Brandon Inge joins A’s, will start tonight at third base

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UPDATE: As expected, Inge finalized his deal and will be the A’s starting third baseman tonight. Luke Hughes was designated for assignment to make room on the roster after his reign as Oakland’s starting third baseman lasted a week.

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Brandon Inge’s deal with the A’s isn’t quite official yet, but Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the contract will be finalized in time for the veteran third baseman to be in the starting lineup tonight versus the Red Sox.

Inge will get every opportunity to be the A’s regular third baseman after the team cycled through Luke Hughes, Eric Sogard, and Josh Donaldson following Scott Sizemore’s season-ending knee injury, getting abysmal production offensively and defensively.

At this stage of his career Inge might only be viewed as an upgrade compared to that trio, however, as he’s hit .190 with four homers and a .538 OPS in 111 games dating back to the beginning of last season and hasn’t cracked a .250 batting average or .725 OPS since way back in 2006.

After releasing Inge the Tigers are on the hook for his entire $5.5 million salary and a $500,000 buyout of his contract for 2013, so if nothing else giving the 35-year-old a chance doesn’t cost the A’s much.

Padres will try to lock up Fernando Tatís Jr. to a long term deal

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The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will try to get Fernando Tatís Jr. locked up in a long-term deal before the start of the 2020 season.

It’d be a wise move from the team’s perspective, of course. Tatís showed in 2019 that he’s the future of the franchise, hitting .317/.379/.590 with 22 homers and 16 stolen bases through 84 games while playing spectacular defense at short. He was a serious contender for the Rookie of the Year Award before going down to injury and still finished third despite playing just a tad over half a season.

That talent and promise means that, in all likelihood, Tatís stands to make massive money in arbitration and free agency once he gets there. If he gets there, that is. Because as we’ve seen so often in recent years, teams have been aggressive in their efforts to lock up young stars like Tatís, buying out their arbitration and at least a couple of their free agency years. These deals tend to be team-friendly, with multiple team options aimed at getting maximal value out of such players before they hit the open market. Of course, the players get much more up front money than they would in the three seasons in which teams can and do set their salaries unilaterally, usually at less than $1 million per year. It’s a standard now vs. later tradeoff, even if the value of the “now” is far less than the value of “later” and even if it pays these guys far less than they’re worth overall.

But that’s the system. And it’s one which will force Tatís to make a tough choice: either take a deal at a time when the team has most of the leverage or else turn down millions in hand now in order take a shot at many more millions later. In his case, he’ll have a rookie season with multiple injuries to think about too. Does that portend future injury issues? Could he, like some players who have been in his shoes before, end up damaged goods by the time he expected to get paid?

We’ll see how both he and the Padres calculate all of that between now and February, it seems.