OAKLAND -- Friday presents yet another winter deadline for clubs to meet, the latest requiring teams to decide whether to tender contracts to each of their arbitration-eligible players.
Players that are tendered contracts will have several weeks to work out new deals with their teams before exchanging arbitration figures in January, while non-tendered players will immediately hit the open market.
For the A's, the process won't be so straightforward. For every easy decision, there's a not-so-easy one. Khris Davis, Marcus Semien, Blake Treinen, Sean Manaea, Mark Canha and Ryan Buchter fall into the former category, leaving seven players in limbo. Examining these cases:
The right-hander presents a peculiar case. Hendriks was designated for assignment by the Athletics in June, remained in the organization, tinkered with his throwing program in Triple-A and subsequently saw an uptick in his fastball, a series of events that ultimately led the A's to summon his services again in September. Hendriks became their designated "opener" as part of a newfound experiment and thrived in the role, even assuming it in the American League Wild Card Game. Oakland is likely more apt to bring him back than not.
The right-hander pitched well in green and gold upon his August arrival from Detroit, taking advantage of the Coliseum's pitcher-friendly confines and posting a 3.74 ERA in 10 games. The Athletic desperately need starting pitching help, but at Fiers' price? The A's are wavering on this one. Fiers could demand close to $10 million, per estimates from MLBTradeRumors.com, and could ultimately prove too costly for a club that has only so many dollars to shed -- a large portion of them expected to go to Davis, who will reap more than $16 million following his third straight 40-plus homer season.
The Athletics are likely preparing to part ways with Graveman, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. He drew Opening Day starts in each of the last two seasons and has enjoyed moderate success since coming over in the 2014 Josh Donaldson trade, but the A's appear ready to move on rather than risk a couple million dollars on his health. There's no guarantee he will rebound post-surgery -- and, even if he does, Oakland expects to have several other starting options at its disposal when that time comes.
Phegley lands among this group only because of outside speculation that his time with the A's could be done -- a mostly nonsensical observation given the team's obvious need for catching. Phegley not only comes at a reasonable price, just north of $1 million, but has been an extremely valuable asset behind the plate when healthy. The A's are seeking a catcher to replace free agent Jonathan Lucroy -- should they be unable to re-sign Lucroy -- but will presumably keep Phegley around in a platoon role, especially considering there's only so much depth at the position in the organization.
This is a tossup, and Gearrin may very well be left out of the mix when all is said and done. The right-hander came to the A's from Texas on Aug. 31 and appeared in just six games, allowing a pair of runs in two of them and none in the remaining four. The A's appear to have enough bullpen depth to withstand the loss of Gearrin, who will earn more than $2 million in arbitration.
Bassitt comes in relatively cheap, falling under the $2 million mark, so it would make sense for the pitching-poor A's to go ahead and keep him around. The right-hander is seemingly square in the mix for a rotation spot entering Spring Training, following a 2018 campaign that featured 11 big league appearances (seven starts). Bassitt turned in a 3.02 ERA across 47 2/3 innings in that span.
Dull offers the cheapest option among this group, projecting to make under a million bucks, so the A's will likely choose to keep the right-hander around for depth purposes. He split his time between Oakland and Triple-A in 2018, posting a 4.26 ERA in 28 games for the A's. Should they opt to non-tender him, they could attempt to re-sign him to a Minor League deal but consequently risk losing him to another team.