It was a shock when the Oakland A’s signed Trevor Rosenthal in free agency. Ownership had claimed poverty throughout the offseason, telling agents that they were unable to spend at all. Then, all of a sudden, they found $11 million to pay Rosenthal to be their closer in 2021.
As it turns out, that $11 million is not entirely what it seems. Rosenthal will receive that payout, but it will be over the course of three years.
Oakland A’s use creative finances with Trevor Rosenthal signing
In theory, this deal can help both sides. For Rosenthal, he will receive the bulk of his contract when he is theoretically with another team, potentially saving him from paying taxes in California. Although there is no mention of this being a deferred payment, or of the A’s paying Rosenthal any interest, he is guaranteed a payday for the next three years.
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For the A’s, there are two potential benefits. First, they were able to find a way to fit Rosenthal in their limited budget, adding a key part to the bullpen without taking on more salary than they can afford. While they will be on the hook for $8 million for a player who likely will not be with the team, it is potentially worth it for a playoff berth.
Secondly, the A’s may be able to get out of part of those future payments. Should Oakland struggle this season, and Rosenthal is sent elsewhere at the trade deadline, those payments would be taken on by the new team. The A’s could potentially have their closer at a discounted rate and avoid being on the hook for the rest of that salary.
This is the type of contract that the A’s needed to make if they were going to get significant upgrades. After all, they attempted to have a similar deal with Marcus Semien in their quest to bring him back. All it takes is for one player to accept, which happened with Rosenthal.
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The Oakland A’s had to be creative to afford Trevor Rosenthal. By spacing his salary out over three years, they could afford to bring him on.