Who is the real Blake Treinen? The un-hittable All-Star closer with a .78 ERA and deadly 100 mph sinker? Or the oft-injured reliever who lost his command and slid into a 4.91 ERA?
The Oakland A’s didn’t care to spend $8 million to find out. They non-tendered Treinen, along with catcher Josh Phegley and left-handed reliever Ryan Buchter. Earlier Monday, the A’s traded second baseman Jurickson Profar — who was arbitration eligible — to the San Diego Padres for catcher Austin Allen. The move not only relieved the A’s of a potential $6 million commitment to the infielder, but secured a potentially decent back-up catcher for Sean Murphy.
The A’s tendered contracts to right-handed pitcher Chris Bassitt, outfielder and first baseman Mark Canha, outfielder Robbie Grossman, right-handed reliever-turned-closer Liam Hendriks, left-handed starter Sean Manaea, infielder/outfielder Chad Pinder and shortstop Marcus Semien. The A’s also agreed to a one-year contract with left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland, claimed off waivers from Arizona on November 4.
Blake Treinen’s ERA went up by 4.13 from 2018 to 2019 (0.78 to 4.91).
That was the largest ERA increase among RP with at least 55 app in each season.
2nd-highest such increase: Edwin Díaz +3.63 (1.96 to 5.59)
— Sarah Langs (@SlangsOnSports) December 3, 2019
Treinen’s non-tender wasn’t a surprise, though it might’ve been after 2018. He won his arbitration hearing prior to the 2019 season, landing a $6.4 million contract. He was projected to earn $8 million in 2020. With an expected $1.5 million raise, and sharp decline season over season, the 31-year-old right hander may have been seen as an expensive risk.
The 2019 iteration of Treinen had a fastball velocity within the 87th percentile, per Statcast, but lost command of his once-mystical sinker and slipped into an uncharacteristically hittable funk. His league-best 2.1 barrel percentage plummeted to a career-worst 7.7 percent. His 6.7 walk rate jumped to 13.9, in the league’s bottom fourth percentile.
Granted, Treinen struggled through injuries all year. He landed on the injured list mid-June with a shoulder injury. Then ended his season in September with a stress reaction in his back that he said he’d been dealing with for a few weeks.
The A’s saw risk outshine potential reward. Treinen is now a free agent, and the 29 other teams can clamor for that potential reward — he could come at a bargain, and a devastating arsenal still lives in that arm. Perhaps a team will gamble on a happy medium between the two extremes, at least.
The A’s can still technically sign Treinen, though that seems unlikely. The once elite closer could come at a bargain for a team willing to spend on a slight risk. Treinen finished his A’s career with 67 saves, 201 strikeouts and a 2.44 ERA.
Not to be lost in the noise is Semien’s tendered contract. The MVP finalist, in the final year of arbitration before free agency, is almost certain to be an Oakland Athletic in 2020. And an extension is still on the table up until the two sides must agree on an arbitration contract by the deadline in mid-January.
Phegley’s non-tender was a logical move after the Profar trade for Allen — the catching depth is stable with Jonah Heim in the organization. Though, with Murphy’s past injuries, don’t count out a veteran addition to that list in the offseason.
Phegley had a hot start with the A’s in 2019. Through May, he was slashing .282/.326/.519 faltered as the season progressed. He finished the 2019 season with a .239 average and 12 home runs. In five seasons with the A’s, Phegley slashed .233/.282/.397 with 27 home runs.
Buchter was projected to earn $1.8 million in arbitration, a little steep for a left-handed pitcher who mostly took the hill for garbage innings. No salary has been settled for LHP McFarland, but he may come at a cheaper price and is a ground ball machine.
Those tendered contracts will have until a deadline in mid-January to agree on a salary. Here is a breakdown of the projections.
The A’s have 37 players on their 40-man roster.