The A’s must decide by Monday night whether to tender contracts to nine players eligible for salary arbitration.
The group consists of pitchers Jerry Blevins, Jesse Chavez and Fernando Rodriguez; first basemen Daric Barton and Brandon Moss; catcher John Jaso; shortstop Jed Lowrie and outfielders Josh Reddick and Seth Smith.
Those tendered by Monday’s 9 p.m. deadline remain under team control, and the A’s will work to negotiate contracts with them (typically one-year deals) and avoid going before an arbitration panel to decide a salary. Non-tendered players will become free agents.
The A’s seemingly face tough decisions on a few players.
Smith, in his third year of arbitration eligibility, is due a salary in excess of $4 million. He often was the odd man out in playing time among A’s outfielders last season, and with touted prospect Michael Choice available for an increased role – not to mention the fact the A’s could look to acquire an outfielder this winter – Smith could be a non-tender candidate.
Barton saw increased playing time down the stretch in 2013 despite being booted from the 40-man roster twice earlier in the season. He’s likely due a salary in the $1.5 million range. The A’s may deem him expendable considering Moss’ emergence at first base and the presence of the right-handed hitting Nate Freiman as a potential platoon option.
Oakland’s trade for left-handed middle reliever Fernando Abad could put Blevins on the bubble. But Blevins, a member of the A’s bullpen since 2007, is more of a known quantity than Abad. And if left-hander Sean Doolittle winds up in the closer’s role, the A’s might prefer having two lefty relief arms available earlier in the game, which would point toward Blevins being tendered.
[RELATED: A's acquire LHP Abad from Nationals]
Rodriguez, a right-handed reliever, was sidelined the entire 2013 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery and represents a potential non-tender candidate. But he’s not slated to make much money in his first year of arbitration eligibility. The A’s could offer a contract and give Rodriguez a chance to win a roster spot in spring training.