The Athletics are next in our 2012 Contract Issues series. Here's what the team faces after the 2011 season:
Eligible For Free Agency (7)
- David DeJesus, Mark Ellis, Josh Willingham, Coco Crisp, Hideki Matsui, and Conor Jackson have accounted for 729 plate appearances this year, about 54% of the team's total. Throw in non-tender candidate Kevin Kouzmanoff and that rises past 60%, so the offense could see huge turnover. Jackson is getting on base, and Willingham is showing some pop, but so far this large group of position players is failing offensively. There is plenty of time to turn things around, and players such as Ellis, Crisp, and DeJesus are also valued for their defense. Still, the team's top outfield prospects are not ready to make an impact in 2012, so offense could again be a problem.
- Rich Harden is also eligible for free agency.
Contract Options (1)
- Michael Wuertz: $3.25MM club option with a $250K buyout. Wuertz missed time with shoulder and hamstring injuries, but he's been sharp in the early going. The A's will probably pick up his option.
Arbitration Eligible (14)
- First time: Andrew Bailey, Daric Barton, Adam Rosales, Jerry Blevins, Gio Gonzalez, Landon Powell
- Second time: Dallas Braden, Ryan Sweeney, Craig Breslow, Brad Ziegler, Andy LaRoche
- Third time: Kevin Kouzmanoff, Brandon McCarthy, Joey Devine
There might be a few non-tenders here, such as Kouzmanoff, but this is a huge arbitration class for Oakland. Bailey will not have the 100 career saves that Bobby Jenks and Jonathan Papelbon did, but he could still get $3MM+. Barton may also be in that range, Braden should stay there, and Gonzalez could reach $4MM. Sweeney, Breslow, and Ziegler could get close to $2MM each. McCarthy is tough to predict, and keep in mind that these are just rough estimates in all cases. Assuming only Kouzmanoff is cut loose I'll put this group in the $25MM range.
2012 Payroll Obligation
The Athletics' 2012 payroll obligation, according to Cot's, is $24.238MM if Wuertz is retained. Double that number to account for the arbitration eligibles, and the A's are about $17MM below this year's payroll. Jemile Weeks could take over at second base, but the team would need to figure out third base, DH, and all three outfield spots. GM Billy Beane will probably have to work the trade market to find affordable, useful players for some of those openings.