While they’re surely looking for ways to improve their roster after a second consecutive 97-win season, the Oakland Athletics have some financial matters to take care of. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, the A’s are shopping reliever Blake Treinen, infielder Jurickson Profar, and catcher Josh Phegley, who are all free agents after the 2020 Major League Baseball season.
Here are potential landing spots for said players.
Blake Treinen: Los Angeles Dodgers
Some would argue the Dodgers’ 2019 postseason demise stemmed from not having a shutdown backend reliever. They didn’t make a move for one before the MLB trade deadline, and they can’t afford to not upgrade their bullpen this offseason; Treinen is the perfect risk for L.A.
Sure, he’s coming off a troublesome season, low-lighted by inconsistencies and a career-worse 4.91 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 37 walks. On the other hand, the right-hander’s a year removed from a remarkable season. In 2018 Treinen recorded a 0.78 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, and 100 strikeouts.
Treinen commands a high-90s fastball and catches hitters off-guard with a deceptive cutter. Had he hit the open market last winter, we’d be debating whether he could be the highest-paid reliever in baseball. The talent is there with Treinen.
A backend duo of Treinen and Kenley Jansen would be a killer two-man game, providing manager Dave Roberts with more comfortability in the late innings and closing the biggest hole on their roster from last season. Dominant backend relievers don’t grow off trees anymore; they’ve become scarce. A change of scenery could serve Treinen well with his Oakland days appearing to be numbered.
Jurickson Profar: Cleveland Indians
With Jason Kipnis testing free agency and questions mounting about the direction of the franchise, the Indians should be looking to take some chances; acquiring Profar fits the bill.
The former top prospect has continued to be an enigma. One year he shows promise, the next year he endures a regression. With that said, like Treinen, Profar is a year removed from a noteworthy season. In his final year with the Texas Rangers (2018), Profar hit .254 while totaling 20 home runs and 77 RBIs and struck out just 88 times across 146 games.
The second baseman also brings versatility to the table. Since 2016, he has played first, second, and third base on an extended basis and embarked on stints at shortstop and left field. Meanwhile, while his batting average and OPS dipped in 2019, Profar blasted 20 home runs for a second consecutive season.
He has pop in his bat, plays well at multiple positions, has been more productive in recent memory, and is still just 26. Perhaps the Indians acquire Profar, bat him in the middle of their order, have him play second base, and he comes into his own, resulting in them keeping him past 2020? It’s a risk worth taking.
Josh Phegley: Milwaukee Brewers
With Yasmani Grandal inking a $73 million deal with the Chicago White Sox, the Brewers need a catcher. Keeping in mind that they’re a competitive fixture in the National League, the Brewers are going to think big. One could argue that Phegley is now the best catching option available on both the trade and free agent market.
Last season the right-handed hitting Phegley found some success at the plate. Totaling 12 home runs and 62 RBIs, he served as an efficient source of offense in a lively A’s lineup and was one of the better hitting catchers in MLB. Sure, he was in the bottom three percent in the sport in exit velocity (83.7 mph) and recorded a yawning .693 OPS, but the power production is encouraging for his first full season as a starting catcher.
Phegley has caught seven seasons in the big leagues, and having a catcher who’s adept at managing a young pitching staff, which the White Sox and A’s (the two teams he has spent time with) had, or one with a lot of recurring arms, like the Brewers, is pivotal. Meanwhile, his right-handed power bat would help fill the void created by Grandal’s departure.
Yes, it would essentially be another one-year deal at catcher, but the Brewers need to make moves to get in the mix with the Dodgers, World Series-champion Washington Nationals, Atlanta Braves, and other NL contenders. You can’t have a reliable pitching staff without a steady backstop. Phegley is steady behind the plate and in the batter’s box.