(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)
Mark Canha is coming off the best season of his career.
The 29-year-old slashed .249/.328/.449 with a career-high 17 home runs and 52 RBI. Canha also set or matched career-highs in doubles, walks, OPS, OPS+, and WAR.
The San Jose native feasted on left-handed pitching, slashing .282/.337/.604 with 13 homers in 149 at-bats. The 13 round-trippers off southpaws were tied for second in the American League.
Canha earned $547,500 in 2018 and is projected to get a healthy raise to $2.1 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Why he might be a bargain
Canha tears up left-handed pitching and could be a solid starting option in left field against southpaws. His versatility is valuable as well, as he can play any outfield position, not to mention first base. He can also provide a nice power option off the bench.
Canha has become a very popular player in the A's clubhouse and his excitement for hitting home runs is contagious. His "Bat Flippin' Season" t-shirts are a huge hit among players and fans alike, and his personality represents the A's well. Canha's departure would represent a significant loss both on the field and in the clubhouse.
Why he might be too pricey
The A's already have a crowded outfield and Canha is probably only a platoon player in the outfield. Stephen Piscotty and Ramon Laureano have basically locked up everyday roles in right and center, so Canha would likely only start in left field against left-handed pitchers. The A's might decide that $2.1 million is too much for that type of role, especially since they also have younger outfield options in Chad Pinder and Dustin Fowler. While Canha can also play first base, Matt Olson is extremely durable, having played in all 162 games this past season.
We're leaning toward Canha returning to Oakland for another season. Between his power hitting ability and clubhouse personality, he provides plenty of value to the team. Canha's versatility might be his best trait, as he can fill in at any outfield position as well as first base, and you can never have too much depth. For just over $2 million, Canha is a solid bet to remain in green and gold in 2019.