According to Susan Slusser of the SF Chronicle, David Forst has committed to keeping two of their more tradable assets in 2024. According to Forst, pitcher Paul Blackburn and outfielder Seth Brown will be sticking around with the A's next year.
Right-hander Paul Blackburn has been the point of much trade speculation this offseason. He's one of the few tradeable assets the Athletics have left at the major league level, and many teams are notably in need of starting pitchers this offseason.
Blackburn is in his second year of salary arbitration, and won't become a free agent until after the 2025 season. He's dealt with injuries both of the past two years, but has been an effective pitcher when healthy.
In 2023, Blackburn pitched to the tune of a 4.43 ERA with a 22.4% strikeout rate in 103 innings. He put up similar stats in 2022, though with a slightly lower strikeout rate.
He'd fit in on most rosters as a back-end rotation guy, likely serving in the 4 or 5 spot in a competitive rotation. In Oakland, he'll be fighting with lefty JP Sears for the Opening Day nod.
Personally, I think the injury news for Ken Waldichuk has changed the narrative for Blackburn. What once may have been an expendable pitcher now becomes an integral part of the rotation for the A's.
If Blackburn can stay healthy, which is no sure thing, he should provide quality innings for the team. The A's need healthy pitchers. As currently constructed, the A's will have guys like Osvaldo Bido, Freddy Tarnok, and Hogan Harris in the mix for starts in 2024.
There's a limited amount of top-tier talent available in the system, and with the news of Mason Miller moving to the bullpen, that list only gets shorter. Keeping Blackburn around might be a move made more out of necessity than anything else.
Could Blackburn or Brown move at the 2024 trade deadline?
Outfielder Seth Brown has been a solid player during his 5 years in Oakland. Over his career, he's hit .227/.295/.440 with 59 homers, 19 steals, and respectable defense in the outfield corners.
Brown doesn't become a free agent until after the 2026 season. He's entering his first year of arbitration this offseason. He's projected to earn roughly $2 million next year.
Realistically, he's a platoon guy. He's played primarily against right-handed pitchers. He's hit .237 against them in his career, while hitting just .168 against lefties.
There should be enough playing time for him in 2024, depending on the performance of some of the young guys. Esteury Ruiz and JJ Bleday should be locked into everyday roles, but outside of that, we will likely see a rotating cast.
Lawrence Butler earned some playing time last year. Brent Rooker will be in the mix when he's not listed as the DH. The team also just acquired Miguel Andujar, and added post-hype prospect Lazaro Armenteros to the 40-man roster.
How Mark Kotsay utilizes that group will be interesting next year, for sure. Andujar hasn't been a good player for years, but the front office sees something in him that will likely earn him some playing time early on.
Depending on Butler's success, and whether or not Tyler Soderstrom presses the roster crunch issue, Brown could be a candidate to move at the trade deadline. For now though, he'll be one of the first to try to earn an opportunity to make the Opening Day lineup.