Oakland Athletics: Which Arbitration-Eligible Players Are Worth Keeping?

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Aug 19, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jesse Chavez (30) throws a pitch against the Los Angeles Dodgers during the second inning at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Relief Pitchers

Jesse Chavez

2015 Salary: $2.2 million

Projected 2016 Salary: $4.7 million

You may have noticed that this 26-game starter was missing from the starting pitchers list, and this is because Chavez has a long-documented history of being a much more effective relief pitcher than starting pitcher. Pair this fact with the aforementioned already-crowded starting rotation, putting Chavez back in the ‘pen becomes an easy decision for the Athletics.

The model recommends a $2.5 million raise for Chavez, bumping him up to $4.7 million next year. A’s fans now know the true value of good relief pitching, and it is somewhere in the infinity dollar amount. The Athletics were willing to pay Tyler Clippard $8.3 million for his services in 2015, so the club should certainly jump on the opportunity to keep a pitcher that can deliver significantly more innings at around half the cost. 

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Conclusion: Pay him, and don’t let him leave the bullpen.

Fernando Abad

2015 Salary: $1.1 million

Projected 2016 Salary: $1.5 million

If this article was being written one year ago, it would have prematurely argued that Abad should have been awarded any sum of money he wanted. After all, he was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in 2014. Posting a 1.57 ERA through 57.1 innings is not an easy accomplishment.

There were warning signs from 2014 that projected he would be less effective in 2015, though. The first is that his 3.25 FIP in 2014 was more than twice his ERA. This means that the A’s 2014 defense lifted the reliever’s performance frequently. The A’s defense deteriorated significantly in 2015, and it revealed what kind of pitcher Abad is when Jed Lowrie, Josh Donaldson, and Yoenis Cespedes aren’t playing defense on the left half of the field.

So is a struggling Abad worth $1.5 million? It may not sound like a lot of money, but it could account for a meaningful chunk of salary for a more effective player.

Other relief pitchers that were paid in the neighborhood of $1.5 million in 2015 include Kelvin Herrera and Tom Wilhelmsen. This salary range is also a neighborhood for some less notable relievers, but it does demonstrate that the A’s can use that money more wisely.

Conclusion: Release Abad, and put his salary towards a more reliable reliever.

Next: Part Three: Infielders