The Oakland Athletics move slowly through free agency

The Oakland A's haven't done much of note so far this offseason. It's unlikely to pick up steam until after the owners vote on Oakland's relocation.

Oakland Athletics 2018 MLB Draft Day One
Oakland Athletics 2018 MLB Draft Day One / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The GM meetings ended a day early due to an illness spreading amongst the participants. The way things have been going that feels like an apt metaphor for the Oakland Athletics’ future. We’ve heard little in the way of rumors around the A’s roster heading into the offseason, and that feels unlikely to change prior to next week’s owners meetings.

The owners are expected to vote on the A’s relocation plans next week. They’ll determine whether John Fisher can move forward with his plans to uproot the franchise and move east. With the upcoming vote, along with the ballpark lease in Oakland set to expire after the 2024 season, the A’s find themselves in a unique spot trying to land potential free agents.

It’s possible that some players would be less willing to sign a multi-year deal not knowing if they’ll have to spend any time playing in a minor league ballpark in Las Vegas. None of the free agents the A’s signed prior to the 2023 season had contracts that extended past 2024 and we have much more clarity about the ballpark situation than we did a year ago, so the parallels aren’t exact.

It's unclear whether that issue will impact the A’s this offseason. According to a report ($) in the SF Chronicle, General Manager David Forst isn’t paying it too much attention. There’s only so much in Forst’s control, and where the team plays is outside the scope of his responsibilities.  

As far as how the team is approaching the 2024 roster, Forst told Chronicle reporter John Shea, “I think we have to be opportunistic…We are not a team that jumps out and sets the market, obviously, so we’ll have to wait a little bit and see what the opportunities are.”

Thus far, the opportunities have been slim, with the team adding Miguel Andujar off waivers and little else. Andujar is entering his third year of arbitration. Cot’s Contracts predicts that he’ll earn $2 million in 2024.

Including arbitration projections, the A’s look to be right around the $60 million mark for Competitive Balance Tax purposes. That would be a decrease from the $79 million following the 2023 season, so it’s fair to assume that the A’s have at least a little wiggle room in free agency.

How Forst uses any available payroll space on free agents will be a big factor in whether the A’s are relevant next year, or whether they’ll chase the wrong types of records again.