If the Oakland A's are going to decrease salary for the 2022 campaign, then let's take a look at a probable outcome and timeline in which these moves play out. First, we begin with the three most obvious trade candidates; Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, and Chad Pinder. All three are in their final years of arbitration and each should fetch an effective minor league prospect or a player with 3+ years of team control (something often favored by the Athletics in the past). These trades should happen over the winter break and need to be completed well before Spring Training. The movement of Manaea, Bassitt, and Pinder should decrease team salary by a projected $22M.
Second, but not without as much fervor, the A's front office has to get creative to find ways to rid themselves of Elvis Andrus [$14M owed in 2022] and Stephen Piscotty [$7.6M owed in 2022]. Both players are blocking a better, younger, more productive less expensive version of themselves. See: Nick Allen at shortstop and (likely) Ramon Laureano in rightfield. Thanks for coming to Oakland, we hope you had a great time, now please enjoy the FREE peanuts and in-flight booze as you fly away to a team that might actually compete next season. Moving this pair needs to happen as soon as possible. Sending away Andrus & Piscotty will lessen payroll by over $21M.
Third is where things are scary and muddled. The Oakland A's do not have to trade Frankie Montas, Matt Olson, or Matt Chapman... but when will their values be higher than they are right now? Of course, the A's could start the season with each player on the roster but it only takes one slow month or one trip to the injured list to screw all of that up. And YES, without question, being able to trade a player at the mid-season deadline typically gets you a better haul of prospects, but the Athletics should be selling based upon the fact that whoever gets anyone of these 3 players gets a young (27 or 28 year old) productive stud with two years of team control. With Matt & Matt a team gets an MVP caliber player with multiple Gold Gloves and Frankie Montas whose second half last season was so solid he got himself into the Cy Young discussion. Any team asking for these guys needs to pony up at minimum 2 to 3 of their top prospects. I would expect all three of these top players to move, I just would not be surprised if it does not happen until July. If the A's were to make 3 blockbuster trades and move on from Olson, Chapman, & Montas; the A's could save almost $27M in 2022 alone.
Next do not be shocked if the A's move Lou Trivino and/ or Ramon Laureano. Both are under team control until 2025 but each could benefit from a change of address and a fresh set of MLB jammies. I mean, I could see the Laser playing outfield for the Mets or the Braves and really finding his groove. Same goes for Lou who I believe had a lot of let downs because he was not being played in his best roll which is set up, not as closer. Lou can move as soon as possible but Ramon may be a little trickier due to his suspension that runs into the beginning of next season. Sending away Trivino & Laureano would take another $5.7 off the books.
Finally, who would be shocked if Jed Lowrie, Yusmeiro Petit, or Mike Fiers were to sign a one-year deal to provide some leadership for what will be a youthful roster? The A's have one of the weakest minor league systems so a couple band aid on-the-field or in-the-clubhouse role models would definitely benefit a team that could be evolving and changing week to week and month by month. With all three of these guys the A's can wait right up until mid-March. There really is no hurry and it probably would be best to wait just to see if they really are healthy and a good fit. Adding all three of these veterans probably won't top $5M.
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