So I was halfway through a story when I saw yet another question regarding the 40-man roster in 2009. This was a topic I was going to address once Beane finished dealing (which was the nature of the earlier story) come July 31st but as there seems to be continued confusion on the topic, I'll dive in now.
This is based on what we know about the organization and existing contracts today. In other words, Mark Ellis is a FA-to-be and will therefore NOT be on next year's 40-man roster.
We'll start simple. The following is a list of 23 players who are almost guaranteed to make the 40-man roster in 2009.
Jerry Blevins, Dallas Braden, Andrew Brown, Santiago Casilla, Joey Devine, Justin Duchscherer, Dana Eveland, Sean Gallagher, Henry Rodriguez, Greg Smith, Huston Street, Brad Ziegler, Kurt Suzuki, Daric Barton, Eric Chavez, Bobbu Crosby, Gregorio Petit, Travis Buck, Jack Cust, Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Murton, Eric Patterson, Ryan Sweeney.
Barring major injury or trade, those 23 players are going to be on Oakland's 40-man roster next year.
There are 5 players on the 2008 40-man roster who will not be around next year, based on their current contracts.
Frank Thomas, Emil Brown, Mike Sweeney, Mark Ellis, Keith Foulke.
There are 10 key players within the organization who will, for the first time, need to be placed on the 2009 40-man roster or risk losing them to the Rule 5 draft.
Shull, Ray and Madsen are all coming back from surgery so there's a good chance they could slip through the Rule 5 draft without adding them to the 40-man. Madsen was pitching in AAA last year so he'd be most likely to go if someone grabbed him in the 1st round but the A's wouldn't be losing much if he went elsewhere. I've linked the 6 guys I think will make the cut and get added to the 40-man roster in 2009.
So our hypothetical 2009 40-man roster stands at 29 players. We've got 11 more spots and here is where some decisions have to be made.
Do the A's want to bring back Mark Ellis?
Are the A's going to go after any free agents?
As things stand now, the A's have about $23 million committed towards salaries next year, plus arbitrition cases for Duke, DiNardo and Street (2nd year Arby) and Cust and Bowen (1st year Arby). So rough guess we'll tack on an extra $13 million to the total... call it a $36 million payroll for next season. That's an awful lot of payroll flexibility so a significant purchase could happen.
There are 13 more players on the 2008 4-man roster to consider as well.
If I'm right on the first 29 players, then at least two of the above are getting dropped from the 40-man roster even if the A's don't make another move. The A's have a team option on Embree for 2009, if he continues to pitch poorly then I doubt the A's invest another $3 million on him. Do the A's want to go to arbitration with DiNardo again? If my math is right, Dan Meyer is out of options next season. Either he's on Oakland's roster or they have to put him on waivers.
Herrera and Robnett are ultra-toolsy outfielders who, for various reasons, haven't developed as hoped. Gray kinda sucks, Conrad is basically roster fill, Hannahan and Davis are an important step above roster fill.
What happens at Catcher? Do the A's give Bowen arbitration or do they call up Powell and let him be the back-up? (This answer is probably heavily dependent on how Powell plays through the rest of the season.)
At this point, it looks like Conrad and Embree are the odd men out with Gray next in line. You could probably swap Gray and Conrad and I wouldn't argue.
So that's how the 2009 40-man roster shapes up for now.