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Oakland A’s re-sign Liam Hendriks, Ryan Dull to avoid arbitration

Both relievers are now under contract for 2019, as is catcher Josh Phegley.

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s re-signed two of their relief pitchers on Friday, avoiding arbitration with both of them. Liam Hendriks will earn $2.15 million, reports Jeff Passan of Yahoo, and Ryan Dull will earn $0.86 million, per Jon Heyman of Fancred.

Friday brings the deadline for teams to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. Oakland entered the offseason with 12 eligible players, though on Thursday they resolved one of them by re-signing catcher Josh Phegley. Now that they’ve settled with Hendriks and Dull, there are nine more players on the list. The A’s don’t need to figure out salaries for everyone before today’s deadline, but they must at least commit to whether or not they will keep them; anyone who is non-tendered will become a free agent.

Here’s the full list of arbitration-eligible players. The salary figures are estimates from MLB Trade Rumors:

  • DH Khris Davis ($18.1 million)
  • SS Marcus Semien ($6.6 million)
  • OF Mark Canha ($2.1 million)
  • C Josh Phegley ($1.2 million) (signed for $1.1 million)
  • RHP Mike Fiers ($9.7 million)
  • RHP Blake Treinen ($5.8 million)
  • LHP Sean Manaea ($3.8 million)
  • RHP Kendall Graveman ($2.5 million)
  • RHP Cory Gearrin ($2.4 million)
  • RHP Liam Hendriks ($2.1 million) (signed for $2.2 million)
  • LHP Ryan Buchter ($1.3 million)
  • RHP Ryan Dull ($0.9 million) (signed for $0.9 million)

Hendriks and Dull were easy calls to keep. Both of them come at relatively low salaries, ones which won’t get you much of anything on the open market. They’re not stars, but they’re easily worth these modest investments.

It was a roller coaster campaign for Hendriks in 2018. The first half of his season was interrupted by minor hip surgery, and he became such an afterthought that he was eventually designated for assignment and cut from the roster. However, he stuck around in Triple-A and got his groove back, and when he returned to Oakland in September his stuff looked better than we’ve ever seen from him.

The right-hander finished off the season with nearly a dozen consecutive scoreless innings. Several times that work came in the 1st inning, as he famously served as the “opener” while the A’s experimented with different pitching arrangements. He performed so well in that role that he got the nod to open the team’s Wild Card playoff game, though that outing went poorly in a loss to the Yankees. Still, his stock finished the season much higher than it began.

Hendriks, 2018: 4.13 ERA, 24 ip, 22 Ks, 10 BB, 3 HR, 4.33 FIP
Hendriks, Sept: 1.38 ERA, 13 ip, 10 Ks, 3 BB, 0 HR, 2.55 FIP

He’ll pitch next year at age 30, and he’s got one more year of team control in 2020. Here is what I had to say about Hendriks’ arbitration case yesterday, filed under “obviously yes” in terms of whether to tender/sign him:

Your opinion of him may vary, but this salary is so low that he’s an easy call to keep. The team showed a lot of faith in him last year, and even if you only think he’s half as good as they seem to, he’d still be worth that modest price tag. Trade him if you want, but don’t flush him down the toilet just to see if he goes clockwise.

As for Dull, his six-figure salary is barely over league minimum, but the question was whether he was still part of the team’s plan after a couple of shaky seasons. He was nearly an All-Star in 2016 as a setup man, but he was slowed by injuries the next year and then struggled to find consistent success or playing time in MLB this past summer. But he’s still got upside, and more importantly he has minor league options remaining, so he can taxi back and forth to Triple-A again if needed rather than being locked into the 25-man roster like Hendriks is.

Dull, 2018: 4.26 ERA, 25⅓ ip, 21 Ks, 7 BB, 3 HR, 3.87 FIP

Personally, I’m still a believer in Dull, so I’m thrilled to see him back in the fold. Even if the 29-year-old never returns to his past peak, at worst he costs basically nothing and fills a depth spot. At best, he breaks out again and becomes a quality mid/late-inning arm. Here’s what I had to say about him yesterday, conservatively filed under “it’s complicated” even though my heart said obviously yes:

This one is more a question of what the A’s think of him, considering they have more information than we do. I see him as a decent, optionable reliever with upside remaining, at a negligible price that’s barely over the minimum. Oakland relied extensively last season on shuttling optionable relievers back and forth to Triple-A to keep the bullpen filled out, and presumably they’ll do the same next summer. That means they’ll need a handful of such arms available, and I’m not sure they’ll find a half-dozen better than Dull-at-six-figures. But if the team doesn’t believe in him then I would understand.

Again, neither of these guys are stars, but they are useful role players at efficient salaries. Keeping them was the correct move and I’m happy to see them both return.

Stay tuned to see what happens with the other nine remaining arby-eligible players!