OAKLAND -- The looming deadline for clubs and their arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary proposals for the 2021 season brings the A’s to their first case with star third baseman Matt Chapman.
After ascending to All-Star levels as the game’s top defender over the past few years, one playing on a minimum contract, Chapman headlines the six A’s eligible for arbitration. The A’s must also address the contracts of Chris Bassitt, Mark Canha, Sean Manaea, Frankie Montas and Lou Trivino by Friday’s 10 a.m. PT deadline to exchange salary figures.
It’s tough to gauge an appropriate salary for Chapman -- or any arbitration-eligible player, really -- given the shortened 2020 season. Another potential factor in Chapman's case could be that his '20 campaign was further shortened by season-ending hip surgery, leading to a down year that was limited to 37 games. However, the résumé Chapman has put together over his first four Major League seasons is impressive -- it includes an All-Star appearance in ‘19 and recognition as the game’s top defensive player two years straight, winning both Gold and Platinum Glove Awards in 2018 and 2019.
Here’s a look at all six of Oakland’s arbitration-eligible players, with all projected numbers from Cot's Baseball Contracts.
3B Matt Chapman
Stats in 2020: .232 average, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, .812 OPS in 37 games
Projected salary: $4.95 million
Long-term contract extensions have become a rarity for the A’s over the past decade or so. If there was ever a player who could be deemed worthy of bucking that trend, however, Chapman might be the most deserving given his recent production on both offense and defense, as well as his standing as a pillar of the franchise. The A’s still have some time to discuss a longer deal, as Chapman is not eligible for free agency until 2023. But if Chapman continues blossoming into one of the game’s exciting young stars, his price tag will rise in a hurry.
OF Mark Canha
Stats in 2020: .246 average, five home runs, 33 RBIs, .795 OPS in 59 games
Projected salary: $6.75 million
In 2019, Canha posted career highs in games played (126), runs scored (80), hits (112, matching 2015), home runs (26), batting average (.273) and OPS (.913). Though the ‘20 numbers weren’t quite as impressive, Canha was still a steady presence in the middle of the lineup for the entirety of the season. Entering his final year of arbitration, Canha is another player the A’s could look to engage in extension talks before he becomes a free agent at the end of the season.
RHP Chris Bassitt
Stats in 2020: 5-2 record, 2.29 ERA with 55 strikeouts across 63 innings in 11 starts
Projected salary: $4.7 million
Expected to pitch out of the bullpen entering 2020, Bassitt moved into the rotation prior to the start of the season and emerged as an unlikely ace who even garnered a pair of third-place votes for the American League Cy Young Award. He ended the year among the game’s elite, with his 2.29 ERA ranking third lowest among AL starters. Going through his second arbitration year, Bassitt -- who along with Canha is the longest-tenured player on the club -- should get a nice raise from his $2.25 million salary last season.
LHP Sean Manaea
Stats in 2020: 4-3, 4.50 ERA with 45 strikeouts across 54 innings in 11 starts
Projected salary: $4.95 million
Manaea battled through a slow start to finish strong, posting a 2.65 ERA over his final six regular-season outings. He made $3.75 million last year and will have one more year of arbitration after 2021 before he is eligible for free agency in 2023.
RHP Frankie Montas
Stats in 2020: 3-5, 5.60 ERA with 60 strikeouts across 53 innings in 11 starts.
Projected salary: $1.25 million
Montas, in his first year of arbitration eligibility, is coming off an up-and-down campaign that began with an Opening Day start and a 1.57 ERA through his first four outings. He showed flashes of a turnaround late in the season, with his stuff playing well in the postseason, and the A’s believe he can return to form as a top-of-the-rotation guy.
RHP Lou Trivino
Stats in 2020: 3.86 ERA with 26 strikeouts across 23 1/3 innings in 20 games
Projected salary: $850,000
Another first-year-arb player, Trivino bounced back from a career-worst ‘19 to the point that manager Bob Melvin entrusted him with more high-leverage situations out of the bullpen as the ‘20 season went along. With the A’s losing Liam Hendriks to the White Sox this offseason in free agency, the door is open for Trivino to compete for the vacant closer job in Spring Training.