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Elephant Rumblings: Elvis Andrus upset with increased bench time

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MLB: Oakland Athletics at Houston Astros
Aug 14, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Oakland Athletics designated hitter Elvis Andrus (17) scores as he runs past Houston Astros third baseman Alex Bregman (2) in the ninth inning at Minute Maid Park.
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Happy Monday, Athletics Nation!

Just last week, we were discussing whether or not Elvis Andrus might get the 550 plate appearances he needs in 2022 in order for next year’s team option to become a player option, which would make it up to Andrus whether or not to return to the A’s in 2023 for a $15 million salary. Since then, it’s become somewhat clearer that the A’s are committed to giving prospects more playing time—and keeping Andrus’ option with the team as a consequence.

Last Tuesday, Anthony Franco at MLB Trade Rumors indicated that Andrus was on pace to make 556 plate appearances, but the math seemed a bit fuzzy in that it assumed Andrus would play all of the team’s remaining games. In any case, as Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle reported over the weekend, Andrus had started four of the last seven games on the bench coming into Saturday as A’s manager Mark Kotsay made clear that rookie Nick Allen would get more starts at shortstop going forward.

Andrus is understandably not happy about it.

“Of course I’m upset, I’m pissed about it. But like I said, the best I can do is stay positive and wait for my turn and be ready whatever happens.”

It’s also pretty easy to understand why the A’s wouldn’t want to be saddled with a $15 million payroll obligation to Andrus next season, which will most likely be a continuation of the current rebuild effort. Elvis has been a solid veteran presence this year, but even with his bat heating up in recent weeks, it looks about average at best.

Andrus, 2022: 237/.297/.366, 94 wRC+, 7 HR, 7.6% BB, 15.8% Ks

It’s an unfortunate situation. Andrus is no doubt giving his all and turning in a much better effort than in 2021, but the A’s also wouldn’t benefit from overpaying Elvis next season, and they have enough justification to avoid doing it. This makes me wonder if tacking an option like Andrus’ onto a long-term contract isn’t just begging for precisely this sort of controversy down the road. The league prohibits options based on performance, but not on playing time—I wonder if they don’t have it backwards. After all, it is much harder to manipulate performance than playing time. You feel me on this, AN? Sound off below!

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