A’s Have Team Control Without Extensions

It’s no secret that the A’s have extended starting pitchers aggressively over the course of the past decade. Oakland GM Billy Beane says it’s a blueprint for success for teams with limited revenue and he has put that theory to the test. Tim Hudson, Barry Zito, Mark Mulder, Dan Haren, Rich Harden, Brett Anderson and, now, Trevor Cahill have all signed long-term deals early on in their MLB careers. 

Gio, Dallas

Naturally, fans, reporters and players themselves are wondering which starter is next in line for an extension. It could be Dallas Braden, author of a perfect game and many a memorable quote. It could be Gio Gonzalez, the promising left-hander who reached the 200 inning plateau last year, posting a 3.23 ERA with 171 strikeouts. Or, for a while at least, it could be no one at all.

Technically speaking, Braden and Gonzalez (both pictured) aren’t under contract beyond 2011. The urge to extend them and solidify the rotation for the foreseeable future is understandable. In a way, the Athletics’ current rotation is a successor to the big three of Hudson, Zito and Mulder. Locking a number of starters up before free agency seems like the logical course of action for a team like the A’s, which embraces these extensions. 

But in practice, Braden and Gonzalez are A’s property through at least 2013 even though they don’t have formal extensions. Braden is under control for 2012-13 (estimated $14.5MM total cost through arbitration) and Gonzalez is under control for 2012-15 (estimated $26MM total cost through arbitration). 

Essentially the A’s have two club options for Braden and four club options for Gonzalez without guaranteeing either pitcher a dime beyond 2011. Beane can release or non-tender either starter at his convenience if he determines they’re no longer worth what they’d make through arbitration. As is usually the case with players who have yet to hit free agency, the team has most of the power.

There are potential advantages to signing Braden or Gonzalez to an extension. Long-term deals cap arbitration earnings, often provide the team with extremely valuable options for free agent years and allow the players to focus on performing, rather than earning. 

At some point, however the risks associated with extensions outweigh those advantages. Extensions usually provide players with guaranteed money through their arbitration years, instead of rewarding them according to their performance. As a result, the deals can backfire when players get injured or perform poorly.

The A’s could emerge with more team-friendly contracts by signing Braden or Gonzalez to the right long-term deal. But they are no doubt aware that there’s no pressing need for extensions, since their rotation is already under long-term control.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.

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10 Comments on "A’s Have Team Control Without Extensions"

4 years 4 months ago

I like Braden but I don’t know that I really want to see the A’s lock him up long term. I feel there are pitchers in the minor leagues who by the time he’s done with arbitration might be better served in the rotation. If he’s willing to sign for a Brett anderson type deal then I wouldnt have a problem with it. Gio however needs to be locked up first before he gets any better

4 years 4 months ago

funny thing but why are there no Hispanic, African or Asian names listed.

4 years 4 months ago

They gave Kurt Suzuki an extension. They tried to sign a Japanese pitcher. They signed Hideki Matsui.
They have traded and signed some young hispanic pitchers, but that hasnt worked out yet due to injury (Ynoa, Faustino de Los Santos).
They drafted and traded for Michael Choice, M. Taylor and Jemile Weeks recently.
I’m sure if any of these guys do well at the major league level the A’s will offer them extensions. It just hasn’t happened yet.

4 years 4 months ago

You seem to forget the Beltre offers.

4 years 4 months ago

Seriously. At least a dozen of the white kids I went to school with were named Giovany Gonzalez.

4 years 4 months ago

I love Dallas Braden. As a pitcher, as a teammate, a person and even as a Twitter-er…however, he has some very concerning injury issues. He can’t feel half of his toes in one of his feet…in the minors, he relied a lot on a legit screwball that definitely put a lot of stress on his elbow and shoulder…

It breaks my heart to say, since he’s such a proud local NoCaler and awesome dude, but he’s just not a great candidate for a long-term deal with a budget-conscious team like the A’s. The only way it makes sense is if he really wants security and to stay close to Stockton for at least a few years and the team throws him a bone for pitching a perfect game, being proud of the area and is willing to take a big risk after his botched surgery – something like $15 million over the next 3 years – like $4 million in 2012, $5 million in 2013 and $6 million in 2014. That way, even if he ends up in the bullpen within a year and a half for whatever reason, he’s still not a huge burden or overpaid from the team’s perspective. Knowing his competitive, contrarian nature, I doubt that deal ever materializes, and he’ll likely go year-to-year through 2013 or, I hate to say it, traded to make room for a prospect to augment Brett, Trevor and Gio…

As for Gio, he has two big things going for him: health and strikeout rate. If I were the A’s, I’d gamble on those two facts and live with a bit of a high-walk rate knowing that Gio will pitch half of his games during the duration of his extension at the homer-surpressing Oakland Coliseum in front of a generally good defense. Something in between Brett’s $12.5 guaranteed and Trevor’s $30.5 guaranteed would likely be sufficient, maybe for the next 4-5 years.

4 years 4 months ago

I agree, but it is interesting to note that the A’s have scored 2 runs or less in over half of his career starts. His numbers would look a lot prettier if the team could hit.

4 years 4 months ago

Sign Gio next, while he is still affordable. He has got his stuff together, and is only going to get better.

4 years 4 months ago

I lol’d at the little picture

4 years 4 months ago

lol, that is quite the “bro-hug” there!