In projected payroll slash, Oakland A’s let relievers Andrew Chafin and Jake Diekman walk

With payroll to be reduced and manager Bob Melvin moving to San Diego, the Oakland A’s roster is expected to look a lot different in the 2022 season. The shift was set in motion on Thursday with two key players hitting free agency.

The A’s exercised their 2022 mutual option on left-handed pitcher Andrew Chafin’s contract, worth $2.7 million, and declined the club option on left-handed reliever Jake Diekman’s contract, worth $4 million. Chafin declined his part of the mutual option and both players join a list of a league-leading 13 free agents out of Oakland.

Why let bullpen arms of Chafin and Diekman’s caliber walk? To save a chunk of cash. With a $750,000 buyout on Diekman’s contract, the A’s will net $3.75 million to watch Diekman walk. The A’s most likely picked up their half of Chafin’s mutual option anticipating he would decline. As one of the top left-handed relievers on the market, Chafin, 31, is sure to net a more lucrative multi-year deal on the open market.

The A’s acquired Chafin at the 2021 trade deadline from the dismantled Chicago Cubs in exchange for minor league outfield prospect Greg Deichmann. Chafin was one of the A’s more reliable relievers in their failed attempt at a postseason berth, posting a 1.53 ERA, 27 strikeouts, seven walks and five saves with two blown saves over 29 1/3 innings in 28 appearances.

Diekman, a hard-throwing lefty with a mind-bending slider, came to the A’s at the 2019 trade deadline from the Kansas City Royals and re-signed with the A’s for a two-year, $7.5 million deal that offseason. Diekman put together a 3.25 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings during his time with the A’s, including a 2020 campaign in which he allowed one earned run over 21 1/3 innings (0.42 ERA).

Chafin and Diekman grow the A’s list of free agents to 13 names, which leads all of baseball heading into the offseason. That list also includes outfielder Mark Canha, closer Trevor Rosenthal, infielder Jed Lowrie, DH Mitch Moreland, starter Mike Fiers and relievers Yusmeiro Petit and Sergio Romo.

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