The Oakland A's won't have to worry about losing a large quantity of players this offseason in free agency as they only have two players who can test the open market. Those players are the A's two All-Stars in Bartolo Colon and Grant Balfour.
Most of the players who were instrumental in bringing a second straight A.L. West title to Oakland are under team control. Then there are the several players with contract options such as Coco Crisp, Kurt Suzuki, Chris Young and Brett Anderson.
Anderson can be bought out for $1.5 million or can have his option exercised and be on the 2014 roster for $8 million.
When you combine a low-payroll team like the Oakland A's and an injury-prone player who has appeared in 22 games between the last two seasons, the outcome is not good. Oakland will be paying him $8 million when he has not played more than 20 games in a season since 2009.
When you do the math, the A's would save $6.5 million to buy out Anderson and let him walk. For the small-market A's, that amount of money could be put to a much better purpose.
Oakland will need to compete financially with the open market to re-sign Balfour and Colon. If the A's could offer that $6.5 million to Balfour instead of Anderson, they will have a much better shot at keeping their All-Star closer.
There was a time when Anderson looked like the future ace of the A's rotation, but the times have changed in Oakland. The A's have Sonny Gray, Dan Straily, Jarrod Parker, Tommy Milone and more prospects who are far cheaper than Anderson and can play all—or at least most—of the season. I didn't include Colon on that list because of his free-agent status.
I'm not against Anderson staying in Oakland. If the A's were to buy him out and then re-sign him with a cheaper, incentives-based contract, they would save some money and keep a pitcher with potential. The A's could continue to use him as a relief pitcher to see if that helps his durability issues.
I am against paying him $8 million when he has not proven himself capable of playing a full season. That's $500,000 more for Anderson than Coco Crisp's club-option is worth. There is no way that Anderson means more to Oakland than Crisp. The A's can't afford the mistake of exercising Anderson's club-option for 2014.