Arbitration 2015: A’s style

There’s very good news, then there’s some more good news and honestly, not a whole lot of bad news this year when it comes to the Oakland Athletics and their 12 arbitration eligible players: Josh Reddick, Ike Davis, Jesse Chavez, Brett Lawrie, Craig Gentry, Ryan Cook, Fernando Rodriguez, Eric Sogard, Jarrod Parker, Fernando Abad, Sam Fuld and newly acquired reliever Tyler Clippard.

The Very Good News:

The A’s were able to avoid arbitration entirely by coming to terms with eight players, meaning the two sides were able to agree upon a salary that felt fair for both sides for the 2015 season. It ended up breaking down as follows:

  • Josh Reddick: $4.1 million
  • Ike Davis: $3.8 million
  • Jesse Chavez: $2.15 million
  • Brett Lawrie $1.925 million
  • Sam Fuld: $1.75 million
  • Craig Gentry: $1.6 million
  • Ryan Cook: $1.4 million
  • Fernando Rodriguez: $635,000

Josh Reddick, who took the A’s almost to the day of his schedule arbitration hearing to settle on a number somewhere between his offer and the A’s offer, in 2014. He ended up making $2.7 million (in my opinion the A’s overpaid) last season and this year he’ll be recieving a $1.4 million raise plus awards based incentives.

A number of other players received similar incentives along with their raises. Reliever Ryan Cook, new third baseman Brett Lawrie and outfielder Sam Fuld each recieved a similar incentives-based package.

It appears to be the standard that the A’s were offering this year to their players with the most MLB service time. Cook’s package was a little different but only because as a pitcher he’s, for example, more likely to win a Cy Young Award than a Silver Slugger Award.

Four players could not reach a settlement with the A’s by Friday’s 10am PT deadline and will have arbitration hearings scheduled.

Josh Reddick. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.
Josh Reddick. Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images.

Many other teams refuse to negotiate with their players once the intial salary figures have been filed. The A’s however have been able to avoid arbitration hearings all but two times under the leadership of general manager Billy Beane. Beane allows negotiations to continue in hopes of avoiding any hearings and any subsequent hard feelings.

Once a salary arbitration hearing commences there are only two outcomes, the team pays their initial filing amount or the player wins and gets their originally proposed number. There is no middle ground anymore. By leaving the negotiations open until the hearings begin taking place between February 1-21, Beane makes it possible for a middle ground to be found and agreed upon.

Under Billy Beane, who took over for the A’s as general manager in 1997, the A’s have only gone to hearings with Ariel Prieto in 2000 and Juan Cruz in 2005. As previously mentioned they were dangerously close to going to their third hearing with Josh Reddick last year but escaped at the last minute by finding a number both sides found suitable.

For more information on salary arbitration CLICK HERE to read my post: Salary Arbitration and Hearings in MLB Explained.

Here are the proposed salary numbers by the four players who have yet to settle:

  • Tyler Clippard
    • Player: $8.85 million
    • Club: $7.775 million
    • Mid-point: $8.3125 million
  • Jarrod Parker
    • Player: $1.7 million
    • Club: $850,000
    • Mid-point: $1.275 million
  • Eric Sogard
    • Player: $1.425 million
    • Club: $900,000
    • Mid-point: $1.1625 million
  • Fernando Abad
    • Player: $1.225 million
    • Club: $850,000
    • Mid-point: $1.0375 million

The Good News:

The good news is that set-up man Tyler Clippard, who was acquired by the A’s in exchange for Yunel Escobar this week, will likely not cost more than originally thought. Matt Schwartz at MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Clippard would make $9.3 million in 2015 and he’s only for a smaller salary than that meaning that the A’s will not have to pay him more than the $8.85 million asked for.

Tyler Clippard. Getty Images.
Tyler Clippard. Getty Images.

More good news is that it is likely that the A’s will be able to settle with Eric Sogard and Fernando Abad without going to hearings. The parties figures are not far apart and the middle ground numbers are reasonable. I don’t personally know Abad but the Sogard’s are reasonable, and sweet people who seem the types to negotiate openly.

Plus, the club obviously started out with a number below $1 million in both players cases to leave room for negotiation. I’d guess that the club is willing to at least give each player $1 million for the upcoming season and I foresee both players finding that fair.

The Other News:

This news isn’t necessarily bad news so I am simply calling it the “other news” and that is that the fourth player who is filing for arbitration and could not reach an agreement with the club is starting pitcher Jarrod Parker.

Parker is in a highly unique position. This is the first year he’s been eligible for arbitration but he sat out all of the 2014 season recovering from his second Tommy John surgery. He wants the money he believes he deserves from the two years prior that he was able to pitch. He has a career ERA of 3.86 which is not bad at all.

Jarrod Parker. Getty Images.
Jarrod Parker. Getty Images.

However, I see the A’s dilemma here. This is not just about the fact that Parker did not pitch last season, it’s about the fact that it is much harder to comeback and be the same pitcher after a second Tommy John surgery.

If they give Parker his requested $1.7 million they could be paying for a player who may end up being completely ineffective. There are no guarantees that he’ll be able to pitch like he used to which is why they offered a fair $850,000. Of course Parker finds this unfair and the rest of us will just have to wait and see how this scenario unfolds. I’d assume that a lot of that depends upon how Parker’s recovery is progressing, as of now there isn’t much word on that front.

Overall the A’s have mostly good news to report after the arbitration filing deadline. Unless Jarrod Parker takes this all the way to a hearing, the A’s will likely try to settle with the right-hander first.

Here are links to a few related articles I’ve written about Salary Arbitration and Hearings as well as about the struggle the A’s had last season coming to terms with Josh Reddick:

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