The Athletics swung a notable trade this past weekend, sending right-hander Jharel Cotton to the Cubs. But that may not be the last near-term trade the A’s make, as Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (subscription link) reports the team’s “discussing” moves involving reliever Blake Treinen, infielder/outfielder Jurickson Profar and catcher Josh Phegley. Barring trades, they could all be non-tender candidates for low-budget Oakland, which is projected to owe Treinen $7.8MM, Profar $5.8MM and Phegley $2.2MM in 2020.
Whether there’s an appealing piece here is up for debate, but Treinen’s just a year removed from enjoying one of the best seasons in the history of relievers. Treinen posted an eye-popping 0.78 ERA across 80 1/3 innings in 2018, but just about everything went backward for him in 2019. While the 31-year-old continued to throw in the 97 to 98 mph range, his strikeout rate fell from 11.2 per nine to 9.05, his walk rate skyrocketed from 2.35 to 5.68, his groundball percentage dropped from 51.9 to 42.8, and his home run-to-fly ball percentage shot from 4.4 to 16.4. All of that helped lead to a 4.91 ERA/5.14 FIP during an injury-shortened, 58 2/3-inning effort for Treinen, who lost his closer role to Liam Hendriks and whose days with the A’s are likely over as he approaches his final season of arbitration control.
The switch-hitting Profar, 26, was supposed to solidify second base in 2019 for Oakland, which acquired him from division-rival Texas in a high-profile trade last winter. Instead, though, Profar batted a mere .218/.301/.410 in 518 plate appearances. Even though Profar did slug 20 home runs, this past season still went down as yet another disappointing campaign for a player who was once an elite prospect.
Phegley, 31, recorded yet another underwhelming offensive season in 2019, as he hit just .239/.282/.411 with 12 homers in 342 trips to the plate. The right-handed Phegley did, however, slash a strong .284/.320/.526 in 103 PA versus lefties, continuing a career-long run of managing respectable production against southpaws. Defensively, Phegley was a mixed bag, as he threw out 32 percent of would-be base-stealers (league average was 27 percent) but finished dead last in the majors in Baseball Prospectus’ Fielding Runs Above Average metric.
In the cases of Treinen and Phegley, the Athletics are well-equipped to move on even if it means non-tendering the two. The team has Hendriks, Yusmeiro Petit, Joakim Soria and Ryan Buchter among its top late-game possibilities in the bullpen. It also boasts highly promising youngster Sean Murphy as its No. 1 choice behind the plate. But there’s less certainty at second, where Chad Pinder, Sheldon Neuse, Franklin Barreto and prospect Jorge Mateo comprise a largely unproven group of options. Of course, should the A’s part with Profar, they could sign one of the many veteran second basemen on the open market to take his place.