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A’s avoid arbitration with Chad Pinder and Tony Kemp

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Both players sign one-year deals for 2022

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The Oakland A’s have 10 players eligible for arbitration this winter, and the deadline to tender them contracts is Tuesday afternoon. They don’t have to figure out salaries with everybody yet, but they must commit to which players they want to keep, and if they can’t come to terms in the next couple months then a third party will make the decision for them.

Two of those 10 players agreed to contracts on Monday, avoiding the arbitration process entirely. Super-sub Chad Pinder signed for $2.725 million, and second baseman Tony Kemp inked a $2.25 million deal, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

For Pinder, this represents a modest raise of just under a half-million dollars. That comes after a 2021 season that was interrupted by multiple injuries, limiting him to only 75 games. This is his third and final year of arbitration, entering age 30, and next winter he’ll be eligible for free agency.

  • Pinder, 2021: .243/.300/.411, 97 wRC+, 6 HR, 6.9% HR, 26.6% Ks, .354 xwOBA

His campaign was dragged down by injuries and continued struggles against right-handed pitching, but when healthy he offered his usual solid righty platoon bat with versatile defense at five different positions. He hits the ball as hard as anyone on the team in terms of average exit velocity, and his flexible glove helps him fill whatever need the team has that day.

As for Kemp, he doubles his salary after making just over a million last year. That comes thanks to a breakout season in 2021, in which he posted around 3 WAR and took a big step forward at the plate. This is his second pass through arbitration, so he’ll be eligible one more time next winter before becoming a free agent after the 2023 season.

  • Kemp, 2021: .279/.382/.418, 127 wRC+, 8 HR, 13.1% BB, 12.8% Ks, .320 xwOBA

He set career highs in games (131), plate appearances (397), batting average, OBP, slugging, and homers, while walking more than he struck out and playing solid defense at two positions (2B and LF). He also stole eight bases in 10 tries, and helped lead the club’s aggressive running game. In general he elevated himself from a useful bench player to a consistent producer in a mostly everyday role.

Analysis: Both of these players are easy calls to keep at these salaries. On top of their quality play and versatile skill sets, they also have reputations as clubhouse leaders, making them good fits for a rebuilding team. That’s plenty of value at a couple mill apiece.

Arbitration deadline

There are still eight other players eligible for arbitration, which means eight more decisions to be made by tomorrow afternoon at 5 p.m. PT. Here they are, along with estimates from MLB Trade Rumors:

  • 1B Matt Olson – $12.0m
  • LHP Sean Manaea – $10.2m
  • 3B Matt Chapman – $9.5m
  • RHP Chris Bassitt – $8.8m
  • RHP Frankie Montas – $5.2m
  • RHP Lou Trivino – $2.9m
  • OF Ramon Laureano – $2.8m
  • UT Chad Pinder$2.8m (signed: $2.725m)
  • 2B Tony Kemp$2.2MM (signed: $2.25m)
  • RHP Deolis Guerra – $900k

Everybody else on the list is also an easy call, and each should be tendered a contract. Several of them might later be traded away as the winter progresses, but they certainly won’t be non-tendered tomorrow and set loose as free agents.