(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's free agents to determine which players are most likely to return in 2019.)
Matt Joyce's 2018 campaign was plagued by a back injury that lingered through most of the year. The A's outfielder appeared in 83 games, starting only 46 of them, and slashed .208/.322/.353 with seven home runs and 15 RBI. That followed a pretty productive 2017 season that saw Joyce launch a career-high 25 homers, while slashing .243/.335/.473.
Joyce, 34, battled a lumbar strain that landed him on the disabled list twice this past season. He returned for the stretch run, but served only as a pinch-hitter. He earned $6 million in the final season of his two-year, $11 million deal with Oakland.
Why the A's should re-sign him
Oakland has a crowded outfield, but Joyce could provide depth and a nice power option off the bench. He likely won't draw much, if any, interest from other teams around the league, so he should be affordable. Joyce is also a former All-Star from his time in Tampa Bay.
Why the A's should let him go
Joyce's age and health are major concerns. Back injuries are difficult to overcome, especially at the age of 34. The A's have plenty of younger options in the outfield with the emergence of Ramon Laureano and Nick Martini. Add in Stephen Piscotty, Mark Canha, and Chad Pinder, and there really isn't any room for Joyce.
It would be pretty stunning to see Joyce back in an A's uniform. While he handled his loss of playing time like a true professional, that appears to be a permanent issue in Oakland's outfield, even if he is fully healthy. Joyce still might be able to help some team in need of a left-handed power hitter, but his time with the A's appears to be done.