Athletics

MLB arbitration projections: Salary figures for 12 A's candidates

MLB arbitration projections: Salary figures for 12 A's candidates

The A's have 12 players who are eligible for arbitration this offseason, which could lead to some difficult decisions.

MLB Trade Rumors has released its annual arbitration projections for every team in MLB. Here are the salary figures they expect for Oakland:

Marcus Semien - $13.5 million
Blake Treinen - $7.8 million
Jurickson Profar - $5.8 million
Liam Hendriks - $5.5 million
Mark Canha - $4.9 million
Sean Manaea - $3.5 million
Robbie Grossman - $3.3 million
Chris Bassitt - $2.8 million
Josh Phegley - $2.2 million
Ryan Buchter - $1.8 million
Chad Pinder - $1.8 million
Jharel Cotton - $800k

Right off the bat, it appears that the A's will have four strong non-tender candidates: Blake Treinen, Jurickson Profar, Robbie Grossman, and Ryan Buchter. Josh Phegley is another possibility, though he is expected to return.

As dominant as Treinen was in 2018, the A's can't afford to take a $7.8 million gamble on a 31-year-old who struggled with his performance and injuries this season. Liam Hendriks overtook Treinen as the closer and is a much better bargain at an estimated $5.5 million.

As we detailed on Tuesday, Profar is a strong trade or non-tender possibility for a couple of reasons. The 26-year-old had a mostly disappointing season in 2019, both at the plate and in the field. With Sheldon Neuse, Jorge Mateo, and Franklin Barreto all waiting in the wings, not to mention Chad Pinder, Profar isn't worth bringing back at nearly $6 million.

Grossman could be a decent fourth outfielder option, but $3.3 million seems a little pricey, especially with Chad Pinder and possibly Seth Brown filling that role. The A's also have Dustin Fowler and Skye Bolt for depth purposes.

Buchter posted respectable numbers as a left-handed relief specialist, going 1-1 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings. However, he will lose a great deal of value next season when pitchers must face a minimum of three batters. That means he will have to face more right-handed hitters, a group that has given him significant trouble throughout his career.

[RELATED: Oakland mayor Schaaf confirms A's could relocate to Vegas]

Not surprisingly, Marcus Semien is in line for the biggest raise of anyone on the team. The 29-year-old is projected to earn $13.5 million next season, more than double his $5.9 million salary this year.

Semien certainly earned that raise, slashing .285/.369/.522 with 33 home runs, 43 doubles, 92 RBI, and 123 runs scored, while playing phenomenal defense at shortstop. The only question is whether the A's will sign Semien to an extension, as he is due to become a free agent after the 2020 season.

Mark Canha, Sean Manaea, Chris Bassitt, Chad Pinder, and Jharel Cotton should all be no-brainers to return at their respective salary projections.

Why A.J. Puk is ahead of Jesus Luzardo on Keith Law's top prospects list

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AP

Why A.J. Puk is ahead of Jesus Luzardo on Keith Law's top prospects list

No matter what outlet you look at, the A's top three prospects usually goes as follows: Pitchers Jesus Luzardo and A.J. Puk, and then catcher Sean Murphy. 

It's a bit different for The Athletic's Keith Law, though. While Law agrees the trio is Oakland's three best prospects, he doesn't agree with the order of many others. Puk is the A's top prospect at No. 21 in Law's top 100, followed by Luzardo at 26 and Murphy at 36. 

Luzardo's injury history concerns Law. 

"If he can hold up as a starter, he has a higher pure ceiling than teammate A.J. Puk, with better secondaries and probably better present command," Law says. "But he just hasn’t shown a track record of durability or health, even going back to high school, to instill confidence that he can take the ball 30 times." 

A shoulder strain held Luzardo out for the first two months of the season last year. He then dealt with a setback in July when he was diagnosed with a Grade 2 lat strain. 

Puk doesn't have a clean bill of health either. The 6-foot-7 left-hander was threatening to make the Opening Day roster out of spring in 2018, but underwent Tommy John surgery in April and missed the first two months of last season. 

When the two are healthy, however, they're two of the best young southpaws in baseball. Puk, 24, showcased his potential by striking out former NL MVP Kris Bryant on three pitches, highlighted by a nasty slider. 

The lanky lefty made his MLB debut on Aug. 21 last season and appeared in 10 games out of the bullpen. He went 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA and struck out 13 batters in 11 1/3 innings. His command could hurt him, but Law believes Puk will at least be a solid No. 2 in the rotation. 

"He may never have the command to be an ace, but he looks like he’ll miss enough bats with the three primary weapons to be a good No. 2," Law says. 

[RELATED: Why A's no longer tab Puk, Luzardo with prospect label]

Luzardo, 22, needed only 43 innings in the minors last year before making his big league debut on Sept. 11. Once he reached Oakland, Luzardo only allowed two earned runs over 12 innings and notched 16 strikeouts.

But since the Washington Nationals selected him in the third round of the 2016 draft, Luzardo only has averaged slightly over 65 innings pitched per season. 

Even with their age and injury histories, Puk and Luzardo easily could become the A's aces this season in a deep rotation. New ballpark or not, the future is bright in Oakland.

A's Bob Melvin thrilled to have difficult Opening Day starter decision

A's Bob Melvin thrilled to have difficult Opening Day starter decision

MESA, Ariz. -- The A's have a problem: Figuring out who will get the ball on Opening Day.

Yes, it's early to think about, but it's a stellar problem to have. One manager Bob Melvin is not used to.

The obvious smile on his face during the cool morning at Hohokam Stadium showed he likes knowing he has plenty of strong options.

"Literally you can throw it in a hat and pick it out, and I don't anyone would have a problem with it," Melvin told reporters Monday. 

He understands it's not an easy decision, especially this time around.

"There are a lot of things that go into picking your Opening Day starter, so we'll probably wait a little while to give you that news."

As a veteran, Mike Fiers will have a promising case for the job against the Twins on March 26. He didn't get the start over Sean Manaea for the AL Wild Card Game last postseason, but that doesn't signify much. 

Young lefties and A's top prospects A.J. Puk and Jesús Luzardo also will be part of the equation. 

Luzardo, put up sensational numbers in 2019, albeit in a small sample size. He boasted a 1.50 ERA with a 0.667 WHIP and 16 strikeouts in 12 innings, facing just 46 batters.

Puk came out of the bullpen last season as well and will vie for a spot in the starting rotation.

[RELATED: Fiers gets cheers in first appearance since Astros article]

The A's will also get a full season of Frankie Montas, who is coming off of an 80-game PED suspension in 2019. He went 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 2019. 

Chris Bassitt also will be thrown in the mix. He showed his diversity last season, moving to the bullpen after Blake Treinen was out with a back injury.

He could be a sixth-man option or continue a reliever slot, but either way, Melvin will put Bassitt in a position to succeed.

Regardless of who gets the ball on March 26, the A's will not be short on options.

Melvin said his bullpens have been great.