We have been in the process too many times now, where we have seen the construction and dissolution of our team over the last 15 years. At this point we all understand about the 5-year to 7 year window that BB can work with in order to contend at a high level.
I would like to explore which players would be the best options for signing through their arbitration years. Starting off with the pitching staff it appears our closer is now locked into a multi-year contract that appears to be a tremendous preemptive strike (no pun intended) in regards to Sean Doolittle's abilities.
With the frequency of pitchers receiving ulnar collateral ligament replacements (TJ surgery), how much of a risk are we taking with the rest of our staff who are signed to 1 year deals? Let's start with Sonny Gray. Does he fall into the the Big 3 category and get locked up through arby years? All indicators say YES given little history of arm troubles. Hudson and Zito were good signings although Hudson dealt with oblique strains for a stretch. Mulder had issues from his rookie year forward. Still we didn't get jipped out on productivity from him. It remains to be seen from Chavez if his durability will last. At age 30 I think we all appreciate his effectiveness but can he last? His journeyman status has burned up some MLB time so I don't know if he is a good candidate yet for a long term deal. My hunch is, NOT YET. Kazmir is spoken for over the next 2 years therefore no comment. If he wins a WS title here, he may want to stay beyond his current contract. Pomeranz is under team control and won't be offered anything unless he blows our socks off in the 2nd half of the season. Still, a pitcher giving 5 effective innings is good but not worth a long term deal. His promise is exciting to see as long as he keeps it up and remains effective. Stamina may or may not be an issue. It's just too early.
Offensively, we have a lot of questions regarding whom we would like to see long-term. Starting with the catcher's position, Derek Norris is a bull against lefties and had terrifying numbers up until the past 2 weeks. His durability has been great and we have seen improvement offensively against the L vs R splits. I suspect he would qualify for a long term contract if he maintains this through next season, otherwise, Melvin keeps his options open. Jaso probably leaves after his contract is up and Vogt doesn't have enough service to qualify for anything more yet.
Brandon Moss, the other offensive MVP contender to Donaldson is interesting. As an "old" 30 year old we are watching a mature hitter in his prime. His place on this team is key to so many elements. How long will he continue to produce is the question. I would love to see him locked up to a contract for the next 3-4 years. He has proven he is worth more than just facing RH pitchers and when reviewing the entirety of his pro career, he can be counted on for consistent productivity.
2nd base is a wide open position that doesn't warrant any long term contracts. Callaspo is gone after this year and Sjogard has not proven much other than current defensive value this year.
Our SS situation is interesting. If Beane decides to offer Lowrie and multi year deal he could always switch to 2nd once Russell is MLB ready. In the meantime, his bat will be extremely difficult to replace and I would hope that Beane sees his durability as an asset not a hindrance. This flexibility moving into next year if he re-signs with the A's buys us time and maintains a key piece to offensive output and defensive stability, yes I said stability.
JD, sign him now! Some of his public comments reveal his frustration about not having a larger contract. Tough luck buddy but this is how MLB is structured. If Beane were smart, and we all know he is, I would hope that his team has been in contact with Donaldson's agent about a long term deal. I think he is a guy to build a team around much like Carney Lansford in the 80s. But, unlike Eric Chavez, JD has more upside offensively and is only a matter of time before he receives a gold glove. Does he deserve a 6 year 60-70 million contract that Chavez received?
Our outfield is interesting as well. Cespedes would be a nice player to keep but I don't know, truly, if he is worth more than he is currently getting. It will be up to his agent and how attached he feels to the organization. Crisp is spoken for regarding the next 2 seasons and Reddick remains... a basket case offensively although he has shown more promise this year and is wisely allowing his body to heal from injury. In other words, he doesn't deserve anything more than he is currently receiving. Gentry would be a great re-sign especially in light of how our other OFers are injury prone.
I think our current payroll is in the $80 million range and so the question remains how much does Wolf and Beane allow this to fluctuate as they anticipate the next 3-4 years as continuing their current success.
Ultimately are there any players that you feel need to be signed now to long term deals or shall we wait for the offseason as we had seen last season with the only long term deal going to Doolittle.