Oakland Athletics: 7 Players the A's Should Lock Up Long Term
Right now the Oakland athletics are trying to establish a core of a winning team. They have already given two players multi-year contracts: Brett Anderson and Kurt Suzuki. Although they still have some cheap young players who haven't hit arbitration, I think they should continue to create a young core and give some players long contracts.
A team like the A's, a team with not too much cash, has to lock up franchise players early. They need to do a better job at that, as the last time the A's made the playoffs was 2006, and they have exactly two players from that team today, and that's only if you count Rich Harden. The other is Mark Ellis.
If the A's wait too long to give their good players long-term deals, the exact same thing will happen. They'll make the playoffs one year, and then rebuild two years later. So here's some players I think the Athletics should add to their core of two. They're listed in no particular order.
This one's kind of obvious. He made his first All-Star Game at age 22 going 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA. He's a good ground ball pitcher, but he doesn't strike out a lot of hitters.
I originally had some concerns that he struggled against contending offenses like the Yankees. Then I looked at his game log, and he threw some great games against good teams, including a two-hit, eight-inning shutout against the Rangers in Texas. That's not easy.
I think Cahill, of all the A's players, is the one most in need of an extension. He would probably agree to a contract similar to Brett Anderson's, and he would be well worth it.
While a lot of A's fans don't appreciate him because of his errors and batting average, this guy contributes a lot to the team. He had 46 RBIs and 29 SBs batting ninth in 2010.
In regards to defense, just watch the two plays at 1:01 in the video. He makes plays like those pretty often, and that's a big reason why Trevor Cahill is so "lucky" with his BABIP. Errors are a concern, but the hits he takes away outweigh the throws in the dirt.
Because of the unattractive batting average, Pennington could be locked up for something similar or less than Kurt Suzuki's four-year, $16.25 million deal. That's a small price to pay for big plays on defense and a decent hitter who will bat ninth.
I know he's a utility player, but Adam Rosales is a guy you want to keep around. There's his sprinting home run trot, and his hustle as a whole is encouraging to everyone.
Hustle alone won't get you a contract extension though. Rosales played all four infield positions plus left field this year, and he's decent with a bat too. He hit .271 with seven HRs in 255 ABs.
Rosales would probably like the financial security of a long-term deal too, so I think the A's should spring for some cheap hustle in Rosales.
Even though Josh Willingham hasn't played a game for the A's, they should, and are looking into a contract extension for him. Willingham's agent said that his client is "very open" to an extension in Oakland. I think it's a good idea, considering that Willingham consistently records an OPS in the .800s and HR totals around the 20s.
The big concern is health. He's played an average of about 116 games in the past three years, and that's what's holding him back from the 25-30 HR range.
Willingham would be relatively cheap though, as he could be signed to a $5-10 million a year deal. That's well worth a .845 OPS and 20 HRs.
While Billy Beane has shown that closers are relatively replaceable, Brian Wilson has also shown how important they are in the playoffs. Closers are especially important for teams like the A's, who play close games.
Andrew Bailey, who won the 2009 ROY, has two All-Star games under his belt. He's a great closer. He would be well worth a big contract if he could stay healthy. An extension would also boost his value in a trade should they decide to deal him.
A lot of people might consider this premature, but I think it would be a great idea to give Chris Carter a big multiyear contract. I don't know if anyone remembers Evan Longoria's deal, but he got a six-year, $17.5 million contract after playing six big league games. They only have to pay the All-Star $2.5 million in 2011. Wow.
Carter's first stint in the big leagues didn't go so well, but in the 13 games from when he recorded his first hit to the last regular season game, the rookie hit .342 with three HRs. He's shown in the minors that he takes a little time to adjust to new levels of play, but once he does he has as much power as anyone.
The concern about giving him a big contract is that he probably won't start 2011 in the big leagues. Daric Barton is the first basemen, and they have three veteran starters in the outfield already (Willingham, Crisp and DeJesus), and a veteran DH (Matsui).
Regardless of playing time and adjustment periods, I think it would be wise to give Chris Carter a long-term contract while he's not too expensive.
Gio Gonzalez has shown some tremendous improvement over the past two years. In 2008, his ERA was 7.68. In 2009, it was 5.75. This year, it was 3.23, and that was over 200.2 innings with decent K numbers. That's a whole 4.45 plunge over two years. While it's unreasonable to expect Gio to drop his ERA another two points, he will improve some in 2011.
It's extremely important to lock up pitchers like Gonzalez while possible. I've seen Yankee fans take notice, and inevitably the GMs of big-market teams will take notice of Gio Gonzalez. There's no way the A's can outbid teams with money for a guy with Gonzalez's numbers if he hits the market.
That's Barry Zito in the photo. Anyone remember him? In order for the A's to make the playoffs consistently, they need to keep their good players. In order to keep their good players, they need money. And in order to have money, they need fans. And they will have none if they either let their players walk or deal them all the time.
I live in the East Bay, and I know why people don't go to A's games. Two reasons.
One, the Coliseum.
And two, they completely turn over their roster every five years.
They have the opportunity to stop one of the reasons. Sign a couple more of the young, promising players to multiyear deals. And then when the A's build the new stadium they're talking about, they will have an opportunity to attract fans. And wouldn't that be great.