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Oakland A's 2016, 2017, 2018 payroll estimate

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What is the Athletics payroll projection over the next three years?

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If the Oakland Athletics did nothing else before the trade deadline but make trades for minor league players, payroll for players on the active (25-man) roster over the next three years would hover around $50-60 million. Around $40 million is coming off payroll with impending trades and free agency.

With payroll falling so low and staying low, the A's could have sufficient payroll space and stability to make serious moves in the free agent market this offseason where in past years a significant outlay probably would have forced a trade to meet payroll goals.

Oakland A's 25-man and contracted players payroll projection
Player 2016 2017 2018 Type
Position Players Coco Crisp $11,000,000 Buyout Contract
Josh Reddick $7,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Ike Davis $5,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Sam Fuld $2,500,000 FA Arb Est.
Billy Butler $10,000,000 $10,000,000 FA Contract
Brett Lawrie $4,500,000 $7,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Eric Sogard $2,000,000 $3,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Stephen Vogt $515,000 $3,000,000 $6,000,000 Arb Est.
Billy Burns $515,000 $522,500 $3,000,000 Arb Est.
Marcus Semien $515,000 $522,500 $2,500,000 Arb Est.
Josh Phegley $515,000 $522,500 $2,500,000 Arb Est.
Pre-arb Position Player 1 $515,000 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 2 $515,000 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 3 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 4 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 5 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 6 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 7 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 8 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Position Player 9 $530,000 Minimum
Starting Pitchers Jesse Chavez $4,000,000 FA Arb Est.
A.J. Griffin $850,000 $2,000,000 $5,000,000 Arb Est.
Sonny Gray $515,000 $4,500,000 $9,500,000 Arb Est.
Jesse Hahn $515,000 $522,500 $2,000,000 Arb Est.
Kendall Graveman $515,000 $522,500 $2,000,000 Arb Est.
Pre-arb Starting Pitcher 1 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Relief Pitchers Fernando Abad $1,500,000 $2,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Fernando Rodriguez $1,000,000 $2,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Jarrod Parker $850,000 $2,000,000 FA Arb Est.
Sean Doolittle $1,580,000 $2,630,000 $4,350,000 Contract
Drew Pomeranz $1,500,000 $3,000,000 $4,000,000 Arb Est.
Dan Otero $1,000,000 $2,000,000 $3,000,000 Arb Est.
Pre-arb Relief Pitcher 1 $515,000 $522,500 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Relief Pitcher 2 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Relief Pitcher 3 $530,000 Minimum
Pre-arb Relief Pitcher 4 $530,000 Minimum
Other Craig Gentry Non-tender
Ryan Cook Non-tender
Evan Scribner Non-tender
Coco Crisp (Buyout) $750,000
September callups (15) $1,266,393 $1,284,836 $1,303,279
GRAND TOTAL $60,696,393 $51,957,336 $52,573,279

I obviously make a few assumptions here. First, I'm only naming players that I believe are certain to reach arbitration by the 2018 season. To fill out the roster each year I assume that players that reach free agency are replaced by a pre-arbitration position player. That could be a Mark Canha or a Chad Pinder or any number of players in the A's farm system. I assume the major league minimum salary will increase by $7,500 each year, as it did in 2015 (it's actually based on a cost of living index).

Second, I'm making an educated guess at the arbitration raises for players in the next three years for players marked "Arb Est."

Third, I am going to guess that, based on performance, Craig Gentry, Ryan Cook, and Evan Scribner are not tendered a contract next year. Scribner might not remain on the roster this year once Pat Venditte, Sean Doolittle, or even Taylor Thompson is activated from his rehabilitation assignment.

Fourth, I use $10 million per year for Billy Butler's salary because I am assigning the entirety of his $5 million signing bonus to 2015 because it was paid before the 2015 season. Other places may prorate that $5 million signing bonus across three years, but I don't see a good justification for doing that.

So there's your baseline. The A's lose Scott Kazmir, Ben Zobrist, and Tyler Clippard to trades. They lose Eric O'Flaherty and Edward Mujica to free agency. How they deal with that, whether it is through free agency, trades, or their farm system, begins with this baseline payroll.