The MLB offseason is almost here, and free agency will begin five days after the World Series has ended. For the A’s, that means a lot of decisions will need to be made.
Oakland has several holes it would need to fill with players heading into free agency, as well as several players who are arbitration-eligible.
MLB Trade Rumors released their projected salaries for arbitration-eligible players. They’ve been pretty accurate since their inception, but following the non-typical 60-game season, things might be different this time around. So, keep that in mind.
Overall, the algorithm developed for these dollar amounts represents the player’s playing time, position, role and performance statistics while accounting for inflation.
Big words, I know.
Here’s the A’s outlook for their 10 eligible players based on MLBTR’s projections, as well as some analysis. They detail the three methods on their site that is linked here:
- Chris Bassitt: $3.1MM / $5.6MM / $5.5MM
- Mark Canha: $5.4MM / $8.2MM / $6.1MM
- Matt Chapman: $2.9MM / $4.3MM / $2.9MM
- Tony Kemp: $900K / $1.2MM / $900K
- Sean Manaea: $4.2MM / $6.4MM / $4.7MM
- Frankie Montas: $1.6MM / $2.4MM / $1.6MM
- Matt Olson: $3.5MM / $6.4MM / $3.5MM
- Chad Pinder: $2.2MM / $2.4MM / $2.2MM
- Burch Smith: $600K / $800K / $600K
- Lou Trivino: $900K / $1.1MM / $900K
Starting pitcher Chris Bassitt went from essentially hoping to get a starting role in the A’s rotation to becoming the most dependable starter on the staff.
Yeah, I’m obsessed with his curveball, I’m learning to relax about that -- but these numbers show why you need to get in on Bassitt as well.
Bassitt finished with 2.29 ERA in 11 starts this season, good enough for a 1.159 WHIP. He will play a huge role in the upcoming season and the A’s need to keep him if they want to continue building on their pitching.
Oh, here’s that curveball I mentioned:
Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea
Other starting pitchers Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea both were touted to be top starters for the A’s this season. Montas, specifically, was in too-early-to-tell AL Cy Young talks heading into spring training, but that didn’t quite happen.
Manaea had a 4.50 ERA in 2020 with 45 strikeouts in 54 innings. He also didn’t have the redemption outing he would have liked in the AL Division Series. Last year in the AL Wild-Card Game loss, he blamed himself after he took the loss.
Still, I believe Manaea has a shot to be the guy he was in 2018 -- the season he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Red Sox. His lefty presence, and him being the pitcher he has the potential to be, is imperative for the success of the team.
It's likely the A’s see that as well
Matt Chapman and Matt Olson
As far as the Matt’s go, both Matt Chapman and Matt Olson had a difficult 2020 season.
For Chapman, his was cut short after he underwent season-ending surgery for a right hip strain. But he appears to be doing well and will be back to his normal self in 2021. He should get paid decently, as he is the team’s best player and turned himself into one of the clubhouse leaders as well. He looks to add to his hardware with a third Platinum Glove Award next season.
Olson was a guy I thought would hit 25 home runs in 2020. Yeah, I know -- bold prediction, but c’mon -- it’s Olson. He didn’t do that, however. He hit just 14 homers and batted just .195. You could easily chalk it up to an off-year.
Regardless of his slump, he deserves to be paid, as he is one of the best defensive first basemen in the game.
Chad Pinder and Mark Canha
The reason why the A’s were as successful as they were in 2020 is in large part due to utility guys Chad Pinder and Mark Canha. Not only do they bring dependable production at the plate, but they also can play multiple positions in the field, which came in handy this season after the A's lost Chapman and Khris Davis took a step back.
Canha, if this were a normal season, is projected to have the highest salary in arbitration on the team, and he’s worth every penny.
He upped his walk rate this season (15.2 percent) and made a big impact wherever he played in the field.
And while he wasn’t the team’s player representative (those responsibilities were given to Marcus Semien), Canha stepped up in a leadership role in 2020 as well. He spoke on behalf of the team to the media on various issues throughout the season, including a miscommunication from bench coach Ryan Christenson.
During A’s media availability after the A's season ended, David Forst and Billy Beane obviously were aware of how many players were eligible for arbitration this offseason and the decisions that need to be made. But the A's traditionally have brought these players back on a one-year deals. That’s something reassuring to think about as the uncertain offseason creeps closer.