The A’s cut their remaining arbitration cases in half Thursday by agreeing to one-year deals with newly acquired catcher John Jaso and left fielder-designated hitter Seth Smith.
Reliever Jerry Blevins and first baseman-outfielder Brandon Moss are the team’s remaining arbitration-eligible players.
Jaso, picked up from the Mariners in a three-team deal Wednesday, was eligible for arbitration for the first time. While the A’s obviously view him as pretty valuable — they gave up one of their top pitching prospects in A.J. Cole to get him — an arbitration process that rewards homers, runs batted in and at-bats probably wouldn’t have seen things the same way. He hit .276/.394/.456 with 10 homers and 50 RBI in 294 at-bats for Seattle last season.
Smith, acquired from the Rockies last winter, hit .240/.333/.420 in 383 at-bats in his first year in Oakland. He’d seem to be looking at a reduced role this year unless one of the outfielders ahead of him is traded. The 30-year-old made $2.415 million last season in his first year of arbitration. He’ll be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.
That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.
Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.