Inside Pitch: Budget Room for 2005?

With the acquisition of Jason Kendall, how much money will the A's have left for additional acquisitions for 2005? takes a look at the budget possibilities for 2005 in this edition of <i>Inside Pitch</i>...

The A's haven't publicly stated a budget for 2005. But it's expected to be in the $55-60 million range, similar to last season.

Barring another trade, which is always possible with proactive general manager Billy Beane, the A's won't have much room left in their 2005 budget now that the trade for catcher Jason Kendall is official. The A's sent pitchers Mark Redman and Arthur Rhodes to Pittsburgh.

Including Kendall, the A's have seven players signed for about $46 million next season, including buyouts for outfielder Jermaine Dye and reliever Chris Hammond.

It will cost another $8 million to $10 million in arbitration for Octavio Dotel, Erubiel Durazo, Chad Bradford and Eric Byrnes.

The trade adds $2.65 million to the A's payroll next season, at least $3.4 million in 2006 and $13 million in 2007. The Pirates will send the A's $5 million in 2007 to make up for the $13 million difference.

The A's could still use a power-hitting corner outfielder, preferably one who hits right-handed. The outfield right now consists of Byrnes, Mark Kotsay, highly touted prospect Nick Swisher, plus Bobby Kielty as a fourth outfielder.

The departure of Rhodes means the A's could probably use a cheap left-handed reliever, a spot they could fill from the minors with Sacramento's Ron Flores, to complement primary lefty setup reliever Ricardo Rincon.

Trading Rhodes erases one of the few mistakes Beane has made since becoming the GM. Beane tried to retain closer Keith Foulke but couldn't match Boston's more lucrative offer last offseason. By the time Foulke made his decision, the other closer options (La Troy Hawkins and Tom Gordon) had already signed with other teams.

Beane decided to give a three-year contract to Rhodes, who had never been a full-time closer but was successful as a setup reliever for Seattle.

Rhodes was a dismal failure, though. He blew five of 14 save situations and consistently blamed his failures on umpires or teammates. Rhodes angered manager Ken Macha by failing to return from his uncle's funeral on the date he was expected in June, making him unavailable for a game the A's blew in the ninth inning.

Two days later, Rhodes criticized star pitchers Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder for their comments about the ineffective bullpen, resulting in a closed-door team meeting.

Within the same week, Octavio Dotel was acquired to become the new closer and Rhodes went on the disabled list with a back injury that lasted two months. Rarely trusted down the stretch, Rhodes finished the year with a 5.12 ERA and often was the last player to arrive before games and the first to leave.

The departure of Redman opens the door for highly touted prospect Joe Blanton, a first-round pick from the famed 2002 "Moneyball" draft, to join the starting rotation. Seth Etherton, recently signed from the Reds, should also get a look in spring training.

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