Arbitration Eligibles: Oakland Athletics

Matt Swartz has developed a very accurate model that MLBTR uses to project arbitration salaries, as explained in this series of posts. We've heard from many MLB teams and agencies that reference the projections in their work.  The Athletics are next in our series.  Estimated service time is in parentheses, and estimated 2014 salary follows.

Anderson is the team's most interesting case.  After a 6.04 ERA in 44 2/3 innings, we are not projecting an arbitration raise for the 25-year-old southpaw, so we're going with his 2013 salary of $5.5MM.  His 2013 salary, however, was part of a four-year deal Anderson signed in 2010.  For 2014, the A's have the choice of an $8MM option or a $1.5MM buyout, and GM Billy Beane told reporters including Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle it's likely the option will be exercised.  If the A's instead decline the option and pay the buyout plus our projected arbitration salary, they could save around a million dollars.  However, declining the 2014 option would nullify a 2015 option for $12MM (which also  has a $1.5MM buyout).  It appears, then, that the A's find it worth $1MM or so now to have the ability to retain Anderson for 2015 at $12MM.  That's curious for a guy who hasn't reached 100 innings since 2010 due to injuries, but perhaps the A's will end up trading Anderson this winter anyway.

Position players Lowrie, Moss, and Jaso are on solid ground for 2014.  Lowrie stayed healthy for a full season for the first time in his career, and enters his contract year looking for a repeat.  The A's could look into a team-friendly extension, if Lowrie prefers financial security over playing out 2014 and reaching free agency.  Even shielded against lefties, Moss smacked 30 home runs as the team's primary first baseman.  Also avoiding southpaws, Jaso did his job, ranking second in on-base percentage among all catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.  His season ended with a late July concussion, but he should be OK for 2014.

Reddick saw his power sapped by an April wrist injury, for which he is having offseason surgery.  The A's will retain him.  Smith's production slipped this year, and even against righties his slugging percentage slipped to .408.  He came up big in the division series with a home run against Anibal Sanchez, but at $4.3MM next year I think the A's will non-tender him.

Blevins and Chavez have modest salary projections and should be part of next year's bullpen.  Neshek's ERA was down to 2.10 at the end of June, after which point he posted a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings and was designated for assignment.  He remained in the organization and had his contract purchased in September, but seems likely to be non-tendered.  Rodriguez joined the A's from the Astros in the February Jed Lowrie deal, but needed Tommy John surgery in late March.  Though he's arbitration eligible as a Super Two, he doesn't project to make more than the league minimum, so the A's just have to decide if they want to use a 40-man roster spot on him.

The A's retained Barton through arbitration last offseason for $1.1MM, but designated him for assignment as spring training ended.  He was outrighted to Triple-A, found his way back to the Majors in May, and then was designated and outrighted again.  He came back in August and even made the postseason roster over Nate Freiman.  Barton posted another OBP over .400 in Triple-A this year, but I think the 28-year-old will be non-tendered this time.  Sizemore is also on the bubble after re-tearing his ACL a few games into the season.

Since the A's expect to pick up Anderson's option, we won't include him in our arbitration estimate.  If the A's tender contracts to Lowrie, Moss, Jaso, Reddick, Blevins, and Chavez, they're looking at an estimated $15.1MM for six arbitration eligible players. 


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