Ryan Buchter

A's 2020 roster begins to take shape with three players non-tendered

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A's 2020 roster begins to take shape with three players non-tendered

The A's have decided to move on from a trio of veterans, non-tendering Blake Treinen, Ryan Buchter, and Josh Phegley on Monday, making them free agents.

Oakland did tender contracts to Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Robbie Grossman, Liam Hendriks, Sean Manaea, Chad Pinder and Marcus Semien, all eligible for arbitration this offseason. The A's also agreed to a one-year contract with left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, worth $1.8 million, a source told NBC Sports California.

None of the moves are particularly surprising, though Treinen figures to garner a great deal of interest on the free agent market. The 31-year-old is just a year removed from recording 38 saves and a 0.78 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings.

However, Treinen struggled in 2019, posting a 4.91 ERA and 1.62 WHIP, ultimately losing his closer job. The right-hander was projected to get close to $8 million in arbitration, so it was never realistic that he would return. Oakland reportedly tried to find a trade partner for Treinen but couldn't get a deal done before Monday's non-tender deadline.

Buchter was made expendable by McFarland's deal, particularly with MLB's rule changes for next season, which require a pitcher to face at least three batters before departing. The A's primarily used Buchter as a left-handed specialist over the past two seasons, which won't be an option next year.

Buchter, 32, went 1-1 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings last season. He was projected to get $1.8 million in arbitration.

As for Phegley, the writing was probably on the wall earlier Monday when Oakland acquired 25-year-old catcher Austin Allen from the Padres for second baseman Jurickson Profar. A left-handed hitter, Allen figures to back up Sean Murphy behind the plate, leaving no room for Phegley, who was projected to get $2.2 million in arbitration.

Phegley, 31, slashed .239/.282/.411 last season with a career-high 12 home runs and 62 RBI. He hit .233 in five years with the A's.

With the departures of Treinen, Buchter, Phegley, and Profar, the A's roster is beginning to take form for 2020. Youngsters Sheldon Neuse, Franklin Barreto, and Jorge Mateo will likely battle for the starting second baseman job, though Oakland could still bring in a veteran in free agency or via trade.

[RELATED: Profar trade gives A's infield situation clarity]

As expected, the bullpen is the area that needs the most work. The A's will bring back Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria, Lou Trivino, J.B. Wendelken, as well as McFarland and Bassitt. That leaves room for another couple of relievers in free agency.

Of course, the moves should really start to pick up next week when the baseball world converges on San Diego for the annual Winter Meetings.

Why new MLB rules could mean A's won't bring back Ryan Buchter in 2020

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Why new MLB rules could mean A's won't bring back Ryan Buchter in 2020

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Ryan Buchter, LHP

Contract: Second year of arbitration (projected to get $1.8 million after earning $1.4 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

Buchter did exactly what the A's brought him in to do -- retire left-handed hitters. The 32-year-old southpaw limited lefties to a .238 batting average, with 33 strikeouts and seven walks.

Buchter's overall numbers were respectable as well. He went 1-1 with a 2.98 ERA and 1.43 WHIP in 45 1/3 innings. That follows a 6-0 record in 2018 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.20 WHIP.

Reasons to let him go

With MLB changing its rules next season to require a pitcher to face a minimum of three batters, Buchter will lose a lot of value. The so-called LOOGY (left-handed one-out guy) role will disappear and lefty specialists will have to face some right-handers as well.

Right-handed hitter batted .274 off Buchter with 17 strikeouts, compared to 16 walks. While his overall ERA was under 3.00, Buchter allowed 15 of his 36 inherited runners to score, a rate of 41.7 percent. That's nearly 10 points higher than the league average of 32 percent.

Final verdict

Buchter had some good stretches over the past two seasons, but with rule changes and his high walk and hit rate, it's probably time for the A's to move on without him.

[RELATED: Why A's reliever Treinen could be non-tender candidate]

Right-handed hitters notched a .904 OPS against Buchter this season in 83 plate appearances. That will be an even bigger problem next year. Oakland can find better relievers for that $1.8 million price tag.

While $1.8 million is an affordable number, Oakland seems unlikely to bring Buchter back in 2020.

A's Ryan Buchter flourishing into new pitcher after demotion to minors

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A's Ryan Buchter flourishing into new pitcher after demotion to minors

OAKLAND -- It's been a tale of two seasons for Ryan Buchter, and we're only a third of the way through.

Between March 20 and April 21, the A's reliever allowed six earned runs, 12 hits, and seven walks in 7 2/3 innings. That translates to a 7.04 ERA and 2.48 WHIP.

On April 22, Buchter was demoted to Triple-A Las Vegas. A week later, he returned to the A's a new pitcher. Since April 29, the 32-year-old left-hander has pitched 9 2/3 innings, surrendering just one run, three hits, and five walks for a 0.93 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.

"I felt like I was throwing the ball better right before I got sent down and I just kind of picked up where I left off when I came back,” Buchter told NBC Sports California.

A's manager Bob Melvin has certainly taken notice of Buchter’s improvements.

"His velocity is better, it seems like," Melvin said. "He's got more conviction with what he's doing out there. I think, sometimes during the course of a season, you go through a tough period and you've got to find your way out of it."

As Melvin noted, Buchter's velocity is up. When he was sent down to Triple-A, his fastball was living between 92 and 93 mph. Since his return, it's been up around 94 to 95.

"He's throwing hard, he's locating a lot better, he's elevating as he does, and getting big outs when we need it," Melvin said. "He's doing exactly what we thought after last year."

That's because Buchter was phenomenal last season, going 6-0 with a 2.75 ERA in 54 appearances. That experience has helped him stay positive through his early struggles this year.

[RELATED: Numbers behind A's first win streak since 2006]

"I think that's the key in baseball," Buchter said. "It's taking your lumps and learning from it and being able to rebound and still trust yourself and have confidence. I think it's pretty hard to find a successful baseball player that's not confident in himself. When your confidence is down, you're going to struggle."

Right now, Buchter's confidence is sky-high, and the A’s hope it stays that way.