Ken Rosenthal reported Friday that the Yankees are among the organizations most interested in buying low on A’s reliever Blake Treinen, should Oakland attempt to move on from the righty.
Treinen was probably the best relief pitcher in the sport in 2018. In 2019, he was basically the opposite of that. His ERA went from 0.78 to 4.91, his FIP from 1.82 to 5.14, his ERA+ dropped from 531 to 88, he more than doubled his walks per nine innings (2.4 to 5.7) and lost over two strikeouts per nine (11.2 to 9.1).
So why would the A’s be interested in moving on from Blake Treinen? There are a couple of reasons. One, he obviously was just a bad pitcher in 2019. Two, he is estimated to receive $7.8M in arbitration for the 2020 season, which is expensive in Oakland A’s money for a guy who may be bad. Three, the non-tender deadline is Monday, so they can decide to not use the roster space on him now and cut ties with him without it costing money, or they can trade him in that time and get something in return.
There are reasons to believe he can bounce back. For one, his stuff remained the same. He had the same movement on his breaking pitches and the same velocities, generally. His command is what fell off. That’s not good, but you can teach command way better than you can teach stuff. It’ll be a fun challenge for new pitching coach Matt Blake, if Treinen were to end up in pinstripes.
In a vacuum, I would be in favor of bringing in Treinen and banking on his stuff without spending much on him in either salary or trade packages. We do not operate in a vacuum, though, so bringing him in does mean something. For starters, he takes up a roster spot. The Yankees would probably move one/a few of the fringe players that they just added to the 40-man roster to avoid the Rule 5 Draft in a Treinen trade (or another move) to solve this issue, but Treinen himself takes up a spot nonetheless. While $7.8M is chump change to the Yankees in actuality, it still is enough to potentially price them out of, say, re-signing Dellin Betances or Didi Gregorius if the Yankees are indeed interested in reunions with either of them while also making other upgrades. I would imagine from both a money and a salary standpoint, trading for Treinen would remove them from the Betances sweepstakes. Both Dellin and Treinen have had issues with control, but Betances is technically older and coming off some tough injuries in 2019, so I imagine they don’t love the idea of both guys in the pen.
So yeah, I would theoretically love taking a chance on Treinen. I think if he is non-tendered and can be brought in for even cheaper and without giving up any prospects, that’d be even more worthwhile. It probably isn’t worth it, in my opinion, to give up even low-level prospects and potentially sit out on Dellin Betances in free agency. In my opinion, the Yankees should get both of them, re-sign Didi Gregorius, and sign Gerrit Cole (and Stephen Strasburg) because that would be fun and help the Yankees to be good at baseball in 2020. That won’t all happen, but it would be fun.
There has been a decent amount of movement, relative to this point in the last couple of offseasons, so hopefully, we start seeing some MLB-level additions to the Yankees soon. Agree?