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Offseason Outlook: Oakland Athletics

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Athletics.  Their likely commitments for 2010:

C - Kurt Suzuki - $410K
C - Landon Powell - $400K
1B - Daric Barton - $410K
2B - Mark Ellis - $5.5MM
SS - Cliff Pennington - $400K
3B - Eric Chavez - $12MM
IF - Gregorio Petit - $405K
LF - Scott Hairston - $1.25MM+
CF - Rajai Davis - $410K
RF - Ryan Sweeney - $410K
OF - Travis Buck - $410K
DH - Jack Cust - $2.8MM+
IF/OF - Eric Patterson - $405K 

SP - Dallas Braden - $410K
SP - Brett Anderson - $400K
SP - Trevor Cahill - $400K
SP - Gio Gonzalez - $405K
SP - Vin Mazzaro - $400K

RP - Mike Wuertz - $1.1MM+
RP - Brad Ziegler - $405K 
RP - Andrew Bailey - $400K
RP - Joey Devine - $410K+
RP - Craig Breslow - $422K
RP - Jerry Blevins - $405K
RP - Brad Kilby - $400K

Non-tender candidates: Jack Cust, Santiago Casilla

Other commitments: Jason Giambi - $1.25MM

The A's have about $30.8MM committed before arbitration raises to Hairston, Cust, Wuertz, Casilla, and Devine.  Cust and Casilla are non-tender candidates, so we'll estimate a mid-$30MM commitment for 2010.  According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the A's entered 2009 with a $62.3MM payroll.  There hasn't been any indication that the A's plan to be big spenders this winter, but if payroll is held steady GM Billy Beane would have roughly $25MM to work with.

The 2009 A's ranked 11th in the AL with a .328 OBP and last with a .397 SLG.  The offense had more of a middle-of-the-pack performance in the second half, with Davis, Sweeney, Cust, and Barton leading the way.  Despite the improvement, the most obvious area for improvement in 2010 is the offense.

The rebuilding thing to do would be to give Barton one more chance to prove he can hit outside of the month of September.  Powerful prospect Chris Carter is another option.  But there would be little harm in adding a 2010 stopgap, someone like Russell Branyan, Carlos Delgado, or Nick Johnson.

Third base is a similar situation - Brett Wallace may not be ready yet, and the A's can't count on Chavez.  Why not entertain signing Adrian Beltre or Troy Glaus?  Shortstop frontrunner Pennington is also unproven, but the free agent market isn't terribly appealing.

With Davis and Sweeney taking outfield spots, DH and left field are other possible areas to upgrade.  MLB.com's Mychael Urban feels Beane is leaning toward tendering a contract to Cust, whose 25 home runs led the team (his .417 SLG was less inspiring).  If Beane decides to make a change, he can choose from plenty of free agent DH candidates for the same $3-4MM Cust would make.  We haven't heard anything about Hairston being a non-tender candidate, though he was awful in Oakland.

The A's have a stacked bullpen, especially if Devine comes back strong.  One veteran free agent play for the rotation would make sense, someone like Erik Bedard, Justin Duchscherer, Randy Johnson, or Ben Sheets

Though Oakland's veteran additions for 2009 didn't work out, fans presumably appreciated them taking a shot at contention.  I think Beane should make a similar attempt to supplement the club for 2010; he could again do so without harming the long-term health of the franchise.








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