Athletics

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

A's 17-year-old prospect 'Lazarito' makes Cactus League debut

Lazaro Armenteros, the A’s 17-year-old stud outfield prospect better known as “Lazarito,” is believed to have become the youngest player in franchise history to appear in a Cactus League game.

Armenteros entered at the DH spot in the eighth against the Dodgers and went 0-for-2, flying out to right-center and popping up to shallow center. With the A’s short on position players, Armenteros was brought over from minor league camp and got a little exposure to the big league environment.

“He’s quite athletic, and I know they love him over there” at minor league camp, A's manager Bob Melvin recently said.

Armenteros also got a chance to mingle with Dodger outfielder (and fellow Cuban) Yasiel Puig before the game.

“Over there (in Cuba) you kind of play the game because you like it and you enjoy it,” Armenteros recently said through interpreter Juan Dorado. “Here, it’s more like a job. There’s more preparation.”

Armenteros will stay in Arizona through extended spring training and then head to play in the Dominican Summer League.

Breaking down where the A's 2019 payroll stands ahead of free agency

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Breaking down where the A's 2019 payroll stands ahead of free agency

The A's entered the 2018 season with the lowest payroll in Major League Baseball at about $63 million. That number increased to around $80 million by the end of the season.

Heading into 2019, there is plenty of uncertainty, with only two players officially under contract. With that in mind, we take an early look at the 2019 payroll: 

Guaranteed contracts

Stephen Piscotty: $7,333,333
Yusmeiro Petit: $5,500,000

Retained salary

Brandon Moss: $1,000,000

Club options

Fernando Rodney: $4,250,000 ($250,000 buyout)
--- Assuming the A's buy Rodney out, that adds up to just $14,083,333 in guaranteed payroll for next season.

Arbitration

Here are the players on the A's 40-man roster eligible for arbitration, along with their projected arbitration number from MLB Trade Rumors:

Khris Davis - $18.1M
Mike Fiers - $9.7M
Marcus Semien - $6.6M
Blake Treinen - $5.8M 
Sean Manaea - $3.8M 
Kendall Graveman - $2.5M 
Cory Gearrin - $2.4M 
Liam Hendriks - $2.1M 
Mark Canha - $2.1M 
Chris Bassitt - $1.6M
Ryan Buchter - $1.3M
Josh Phegley - $1.2M 
Ryan Dull - $900K
--- If the A's keep all of these players, their projected cost would be $58.1 million. If the A's choose not to bring back Graveman, Gearrin, Bassitt, Phegley, and Dull, that number would go down to $49.5 million, bringing the total up to about $63.5 million.

Pre-arbitration

The following players on the 40-man roster are not yet eligible for arbitration and will likely make somewhere between $500,000 and $600,000:
Matt Olson
Matt Chapman
Franklin Barreto
Nick Martini
Ramón Laureano
Chad Pinder
Dustin Fowler
Jharel Cotton
Andrew Triggs
Paul Blackburn
Daniel Mengden
Daniel Gossett
Frankie Montas
Emilio Pagan
Lou Trivino
J.B. Wendelken
--- These salaries should end up around $9 million, bringing the total payroll to about $72.5 million.

Unrestricted free agents

Here are the A's unrestricted free agents, along with their 2018 salaries:

Jeurys Familia: $7.925M
Jonathan Lucroy - $6.5M
Jed Lowrie - $6M
Matt Joyce - $6M
Shawn Kelley - $5.6M
Edwin Jackson - $1.5M
Brett Anderson - $1.5M
Trevor Cahill - $1.5M
--- If the A's re-signed Lucroy, Lowrie, and Jackson, it would likely cost them somewhere around $15 million, bringing the total payroll close to $90 million. And that's without adding any free agents.

Clearly, Oakland will have some difficult decisions to make.

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Josh Phegley

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Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Josh Phegley

(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)

Josh Phegley served as the A's backup catcher in 2018, slashing .204/.255/.344 with two home runs and 15 RBI in 93 at-bats. Oakland performed extremely well with him in the lineup, going 20-7 in games he started.

Phegley, 30, is a career .223 hitter in six big-league seasons. His best year came in 2015 when he notched a career-high nine homers and 34 RBI in 73 games. 

Phegley earned $905K last season and is projected to get $1.2 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Phegley has proven to be a reliable backup catcher. He is solid defensively and can handle himself at the plate as well. He is also well-liked by his teammates, and knows how to manage Oakland's pitching staff.

Even if the A's re-sign starting catcher Jonathan Lucroy, Phegley could provide a nice insurance policy.

Why he might be too pricey

The projected number of $1.2 million could be a bit high for a backup catcher, especially with Beau Taylor in the mix for less money, and prospect Sean Murphy tearing it up in the minor leagues. If the A's do re-sign Lucroy, Phegley could become expendable.

Verdict

Phegley has done everything asked of him over the past four seasons in Oakland, but $1.2 million seems a bit high for a backup catcher, especially when Taylor would cost less than half that.

Murphy, who just turned 24, slashed.288/.358/.498 in 68 games with Double-A Midland last season and figures to be the A's catcher of the future. With both Taylor and Murphy in the mix, Oakland can probably afford to let Phegley go at that price tag.