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|
|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.|
|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.|
|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|
|Coco Crisp (Buyout)||$750,000|
|September callups (15)||$1,266,393||$1,284,836||$1,303,279|
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.