The Oakland Athletics continued their impressive run of avoiding MLB arbitration cases as they came to terms on one year contracts with five players over the last few days. Although the A’s have gone to arbitration in years past, they’ve managed to avoid it with some of their key parts, and 2011 will be no different. The A’s agreed to 2011 contracts with Dallas Braden, Josh Willingham, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Conor Jackson, and Brad Ziegler (courtesy Jane Lee and Susan Slusser).
The one-year contracts break down as follows:
1. Dallas Braden: $3.35 million
2. Josh Willingham: $6 million
3. Kevin Kouzmanoff: $4.75 million
4. Conor Jackson: $3.32 million
5. Brad Ziegler: $1.25 million
Ziegler’s deal is one of the more interesting because he reached his first year of arbitration courtesy of his Super Two status. The A’s have added serious depth to the bullpen and Ziegler’s numbers declined in 2010. It will be interesting to see what role he ends up filling this season. More importantly, if his numbers don’t improve, one has to wonder how long the team will continue giving him raises as he has three more years of arbitration in front of him.
Josh Willingham was in his final year of arbitration and will be a free agent at season’s end. He’s had health issues that have prevented him from completely realizing his potential. However, when healthy he’s put together impressive offensive numbers. The ideal early season A’s outfield at this point would have him in left field, Coco Crisp in center field and David DeJesus in right field.
Of course, given all the injuries, it makes sense to bring back Conor Jackson for one more year. Given the A’s injury woes the last decade, there’s an excellent chance Jackson will see significant playing time in 2011. Jackson will be a free agent in 2012 and I see very little likelihood that the A’s bring him back after 2011.