Projecting the Oakland Athletics' remaining arbitration cases

The Athletics have two arbitration eligible players with unresolved contracts ahead of Friday's deadline.

Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins
Oakland Athletics v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages
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The deadline for MLB teams to file arbitration salary figures is this Friday, January 12th. Coming into the offseason, the Athletics had six players eligible for arbitration, though the majority of those cases have been resolved.

The Athletics outrighted Austin Pruitt, Carlos Perez, and James Kaprelian, removing them from consideration. They came to terms with lefty Sean Newcomb at the beginning of November, agreeing to a $1 million deal for 2024.

They also acquired Abraham Toro via trade and claimed Miguel Andujar, both of whom were arbitration eligible for 2024. The A's came to terms with both earlier in the offseason, signing Toro for $1.275 million, and Andujar for $1.7 million.

Just two players remail without a contract: right hander Paul Blackburn and outfielder Seth Brown. MLB Trade Rumors is estimating $3.2 million for Blackburn, and $2.4 million for Brown.

Blackburn has been a solid pitcher when healthy the last two seasons. While injuries to his throwing hand have limited him to just 215 innings in 2022-2023 combined, he's put up a 4.35 ERA and posted a 2.6 strikeout to walk ratio.

His strikeout rate jumped substantially in 2023, from 19.1% to 22.4%. His barrels allowed were way down, from 7% to 5.7%, and he lowered his hard hit rate by nearly 8 full percentage points. Those are all positive signs for the 30 year old.

If Blackburn can stay healthy, which is far from a given considering he's never thrown more than 111 innings in a season, he can be an effective starter at the top of the Athletics' rotation. He's a free agent after 2024 and though David Forst has explicitly stated that the A's aren't trading Blackburn, he could be a trade candidate if he's pitching well at the deadline in late July.

Like Blackburn, Forst has told reporters that the A's won't be moving Seth Brown, at least not before the season starts. Brown has been a decent platoon bat for the A's the past three seasons and provides experience in an outfield filled with younger players.

He's coming off a year in which he hit .234/.294/.444 with 14 home runs against right-handed pitchers. Despite being 60% worse than league average against lefties, working the long side of a platoon and playing serviceable defense in the outfield corners should keep Brown on the field in 2024.

Ultimately, the projections feel about right. Blackburn earned $1.9 million in 2023, while Brown just finished up his final year of team control at the league minimum. Brown might get a bit less, but Blackburn should be right around $3 million.

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