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Oakland A’s post-2021 free agent preview: Half of the team coming off the books

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Will the rebuilding A’s re-sign anybody, or perhaps bring in some new faces?

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Texas Rangers v Oakland Athletics
Lowrie, Marte, and Gomes are among the A’s many free agents
Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

The MLB offseason has begun, and a few players have already moved around to new teams.

Unfortunately, it will likely be a tough winter for Oakland A’s fans. The writing has been on the wall for the past year that a rebuild was probably coming after 2021, and the sudden departure of manager Bob Melvin after the season offered the strongest signal yet.

Recent national reporting has confirmed that the A’s are indeed expecting to tear down their roster over the coming weeks and months. The only question is how far they’ll go, with some estimates suggesting the payroll could drop as low as $50 million, barely more than half what it was this past summer.

The first step in the exodus is free agency, and the A’s have a long list of players whose contracts expired after the season. More than a dozen names became free agents this winter, including half of the starting lineup and almost the entire bullpen setup crew.

  • LHP Andrew Chafin
  • LHP Jake Diekman
  • RHP Mike Fiers
  • RHP Yusmeiro Petit
  • RHP Sergio Romo
  • RHP Trevor Rosenthal
  • C Yan Gomes
  • UT Josh Harrison
  • 2B Jed Lowrie
  • OF Mark Canha
  • OF Starling Marte
  • DH Khris Davis
  • DH Mitch Moreland
  • also RHP Burch Smith and SS Pete Kozma

The initial assumption should be that all of these players will move on to new teams, but some of them will remain affordable so perhaps a couple could find their way back to Oakland. Somebody has to play for the A’s next year, after all.

This winter is especially difficult to predict because the Collective Bargaining Agreement is expiring and a new one must be agreed to by players and owners. That impending deal could change some of the league’s financial rules, with one possibility being a salary floor that would require small-budget clubs like Oakland to spend a bit more. The A’s are expected to rebuild either way, but the unknowns of the upcoming CBA could affect the final result.

As for Oakland’s outgoing group:

  • The biggest names on the list are Marte and Canha, and indeed both of them already signed with the New York Mets on Friday for big money.
  • Chafin should also get enough attention for a multi-year deal somewhere, after he declined his $5.25 million mutual option with the A’s.
  • Solid veterans like Lowrie, Harrison, Gomes, Diekman, Petit, and Romo won’t command high salaries, but it remains to be seen whether any will be part of the team’s future plans. Oakland declined a $4 million option on Diekman.
  • Fiers, Davis, and Moreland profile as candidates for minor league contracts if they want to continue playing.
  • Rosenthal is a wild card after missing the whole summer to multiple major injuries.

Regardless of how many of these free agents re-sign with the A’s, a rebuild doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see a bunch of rookies around the diamond next year. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic notes that Oakland hasn’t done a full tank job in a long time, instead stockpiling some marketable veterans during the lean years and then trading them for more prospects at the July deadline. If free agency does clear out the roster, it might also be an avenue to bring in some interesting new names.

Still, this offseason figures to be a bummer in the East Bay. Most of the stars we’ve been rooting for over the last several years will be gone, and a couple of them already are.

Roster update

Here’s the updated 40-man roster without all the free agents. It now stands at 34 players, after a handful of prospects were added for protection from the Rule 5 draft. The roster will continue to change substantially before April, including lots of trades, but this is the current snapshot of everyone who’s still under team control. Players listed in —italics have not yet debuted in the majors.

Oakland A's 40-man roster (34)
Pitchers Hitters
Starters

Chris Bassitt (R)
Frankie Montas (R)
Sean Manaea (L)
Cole Irvin (L)
James Kaprielian (R)
Daulton Jefferies (R)
Brent Honeywell (R)
Paul Blackburn (R)

Relievers

Lou Trivino (R)
Deolis Guerra (R)
A.J. Puk (L)
Domingo Acevedo (R)
Adam Kolarek (L)
Sam Moll (L)
—Wandisson Charles (R)
—Grant Holmes (R)
—Jorge Juan (R)
—Miguel Romero (R)
Catchers

Sean Murphy (R)
Austin Allen (L)

Infielders

1B: Matt Olson (L)
2B: Tony Kemp (L)
SS: Elvis Andrus (R)
3B: Matt Chapman (R)
UT: Vimael Machin (L)
—Nick Allen (R)
—Jonah Bride (R)
—Jordan Diaz (R)


Outfielders

Chad Pinder (R)
Stephen Piscotty (R)
Seth Brown (L)
Skye Bolt (S)
Luis Barrera (L)
—Cody Thomas (L)

Note: OF Ramon Laureano is suspended for the first 27 games of next season due to a PED violation last summer (80-game ban, 53 games already served). He will need to be added to the roster when he is reinstated.