It’s the elephant in the room, and I don’t mean Stomper. It’s the point in every player’s career that they start to really get paid, because a $400K salary is simply not enough to survive on. It’s the awkward moment when teams and their players square off and debate why the player deserves one salary over another. Most of the time teams and the player come to terms on an agreement, but occasionally it does go to a hearing and that’s when it gets nasty as teams try to point out the player’s flaws in order to win the case. Going into the offseason the Athletics had 9 arbitration eligible players, Dallas Braden and Joey Devine have already been let go, Adam Rosales, Daric Barton, Pat Neshek, and now George Kottaras have come to terms on a deal for 2013, and Jerry Blevins, Brandon Moss, and Seth Smith have filed arbitration papers. Much of this is simply paper pushing, as there is still time between now and the arbitration hearings to hammer out a deal.
George Kottaras will receive a cool $1 million in 2013 to continue to serve as the backup catcher to Derek Norris the team announced. Kottaras hit .212/.280/.471 in 2 months with the Athletics after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers before the trading deadline in exchange for Fautino De Los Santos. His hits may have come few and far between, but he did hit twice the home runs 23 fewer plate appearances in Oakland (6) versus Milwaukee (3). Perhaps his true value though comes with the fact that he uses Too Short’s “Blow the Whistle” as his walk up song. It doesn’t get any more Oakland than that.
The 3 remaining players Blevins, Moss, and Smith will exchange arbitration numbers with the team on Friday, and the hearings will take place next month if no agreement is reached. According to the fantastic arbitration projections on MLBTradeRumors.com Blevins is expected to make $1 million, Moss $1.4 million, and Smith $3.3 million. I expect little issue in Blevins and Moss getting signed as their salaries are still relatively low, but if Smith is going to command a salary as high as $3+ million I could see him being moved sometime early in the season. Most teams wouldn’t bat an eye at someone like Smith on their team making that kind of money, but this is the Oakland Athletics we’re dealing with here. Right now Smith slots in as a 5th outfielder/DH and that might be too steep a price for someone in that role on the Athletics. Stay tuned as this situation develops, I have a feeling something could happen.