After completing nine trades involving 27 players and making one major free agent signing, the Athletics are well-situated to meet their upcoming needs now and thorough at least 2017.
Current spending for players who will earn at least the major league minimum stands at approximately $85.5 million. At the start of 2014 Opening Day payroll was around $82 million, and by the end of the year it closed in the low-to-mid-$90 million range.
In 2016, the A's go to about $58 million after shedding about $39 million to free agency and adding about $12 million through arbitration raises.
In 2017, the A's have $41 million in projected spending after shedding $29 million to free agency and adding about $12 million in contract and arbitration raises.
Still room to add on for 2015
The A's can make another signing, perhaps for Cuban second baseman Hector Olivera, as suggested recently by Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser, allowing Eric Sogard to fall back to Triple-A and enabling Joe Wendle to compete for more of a bench role in 2016 rather than face the expectations of replacing Ben Zobrist as starting second baseman.
Another possibility for 2015 is signing a veteran third catcher, such as Geovany Soto, that can play the short-side of the platoon that would send Josh Phegley to Triple-A Nashville for his last option year, allowing Phegley to be called up in the event a catcher needs a trip to the disabled list. This would enable more flexibility for further moves mid-season that would add payroll, as the A's did last season when they traded prospects for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel.
Many ways to address 2016 and 2017 needs
The projected payroll for the next three years, and some notes on the long-term needs for the A's:
|Oakland A's 25-man and contracted players payroll projection|
|Cash to Tampa Bay||$1,500,000|
|3rd C||3rd C||3rd C|
|Top-3 SP||Top-3 SP|
- Billy Butler's $5 million signing bonus, paid in December, was assigned to 2015 for our purposes.
- A.J. Griffin is assigned $250,000 because he will earn the Major League minimum while recovering from Tommy John surgery, and should be ready to return mid-season. Whether he replaces another player earning the minimum on the active roster or is optioned to Triple-A upon his recovery, one of those players will end up earning the 40-man player minor league minimum, so only an extra half-season of major league cost is charged here.
- In 2015, arbitration-eligible players who have not signed (Clippard, Sogard, Abad, and Parker were assigned the midpoint of the club and player arbitration salary filings.
- For 2016 and 2017, I made a guess regarding the salaries to be earned by arbitration-eligible players. I would say there's more room to go up in total salary in case an arbitration-eligible player has a breakout season than there is room to down in case an arbitration-eligible player falls flat.
- Player "needs" can be replaced either by an internal candidate not presently on the 25-man roster or through a trade or through a free agent signing.
- For example, Chris Bassitt is presently a good candidate to replace one of the relief pitcher needs in 2016 and 2017, as is R.J. Alvarez. Both would make the major league minimum.
- Similarly, it may work out that one of the pitchers acquired this offseason becomes the "Top-3" caliber starting pitcher that replaces Scott Kazmir in 2016 and 2017.
- Further, at second base, Joe Wendle may serve as an adequate replacement for Ben Zobrist at second base, allowing money to be spent in another area.
- The outfield in 2017 is the big bear to worry about. Assuming the A's buyout Coco Crisp's 2017 $13 million option, which probably will not vest, every primary outfielder presently on the 25-man roster will reach free agency.