Athletics

Athletics

There is a zero percent chance the A's will bring back all eight of their free agents next season.

OK, maybe 0.1 percent.

The A's instead will pinpoint their most valuable free agents and do everything in their power to re-sign them.

With that in mind, we've created our own rankings of Oakland's free agents, not taking salary into account. Here are the most important players to bring back next season:

1. Jonathan Lucroy

It was tough to rank Lucroy above Jed Lowrie, but the A's catcher was critical in so many ways last season. He caught more runners stealing than any other catcher in Major League Baseball and did a masterful job with the A's pitching staff.

Lucroy's offensive numbers have been down the past couple of seasons, but he still managed to notch 100 hits, including 21 doubles, and 51 RBI. The 32-year-old also was a central part of the A's terrific clubhouse chemistry.

With highly regarded prospect Sean Murphy still likely a year away, the A's should make re-signing Lucroy a top priority.

2. Jed Lowrie

Lowrie is coming off the best season of his career, slashing .267/.353/.448 with 23 home runs and 99 RBI. He was rewarded with his first All-Star Game selection and recently was named a Gold Glove Award finalist as well.

Lowrie will turn 35 in April, but he shows no signs of slowing down. If he re-signs with Oakland, he again should be a key hitter in the middle of the lineup.

 

The only reason Lowrie is ranked below Lucroy on this list is the presence of Franklin Barreto, who likely will take over the everyday second base job in the future.

3. Edwin Jackson

Where would the A's have been without Jackson last season? With all of the injuries to the starting rotation, Oakland relied heavily on Jackson down the stretch, and he came through in a big way. Jackson, 35, went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and almost immediately became a clubhouse favorite.

A's executive vice president Billy Beane already has said that starting pitching will be a top priority this offseason. That should start with Jackson.

4. Trevor Cahill

Cahill's second stint with the A's was mostly successful. The 30-year-old went 7-4 with a 3.76 ERA in 21 appearances, including 20 starts.

Cahill helped keep the starting rotation afloat through Oakland's many injuries, and he certainly could provide some much-needed depth next season if the A's choose to bring him back.

5. Shawn Kelley

Kelley turned out to be a terrific acquisition for the stretch run. The 34-year-old went 1-0 with a 2.16 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 19 appearances with the A's.

Oakland already has a deep bullpen, especially with the return of Fernando Rodney, which is why Kelley is so low on this list. But if he wants to return, the A's should strongly consider bringing him back in 2019.

6. Jeurys Familia

Familia had an up-and-down season in 2018, finishing 8-6 with a 3.13 ERA and 18 saves between the Mets and A's. The 29-year-old was dominant when he first joined the A's but struggled to a 4.76 ERA in September.

Familia is expected to earn big money in free agency and probably won't return to the A's. This team has enough reliable bullpen arms to survive without him, although he probably would be welcomed back for the right price.

7. Brett Anderson

Anderson had a few great outings in 2018, but he mostly struggled en route to a 4-5 record and 4.48 ERA. The 30-year-old southpaw dealt with two arm injuries that landed him on the DL, but he recovered from both.

While the A's need depth in their starting rotation, there are probably better options out there than Anderson.

8. Matt Joyce

Joyce missed much of last season with a back injury and slashed just .208/.322/.353 in 207 at-bats. The 34-year-old was passed on the depth chart by younger outfielders like Nick Martini, Mark Canha, and Chad Pinder.

Joyce handled a frustrating season with class and professionalism, and he probably still could help another team next season. It just won't be the A's.