Clearly the surprise team of the year was in Oakland. Who saw them winning 94 games??? Not me, that’s for sure. But, they were the surprise winner of the AL West, and are a very young team that could be in contention for a while with the right moves. They have to be judicious with their spending while residing in a small market. Opening day 2012, they had a total payroll just over $55 million – second lowest in baseball. I don’t think that’s an offensively low payroll, but I would still like to see them closer to $70 million. Let’s see what we can do.
Who’s Under Contract?
- The A’s have 6 guys under contract for a total of $37.25 million. This includes Yoenis Cespedes, newly acquired Chris Young, Coco Crisp, Brett Anderson, Bartolo Colon (recently signed to a 1-year, $3 million deal) and Grant Balfour.
- They also have an impressive 14 players that are pre-arbitration eligible, that look to be a part of the 2013 team. So, for a total of $7-8 million, they will have Josh Reddick, Scott Sizemore, Jordan Norberto, Jemile Weeks, Ryan Cook, Josh Donaldson, Tommy Milone, Derek Norris, A.J. Griffin, Jarrod Parker, Jim Miller, Travis Blackley, Chris Carter and Sean Doolittle. This means that for around $45 million, they’ve got all but 5 roster spots filled.
- Seth Smith – with Young acquired from Arizona, and several good outfield prospects in the farm system, there’s not much chance (or reason) Oakland would offer arbitration to Smith.
- Daric Barton – another arbitration-eligible player who they simply don’t need. He’s essentially a back-up at first, and they have enough other options there to let him go.
- Joey Devine – first innings he has thrown since 2008 were this season. And, he didn’t look great. Certainly not worth arbitration.
- Adam Rosales – an okay option as a back-up middle-infielder, but for what he would cost in arbitration, they could get something better in the free agent market.
- Jerry Blevins – the Oakland bullpen is simply too crowded for them to bother offering arbitration to Blevins. He’ll be a good fit somewhere else, but there’s just no room in Oakland.
- Brandon McCarthy – he’s going to make somewhere in the $12-15 million per year range, and Oakland has so much depth with quality young pitching that they can afford to let him go.
- Jonny Gomes – a great contributor off the bench and in the outfield when needed. He’s a free agent, and if they can get him for around $1-1.25 million, he’s worth it.
- Cliff Pennington – he’s arbitration-eligible for the first time, and I see no reason not to offer it. He was solid at SS when they used him, and he won’t cost any more than $1.5-2 million.
- George Kottaras – a back-up catcher that came over from Milwaukee. He gives you a left-handed bat off the bench, and some relief for Norris who will be the main guy for his first full season in 2013.
- Brandon Moss – looks like he’s ready to take on 1B full time. He’s arbitration eligible, but won’t likely reach any higher than about $1.5 million.
Who Do They Go After?
- There’s really only one roster spot left open. And, the biggest weakness for Oakland in 2012 was their hitting. One of the lowest scoring teams in the game. Near the bottom in batting, OBP, SLG, and OPS. But, when I started looking through potential free agents – I just don’t see the kind of help Oakland needs. After trading for Young, their outfield is in good shape, and someone (Reddick? Cespedes?) will have to move to DH. Moss could be a 25-30 home run guy at 1B. The only questionable offensive spots are at 3B and Catcher – and unfortunately for Oakland, the field of free agents in those positions is pretty weak. So, I say they stick with what they’ve got, and they may do very well with the addition of Young.
- The last roster spot, in my opinion, should go to Ronny Cedeno. They need someone on the bench that can help in the middle of the infield, if needed. Cedeno is a veteran who can play both middle infield positions, and is one of the better options in the free agent market. The A’s just don’t have much talent they could rely on out of their farm system here (though they have tons of good outfielders and pitching prospects). So, Cedeno makes the most sense to me.
That’s all I have on Oakland. It boggles my mind that they could lose 3 top pitchers in two years (McCarthy, Gonzalez & Cahill), and still have what looks to be a very formidable rotation with Colon, Griffin, Milone, Parker and Anderson. And, their offense should improve with Cespedes, Young, Reddick and Moss in the middle – all of whom could hit 25-30 home runs. With Crisp and Weeks at the top, getting on base, and creating havoc on the basepaths, this could be an exciting team to watch again in 2013. And, by my estimations, their payroll would actually go down to around $52 million with this roster! Billy Beane sure knows what he’s doing.