OAKLAND -- Coming off a wildly successful season with a group of players that is largely under club control, Oakland's offseason work figures to be minimal.
Though Billy Beane defied that notion by trading for outfielder Chris Young less than two weeks after his club's Game 5 loss to the Tigers in the American League Division Series, the A's general manager is likely primed for smaller headlines in the coming months.
Beane's biggest priority at the moment is settling Stephen Drew's situation -- the shortstop has a $10 million mutual option for 2013. From there, he can turn his attention to free agents Brandon McCarthy and Jonny Gomes.
Teams can start signing free agents beginning after 9 p.m. PT on Thursday.
There's a good chance McCarthy is back, while Gomes' return seems less likely now that Young is in the fold alongside four other outfielders. Don't expect to see Brandon Inge or Bartolo Colon back, either.
Outside of their own free agents, though, the A's don't figure to be too busy exploring the open market for others, never mind a few pieces to add for organizational depth.
Free agents: Gomes, Colon, McCarthy, Inge
Eligible for arbitration: RHPs Joey Devine, Pat Neshek; LHPs Jerry Blevins, Dallas Braden; OF Seth Smith; INFs Daric Barton, Adam Rosales; C George Kottaras
Club options: RHP Grant Balfour ($4.5 million, with a $350,000 buyout)
Mutual options: Drew ($10 million, with a $1.35 million buyout)
Non-tender possibilities: Braden, Devine
Areas of need
Veteran starter: The A's have the makings of a solid five-man rotation in Brett Anderson, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone, A.J. Griffin and Dan Straily. Yet, because of the unexpectedly quick progression of a few of these names, little depth remains at the upper levels of the Minors. Brad Peacock and Sonny Gray don't appear quite ready -- which, in turn, makes the signing of a starter, specifically one with plenty of experience, important. The A's can solve that issue by re-signing McCarthy and also inking another veteran to a one-year deal, as they've done in past years -- a la Colon, Rich Harden and Ben Sheets.
Shortstop: The A's can quickly cross this off their to-do list should they decide, in unison with Drew, to exercise his $10 million mutual option. However, if either side declines, Drew would become a free agent, and Oakland would be left with a gaping hole to fill in the middle of the infield. With few in-house options outside of Drew, following the trade of Cliff Pennington to Arizona, the A's would likely have to find their new answer through the slim free-agent pickings.
The A's payroll will surely increase from the $55 million they carried around this year, as $34 million in payroll is already tied up for just five players: Anderson, Young, Yoenis Cespedes, Coco Crisp and Balfour -- assuming Balfour's $4.5 million option is picked up, as expected. Add in Drew's potential $10 million earnings -- along with the raises to be awarded to the club's arbitration-eligible players and the salaries of the rest of the roster -- and it's feasible that the A's could be looking at a payroll of close to $70 million.