season with the Padres Triple-A team but pitched only one inning prior to being called up to the big league club. He finally exceeded his rookie limits with the Padres in 2016 pitching 63.0 innings over 67 appearances posting a 2.86 ERA. Despite averaging a slightly terrifying 4.4 walks per nine innings that season, he also averaged 11.1 strikeouts per nine innings.
2017 was a good year for Buchter. Despite being traded on July 24 from the Padres to the Royals, he posted a 2.89 ERA over 65.1 innings between the two teams, lowered his walks per nine innings to 3.6 and kept up a good nine K’s per nine innings.
Overall, Buchter is an interesting and somewhat different type of pitcher who, according to MLB Trade Rumors is “able to consistently out-perform his peripheral statistics.”
For example, Buchter has a career 2.85 ERA and a 4.68 xFIP (xFIP is calculated similarly to FIP but it replaces a pitchers home run total with the number of home runs they should have allowed due to the number of fly balls they allowed), what this doesn’t account for in Buchter’s case is that almost all of his fly balls are infield pop-ups that result in outs 99.9% of the time.
His 16.7% infield fly ball rate (IFFB) over the past two seasons ranks 10th in the majors among qualified relievers. Also, while he’s held right-handers to a low overall batting line, he is even tougher against left-handers which is exactly what the A’s need, holding them to a .160/.255/.306 batting line.
He’s pitched 63.0 and 65.1 innings over the past two seasons which is exactly what the Oakland Athletics need, given their very young and unproven rotation.
The young rotation will have definite talent but it needs to be realized on the field and the starters need to begin pitching deeper into games. So the relievers added by the A’s this offseason such as Yusmeiro Petit, Emilio Pagan and now Buchter are the types needed who can pitch multiple innings for the club to offset shorter outings by the team’s starting rotation.
The A’s had wanted Buchter since 2015 and now they’ve got their talented lefty. Buchter is under team control through 2021 and is excited to be in Oakland saying,
“It sounds like no wasn’t good enough for them and they found their way back around to acquire me and be able to pick me up somehow. Obviously when you’re traded, it means somebody wants you. I like the direction that Oakland is headed. They’re trying to compete within that division.”
It appears that bringing in Buchter should be a good fit for both him and the Oakland Athletics.