Athletics

Free agents Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy projected to earn different salaries

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AP

Free agents Jed Lowrie, Jonathan Lucroy projected to earn different salaries

Despite earning similar salaries in 2018, Jed Lowrie and Jonathan Lucroy will likely sign for vastly different amounts as free agents this offseason.

Lowrie, 34, made $6 million in the final season of a 3-year, $23 million deal. Lucroy, 32, earned $6.5 million on a one-year contract.

But according to Spotrac, Lowrie's estimated market value in free agency is $12.6 million, while Lucroy's is just $2.3 million.

Spotrac calculates its market value figures by comparing a free agent to a group of similar players, based on stats, age, and contract status. Lowrie is compared to Ben Zobrist, Nelson Cruz, Kendrys Morales, and David Freese when they were similar ages. Lucroy's comparables are Kurt Suzuki, Stephen Vogt, Jose Reyes, and Chris Young.

Lowrie is coming off the best season of his career. He slashed .267/.353/.448 with 23 home runs and 99 RBI, earning a trip to his first All-Star Game. He also performed well defensively, committing just four errors the entire season.

Lucroy slashed .241/.291/.325 with four homers and 51 RBI. He had an excellent defensive season, leading MLB with 31 runners caught stealing.

If these projected market value numbers are even close to accurate, the A's would re-sign Lucroy without hesitation. He provided tremendous value beyond the stats with his ability to manage Oakland's pitching staff, keeping them on track through numerous injuries.

While the A's are high on 24-year-old catching prospect Sean Murphy, he is not yet ready to take over the reins and could benefit from a full season in Triple-A. Re-signing Lucroy for anything near $2.3 million would be a gift.

Lowrie's future becomes a little more complicated. A $12.6 million salary, while well-deserved, would be more than twice what he earned last season. With talented 22-year-old Franklin Barreto waiting in the wings and Chad Pinder also capable of playing second base, Oakland may elect to let Lowrie go for that price.

Of course, when you add Lowrie and Lucroy's estimated market values together, it's only about $2.4 million more than the duo earned in 2018, giving the A's a realistic shot to re-sign both veterans.

A's 2019 projections: Mike Fiers looks to repeat strong performance

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USATSI

A's 2019 projections: Mike Fiers looks to repeat strong performance

Editor's note: Over the next few weeks, NBC Sports California will be analyzing a different A's player each day to project their numbers for next season.

When the A's non-tendered Mike Fiers in November, it seemingly marked the end of his tenure in green and gold. But just a few weeks later, Oakland re-signed the veteran right-hander to a two-year, $14.1 million deal, addressing their need for starting pitching.

Fiers performed well last year after coming over from the Tigers. The 33-year-old made 10 appearances with Oakland, including nine starts, going 5-2 with a 3.74 ERA and 1.06 WHIP. For the season, Fiers went 12-8 with a 3.56 ERA and 1.18 WHIP in 172 innings. In eight career seasons, he has an ERA of 4.04.

Fiers was especially effective at the Oakland Coliseum, going 3-0 with a 2.91 ERA in six starts. While he is not necessarily a strikeout pitcher, he does a great job limiting walks and should benefit from the A's solid defense behind him.

Baseball Reference projects Fiers to go 10-9 next season with a 4.22 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. They also predict 139 strikeouts in 160 innings.

We expect better numbers than that for Fiers, who will anchor the A's rotation, especially during the first half of the season. Although he allows a high percentage of fly balls, pitching at the Coliseum will benefit him, as will Oakland's stellar defense.

[RELATED: Fiers' two-year contract makes A's look like geniuses]

Last year marked Fiers' best season since 2014 when he posted an ERA of 2.13 with Milwaukee. He seems to be getting better with age as he continues to hone his command and mix his pitches. We see no reason for that to change next season.

Projection: 13-8, 3.69 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 141 K, 171 IP

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

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USATSI

Source: A's unlikely to re-sign reliever Shawn Kelley in free agency

Shawn Kelley played a significant role in the A's stellar bullpen last season, but NBC Sports California has learned the veteran right-hander is unlikely to re-sign with Oakland.

Kelley, 34, has reportedly been in talks with about 10 teams, and his agent Mike McCann confirmed to NBC Sports California that the A's are not among those clubs.

The two sides did have conversations earlier this offseason but have not spoken since Oakland signed right-hander Joakim Soria to a two-year, $15 million deal nearly a month ago.

Kelley earned $5.5 million last season and is projected to get a similar amount next year. As much as the A's would like to bring him back, they have identified starting pitching as a higher priority.

After joining the A's from the Washington Nationals last year, Kelley went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 19 games. Overall, he finished the season 2-0 with a 2.94 ERA and 0.90 WHIP in 54 appearances.

He has a career ERA of 3.67 in 10 big league seasons.

Even without Kelley, the A's will boast one of the strongest bullpens in baseball next season. Oakland will bring back All-Star closer Blake Treinen, as well as setup men Fernando Rodney, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, and Ryan Buchter.

The addition of Soria will add even more depth to the group.

The A's would ideally like to sign another left-handed reliever to join Buchter in the pen, but again, starting pitching is the top priority.

Veteran starters Edwin Jackson and Brett Anderson are both still in the mix to return, though nothing appears imminent.