Veteran A’s infielder tries not to think about contract clause that’s worth millions

OAKLAND – A’s shortstop Elvis Andrus said he tries not to worry about what he can’t control, and that includes a key clause in his eight-year, $120 million contract that ends this season.

According to the deal that went into effect before the 2015 season, a $15 million option for 2023 becomes guaranteed if Andrus reaches 550 plate appearances this season or 1,100 plate appearances in 2021 and 2022 combined.

Andrus had 541 plate appearances in 146 games last season, so he needs the 550 PAs this year for the option to take effect. He had 234 plate appearances in 64 games before Thursday when he started at shortstop for the A’s series finale with the Seattle Mariners at the Coliseum.

“I try not to,” think about it, Andrus said Thursday. “I would lie if I say no, but at the same time, I know if I’m if I doing my thing, and if I go out there and play like I was a week and a half ago, the at-bats are going to happen. So I try not to think about it.”

In his last 30 games prior to June 12, Andrus had been batting .290 (27-for-93). His 16 doubles for the season at that time was tied for fourth in the American League.

In eight games since, though, Andrus was just 2 for 28 with two walks. Both hits were singles.

Andrus, 33, had the day off Wednesday when the A’s lost 9-0 to the Mariners, as Nick Allen played shortstop and went 1-for-3 with a strikeout.

The A’s acquired Andrus from the Texas Rangers in a Feb. 2021 trade after Marcus Semien signed with the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rangers also sent $13.5 million to the A’s as part of the deal, covering close to half of the $14 million owed to Andrus in 2021 and 2022.

The $15 million that Andrus will be owed next season should he reach the 550 plate appearance threshold, though, will have to be paid entirely by the A’s, who slashed team payroll with several cost-cutting personnel moves before the start of the season.

“At this point in my career, I just want to be able to kind of go back and do what I’m used to doing offensively, which is hit the ball all over the place and being on base a lot,” Andrus said. “So that’s what I’m working on.

“If (the 550 plate appearances) happen, great. If it doesn’t, I’ve still got to go out there and play ball, whether it’s for Oakland or another team. But at this point for me it’s more about finding myself, and not only finding myself but being able to be consistent again.

“So just keep working. I mean, that’s all I can do. Keep working and make those adjustments and go out there and compete.”

PISCOTTY UPDATE: A’s manager Mark Kotsay said reports on Stephen Piscotty during his rehab assignment with Triple-A Las Vegas have been positive, but there remains no timeline for the outfielder to return to the A’s.

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Piscotty was the designated hitter in his first rehab game Tuesday and played right field on Wednesday against Albuquerque. He was a combined 2-for-8 with a walk and two strikeouts. Piscotty had the day off Thursday but will play again Friday, either at DH or right field.

It seems feasible that Piscotty will be able to rejoin the A’s sometime on their 10-game road trip that begins Friday with three games in Kansas City. After stops in New York and Seattle, the A’s return home July 4 against Toronto.

“We’re going to continue to communicate with Stephen,” Kotsay said. “It’s a veteran player that’s been through this process. So we’ll continue to communicate with him and determine the best opportunity to reinsert him with this club.”

BACK FROM COVID: The A’s on Thursday activated left-hander Sam Moll from the COVID-19 list and returned right-hander Domingo Tapia to Triple-A Las Vegas.

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