MLB Year in Review: Oakland Athletics

Gauging just how far the second-lowest payroll can get a Major League Baseball team.

Right-handed pitcher Lou Trivino, prior to his mid-season trade to New York.

Wikimedia Commons

Right-handed pitcher Lou Trivino, prior to his mid-season trade to New York.

Matty Hauth, Copy Editor

Oakland baseball has consistently been one of the most unpredictable storylines across the four major North American sports for the past decade.


The 2022 season does anything but contest this point.


The Oakland Athletics – commonly referred to as simply the Oakland A’s – have had a winning percentage at or above .500 a total of 15 times from 2000-2021. Simply put, the team is consistently successful.


The A’s are notorious for having one of the lowest payrolls in the majors. In fact, the A’s haven’t had a top-20 payroll since the 2007 season. Over the course of their history, the A’s have never handed out a contract exceeding $70 million total.


Prior to the start of the 2022 season, the New York Mets signed star pitcher Max Scherzer to a 3-year pact worth $43.3 million per year. Entering this same season, the Oakland Athletics’ entire payroll was estimated to range from $43.75-$48 million.


So how does one team end up paying a similar amount of money to 26 players as another does to just one?


The A’s spent a total of $1.7 million on signing two players this off-season, and traded All-Star third baseman Matt Chapman to the Toronto Blue Jays, along with shipping power-hitting first baseman Matt Olson to the Braves. The A’s also sent starters Chris Bassitt and Sean Manaea to the Mets and Padres, respectively.


Most of these deals were aimed towards a singular goal: salary relief. Some were prioritizing the returning prospects, though even these chips refused to justify the annual sell-off.


Entering the season, the A’s were projected to win 68 games in 2022 according to ESPN, which was heavily reliant on their prospects coming up big.


Entering the Aug. 2 trade deadline, the A’s sat at a 39-65 record, which put them at a 61-win pace. Needless to say, they were set up to sell contributing pieces for prospects, yet again.


Most significantly, the A’s shipped off notable starting pitcher Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trivino to the New York Yankees in exchange for star pitching prospects Ken Waldichuk, JP Sears, and Luis Medina, along with infield prospect Cooper Bowman.


This bolstered the A’s triple-A staff. Greatly.


Waldichuk, a left-handed pitcher many Yankees fans anticipated seeing in pinstripes this season, has been lights out in the minor leagues this year. Similarly, JP Sears already made a massive impact with the big league club, only giving up 5 earned runs and 14 hits across 22 innings prior to being traded.


For the remainder of the season, the A’s have nothing to strive for. With the new MLB Draft Lottery in 2023, having the worst record no longer secures any team a first-overall pick. They’ve safely put themselves well outside of playoff contention, meaning another goal is gone.


The A’s have consistently put up winning seasons, despite running an incredibly low payroll. This year, however, the A’s have disappointed greatly, with their sights and ambitions set for 2023.