The A’s scratched an item from their to-do list Tuesday by signing reliever Jesse Chavez to a one-year, $775,000 contract.
Chavez was one of eight remaining Oakland players eligible for arbitration, and the A’s historically have had success agreeing to terms with such players before any case actually heads to an arbitration panel.
The 30-year-old Chavez plays a supporting role in a bullpen that has made marquee additions this winter with closer Jim Johnson and setup man Luke Gregerson. Chavez went 2-4 with a 3.92 ERA and one save in 35 appearances last season.
How often will he take the mound in 2014? A’s fans should hope not much. Chavez served as the team’s long reliever last season, and when he enters a game, it often means an Oakland starter has been knocked out early and failed to do his job.
Chavez should stand a good chance of keeping that same role this season, though there will be several relievers competing for what figures to be just two open spots, assuming the A’s carry a seven-man bullpen. Johnson, Gregerson, Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Dan Otero seem assured of five of those jobs. Chavez will compete with Fernando Abad, Fernando Rodriguez, Evan Scribner and possibly newcomers Josh Lindblom and Drew Pomeranz for the last two spots.
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But Chavez is a known quantity to the A’s and he seems comfortable going long gaps of time between appearances. That’s not easy for all pitchers.
Oakland’s remaining arbitration-eligible players are Johnson and Gregerson, outfielders Josh Reddick and Craig Gentry, catcher/DH John Jaso, shortstop Jed Lowrie and first baseman Brandon Moss.
If any of these players remain unsigned by Jan. 17, the A’s will exchange official salary figures with each player -- the team offering the money it believes the player is worth for 2014, and the player’s representatives countering with their own offer. The sides can continue negotiating after that date, but if they can’t agree, an independent panel will hear each side’s case and award the player one salary or the other.