Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Sean Manaea

Evaluating A's arbitration in 2018 MLB offseason: Sean Manaea

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

Sean Manaea was having the best season of his career before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery, which is expected to keep him out for most, if not all, of 2019 as well.

Manaea, 26, went 12-9 with a 3.59 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in 27 starts, striking out 108 and walking 32. The left-hander was the ace of the A's staff for most of the season, and he threw his first career no-hitter on April 21 against the league-leading Boston Red Sox.

Manaea earned just $550K in his third Major League season, but he is projected to get a raise to $3.8 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Why he might be a bargain

Even though Manaea is expected to miss the vast majority of the 2019 season, it's a no-brainer for the A's to keep him. At 26 years old, he has plenty of good years in front of him, and he proved he can be a top of the rotation type pitcher.

Manaea has said his shoulder bothered him for the entire season, and yet he was still able to post excellent numbers and throw a no-hitter. His velocity was down for much of the season, likely due to his shoulder injury, but he learned how to utilize his secondary pitches and became a better all-around pitcher in the process. If he can get back to full healthy, he should be a number one or two starter on the A's for years to come.

Why he might be too pricey

The only way the A's would let Manaea go is if they believe he will not recover from the shoulder surgery. Spending $3.8 million on an injured pitcher obviously involves some risk, but based on all reports, his surgery went as well as they could have hoped.


Assuming Manaea's prognosis is good, he should remain in Oakland, not just in 2019, but for years to come. The left-hander has already developed into a top flight pitcher in the American League, and at the age of 26, he hasn't even hit his prime yet.

Manaea also fits in well in the A's clubhouse and feels very comfortable pitching in Oakland. He has a great relationship with the fans and in the community, and he can be a face of the franchise for several seasons.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confident in A's Howard Terminal site

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred confident in A's Howard Terminal site

Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred expressed his confidence is the A's Howard Terminal site for a future ballpark on Tuesday, despite a recent report from the San Francisco Chronicle on hazardous chemicals and a costly cleanup. 

“I am aware of some of the issues that have been raised with respect to the site,” Manfred said to reporters during a news conference at the Glendale Civic Center. “I’m optimistic that we’re going to find a way that the A’s and government officials in Oakland will find a way to work through those issues to everyone’s satisfaction." 

Manfred praised the A's ownership and front office for their creativity in landing at Howard Terminal, too. 

“I give (owner) John Fisher and (president) Dave Kaval really high marks for the level of effort, creativity and commitment they have put into the project in terms of trying to find a site in Oakland that’s workable. They deserve a ton of credit.”

The A's have long been looking for a new ballpark. It seems every year, we hear rumblings of either a new location in Oakland, or a possible relocation outside of the Bay Area. Manfred made one thing clear -- he wants the team right here in Oakland. 

[PHOTOS: Howard Terminal ballpark and Coliseum site redevelopment renderings

“I think it’s important for us to stay in Oakland,” he said. “Most fundamentally because of our commitment to communities. But, you know, Oakland is a major-league market. We should have a club there.”

The A's moved from Kansas City to Oakland in 1968, and have remained at the Coliseum -- with its many names -- ever since. 

Why A's crowded outfield means there could be opportunity for trade

Why A's crowded outfield means there could be opportunity for trade

After last week's signing of 29-year-old Robbie Grossman, the A's find themselves with eight outfielders battling for three spots.

Stephen Piscotty and Ramón Laureano should have right and center field locked down, which leaves six players -- Grossman, Nick Martini, Mark Canha, Chad Pinder, Franklin Barreto, and Dustin Fowler -- vying for playing time in left.

While a team can never have too much depth, the A's still have other areas of need -- namely starting pitching. So it's worth asking, could a trade be in the works?

Barreto and Fowler probably carry the most value in a potential trade due to their youth and upside. Barreto, 22, has long been considered one of Oakland's top prospects, and despite limited playing time at the Major League level, he has shown flashes of his tremendous natural ability at the plate.

Fowler, 24, struggled in his first season with the A's last year, but performed extremely well in Triple-A, slashing.341/.364/.520 in 55 games. His short swing should eventually allow him to hit for a high average, and he has surprising natural power, not to mention plus speed.

Pinder and Canha also have some trade value. Pinder's versatility makes him an attractive option for any team. The 26-year-old can play any position besides pitcher and catcher (and he claims he can do those too). Pinder also has outstanding power, as he showed when he belted home runs of 460 feet and 448 feet in 2017.

Canha, 30, destroys left-handed pitching. Last season, he hit .282/.337/.604 with 13 home runs in 149 at-bats against southpaws. That makes him an excellent platoon option for any club.

[RELATED: Grading the A's offseason with spring training underway]

Martini and Grossman probably have the least trade value, but that should be just fine with A's fans. Martini, 28, hit .296 last season with an incredible .397 on-base percentage. Grossman wasn't far behind with a .273 batting average and .367 OBP. They are both excellent options in left field for Oakland.

Of course, the A's could elect to keep all eight outfielders to start the season and see how it plays out on the field. But don't be surprised if they move one or two of them in the next few months, especially if it means shoring up the starting rotation.