Soon now, the A's will be making the decision to exercise club options on certain players or pay the buy out and let the player walk away. But is there a third option regarding one particular A's player?
The Athletics holds an $8M option on Brett Anderson, versus a $1.5M payout. The consensus around the blogosphere is that the option will be picked up, at which point Anderson might find himself trade bait. But I believe there is a wrinkle here, that if I understand correctly, the A's might decide to explore. Unlike say, Chris Young, Anderson will not become a free agent if his option is not exercised, because he would still be under team control. Instead, he will become arbitration eligible. Last season, Anderson made $5.75M. With the disaster that was last season, he is obviously very unlikely to receive a raise of any kind beyond that salary if he goes to arbitration. So declining the option but retaining Anderson would result in a net savings of around $750K.
And there is another potential benefit to this strategy. If the A's decide not to exercise the option for the upcoming season, the $12M option for 2015 would obviously become void. This might make Anderson more attractive to other teams looking to make a trade, as they would only be on the hook for Anderson's salary in 2014. They would also not have to worry about the possibility of the $1.5M buy out next season if things do not work out. Of course, if Anderson performs well next season, perhaps a team would end up wishing that option was still there for the taking. However, on the whole, I believe due to Brett's high injury risk he becomes more attractive to potential trading partners with less "guaranteed" money attached to him. Of course, it is also possible that the A's would simply prefer to retain Anderson in this way, regardless of any trade plans.
It is possible that Anderson would become upset if the A's declined the contract option but hoped to keep Brett on. However, considering the difficult season he had, and how much time he has missed due to injury thus far in his A's career, I believe Anderson would accept such a decision as a fair one. He needs only to stay healthy and pitch well in 2014 to secure a lucrative contract beyond next season.