Could the Daric Barton Era Be Over for the Oakland A’s?

Tomorrow night at 8:59 p.m. PST is Major League Baseball’s non-tender deadline. That’s the last opportunity teams will have to tender contracts to players that are eligible for arbitration.

For the Oakland A’s, that means it’s once again decision time regarding Daric Barton, a player that has managed to be in the organization since being acquired in the trade that sent pitcher Dan Haren to the St. Louis Cardinals in 2004. Barton, 28, has had a frustrating tenure with the A’s, to be certain. Long-coveted by Oakland for his ability to get on base and play reliably solid first base defense, Barton has struggled enough over the past 2-3 years to warrant multiple trips to and from Triple-A Sacramento.

In 2008 and 2010, Barton received the most playing time of his big-league career (playing in 140 games in ’08, 159 in ’10 and leading the American League in walks that same year), but since then he’s had a hard time sticking around at the major-league level. In 37 games for the 2013 club, Barton hit .269/.350/.375 with three home runs and 16 RBIs, and even started Game 1 of the ALDS.

MLB.com’s Jane Lee points out that there may not be any room on the 2014 roster for Barton, who is projected to be awarded a $1.4M salary after the arbitration process. The 2013 logjam at first base – Brandon Moss and Nate Freiman – will again presumably block Barton from steady playing time with the A’s. The question may be, then, whether the organization deems his presence valuable enough to pay more than $1M for him to stick around in the minor leagues – though that seems like a stretch for the usually financially-conscious A’s.

Should he be non-tendered, there’s no doubt Barton would catch on with another organization due to his defense and ability to get on base.

Lee also notes that reliever Fernando Rodriguez, acquired in the Jed Lowrie trade prior to the 2013 season but shelved with Tommy John surgery in February, is likely to be retained by the team. Should he be healthy in time for spring training, Rodriguez could presumably earn a spot in Bob Melvin‘s 2014 bullpen.

Follow Adrian on Twitter (@adriangarro) for more news & notes!