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Exploring the A’s potential relief pitching trade targets

There is no shortage of potential arms with which the A’s could bolster their bullpen.

Toronto Blue Jays v Detroit Tigers Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

Thus far, it has been a slow trade season across MLB. The Oakland Athletics have been one of the league’s most active teams, adding righty Homer Bailey and lefty Jake Diekman in separate deals. But by all indications, they are far from done.

Saturday’s acquisition of Diekman from the Kansas City Royals improved Oakland’s relief corps significantly. But there is still plenty of room in the bullpen for at least one more addition.

The late innings have been scary for the A’s this season, largely due to the struggles of righties Blake Treinen, Lou Trivino and Joakim Soria. The A’s appear set from the left side, with Diekman joining the incumbent Wei-Chung Wang and Ryan Buchter, and top prospect A.J. Puk appearing close to his MLB debut out of the ‘pen. If the A’s do grab another reliever, it seems pretty likely that it will be a high leverage right-hander.

Here are some potential targets and what it might cost to acquire them, with help from Baseball Trade Values. In no particular order:

Ken Giles, Daniel Hudson (TOR)

Acquired from the Houston Astros last summer in the controversial Roberto Osuna trade, 28-year-old Ken Giles has been phenomenal as the Blue Jays’ closer. The flamethrower currently boasts a 1.59 ERA (1.54 FIP) and will not hit free agency until after the 2020 season, making him one of the most coveted relief arms on the market. He missed time due to elbow soreness earlier this month, but he has looked solid in four appearances since his return, striking out five batters over four innings.

Potential offer: Ken Giles ($10.3M trade value) for OF Jameson Hannah ($7.4M) and RHP Daulton Jefferies ($3.1M)

Serving as Giles’s set-up man, Daniel Hudson has had a nice bounce-back year. The 32-year-old has a shiny 2.80 ERA, but his peripherals (4.31 FIP, 5.35 xFIP) suggest he might have rough days ahead. Still, there will be plenty of interest in the righty, as sometimes you have to just play the hot hand with relievers.

Potential offer: Daniel Hudson ($3.4M) for RHP Grant Holmes ($2.2M) and RHP Bryan Howard ($1.0M)

Archie Bradley, Greg Holland, Yoshihisa Hirano (ARI)

With Saturday’s news that the Diamondbacks are likely to sell at the deadline, 26-year-old righty Archie Bradley looks like an intriguing buy-low option. His 4.30 ERA is the worst he’s posted as a reliever, but he’s been much better as of late (8 IP, 0 R in July) and his 3.18 FIP suggests he might be getting back on track. When he’s at his best, Bradley is lights-out and is capable of throwing more than one inning at a time. He has two additional years of team control beyond 2019, so the A’s likely won’t be the only team interested.

Potential offer: Archie Bradley ($13.5M) for SS Jorge Mateo ($10.0M), RHP Paul Blackburn ($2.5M) and RHP Parker Dunshee ($1.2M)

Veteran Greg Holland has served as Arizona’s closer this season, but his recent struggles have left his role in question. His average fastball velocity is the lowest of his career at 91.7 MPH, but he has still managed more than a strikeout per inning thanks to increased usage of his slider. The 33-year-old rental would likely slot somewhere in the middle of Oakland’s bullpen depth chart.

Potential offer: Greg Holland (-$0.7M) and cash considerations ($0.5M) for RHP Norge Ruiz ($0.1M)

Crafty Japanese right-hander Yoshihisa Hirano is another interesting trade candidate. The 35-year-old is in the second and final year of the contract he signed out of Japan, but he will remain under team control in 2020 and enter his first year of arbitration in 2021. This makes Hirano a flexible addition, and if the veteran maintains his current success, he could remain in Oakland for a long time. He is similar to current A’s reliever Yusmeiro Petit in that he relies on movement rather than velocity, with Hirano featuring a nasty splitter.

Potential offer: Yoshihisa Hirano ($0.5M) for RHP Wyatt Marks ($0.5M)

Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta (SF)

The Giants’ recent surge has put them in a tricky spot, but if they decide to sell, veteran Sam Dyson will likely be on the move. Dyson is enjoying a rebound season at age 31, as the sinkerballer has posted a 2.52 ERA (2.72 FIP). He’s never missed many bats, but currently owns the highest strikeout rate of his career (24.4%). Dyson comes with an additional year of team control and should be highly sought-after.

Potential offer: Sam Dyson ($0.4M) for 2B Yerdel Vargas ($0.9M)

Given their success as of late, San Francisco isn’t likely to move young flamethrower Reyes Moronta. But if they do, the A’s should be very interested. His fastball sits in the high-90s and he owns a sparkling 2.58 ERA through his first two MLB seasons. He wouldn’t come cheap — Moronta is just 26, and is under team control through 2023.

Potential offer: Reyes Moronta ($13.0M) for OF Jameson Hannah ($7.4M) and INF Sheldon Neuse ($7.3M)

Edwin Diaz, Seth Lugo (NYM)

News broke on Saturday that the Mets are listening to offers for star closer Edwin Diaz; specifically, in a package with starter Zack Wheeler. Diaz was arguably the best reliever in baseball in 2018, but hasn’t been able to replicate that success. His walks, home runs and BABIP are up, while his strikeouts are down. It would be a serious gamble, but the 25-year-old is under team control through 2022 and if he can get back on track, he could be an absolute force. Unfortunately, his price will likely be well out of Oakland’s price range, especially if their “Big Three” of Puk, Jesus Luzardo, and Sean Murphy are considered untouchable.

Potential offer: Edwin Diaz ($46.9M) for 2B Franklin Barreto ($16.2M), OF Lazaro Armenteros ($15.8M), SS Jorge Mateo ($10.0M) and INF Sheldon Neuse ($7.3M)

Seth Lugo might be a more realistic target for the A’s. The 29-year-old has been fantastic since his move to the bullpen in 2018, and his ability to pitch multiple innings makes him incredibly valuable. He will enter his first year of arbitration in 2020 and hit free agency following the 2022 season. If the A’s are looking beyond the cheaper rentals and the Mets are willing to move him, Lugo would be a perfect fit.

Potential offer: Seth Lugo ($13.8M) for OF Jameson Hannah ($7.4M), RHP Daulton Jefferies ($3.1M) and 2B Jeremy Eierman ($3.1M)

Jose Leclerc, Chris Martin (TEX)

The Rangers were once in the thick of the AL Wild Card race, but have since fallen back to Earth and will likely be sellers. Former closer Jose Leclerc struggled to start the year, but has rebounded quite nicely and could be a deadline steal. The 25-year-old has always had nasty stuff, but over the past two seasons he has reigned in his control enough to find success. He is signed to an incredibly affordable contract that will keep him from free agency until 2025 (if both team options are exercised).

Potential offer: Jose Leclerc ($21.8M) for OF Austin Beck ($11.7M), INF Sheldon Neuse ($7.3M) and RHP Grant Holmes ($2.3M)

If the A’s are aiming cheaper, Chris Martin could be a sneaky add. The 33-year-old has an insane 10.75 K/BB rate (26.5% K-BB%) and has tallied 33 strikeouts against just one walk over his last 26.2 innings pitched. He’ll be a free agent after this season and has never before enjoyed this kind of success, but he might just be the lightning-in-a-bottle addition the A’s relief corps needs.

Potential offer: Chris Martin ($0.7M) for RHP Brian Howard ($1.0M)

Mychal Givens (BAL)

The Orioles are bad, and they’re going to be bad for at least a few more years. That explains why they’d move a controllable arm like Mychal Givens. The 29-year-old hasn’t pitched to his usual standards, but he has still been great against right-handed hitters (.196 BAA, .298 wOBA). Givens will be a free agent after the 2021 season and will likely be one of the cheapest arms with multiple years of team control remaining.

Potential offer: Mychal Givens ($3.0M) for 2B Jeremy Eierman ($3.1M)

Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen (SD)

The Padres have reportedly set a high price on closer Kirby Yates, and for good reason. The 32-year-old leads all relievers in baseball in fWAR thanks to his near-perfect 1.02 ERA (1.06 FIP, 2.10 xFIP). He will be the most coveted arm on the market and won’t come cheap, if San Diego even chooses to move him. They could instead hang onto Yates and continue to build around him. He is under team control through 2020.

Potential offer: Kirby Yates ($18.0M) for OF Lazaro Armenteros ($15.8M) and RHP James Kaprielian ($2.9M)

San Diego could also shop Yates’s set-up man, veteran Craig Stammen. The 35-year-old isn’t missing as many bats as he has in the past, but he is throwing his fastball harder than he ever has before and has great control. He might not be the dominant back-end arm that Yates has been, but the rental is a perfectly serviceable option for the middle innings.

Potential offer: Craig Stammen ($3.9M) for OF Skye Bolt ($2.7M) and RHP Miguel Romero ($0.5M)

Raisel Iglesias (CIN)

Veteran Raisel Iglesias could have been one of the top relievers available this summer, but his struggles this season have turned him into a buy-low candidate. He posted a pristine 2.47 ERA from 2016-18, but that number has jumped more than two full runs this season. His contract pays him roughly $21 million through 2021 and would be a bargain at his pre-2019 levels of production, but makes him a risk given his poor performance this year.

Potential offer: Raisel Iglesias (-$1.3M) and cash considerations ($5.0M) for RHP Daulton Jefferies ($3.1M) and RHP Ryan Dull ($0.3M)

Scott Oberg (COL)

Colorado’s season has not gone as planned. After snagging an NL Wild Card spot in 2018, they have fallen to last place in the NL West and 6.5 games back of the second Wild Card spot. If they choose to move relief ace Scott Oberg, contenders will certainly be lined up to make their best offer. The 29-year-old is enjoying a career year, posting a 1.62 ERA (despite playing half of his games in hitter-friendly Coors Field) and leading all relievers in bWAR. He’ll be a free agent after the 2021 season, and perhaps a move out of Colorado could help him reach another level.

Potential offer: Scott Oberg ($17.6M) for SS Jorge Mateo ($10.0M) and OF Dustin Fowler ($8.3M)

Ian Kennedy (KC)

It doesn’t seem likely the A’s will return to the well a third time and make yet another deal with the Royals, but if they do, they could snag surprising veteran Ian Kennedy. The 34-year-old signed a five-year, $70 million contract with Kansas City in 2016 but did not pitch well out of the rotation during his first three seasons with the team. He has been excellent since his move to the bullpen this year, posting a 3.40 ERA (2.16 FIP). Kennedy is owed nearly $25M through 2020, meaning the Royals would have to eat a significant portion of his contract to move him (although they are reportedly hesitant to do so).

Potential offer: Ian Kennedy (-$18.4M) and cash considerations ($20.0M) for RHP James Kaprielian ($2.9M)

Shane Greene, Buck Farmer (DET)

After adding Diekman, the A’s were linked to Tigers righty Shane Greene by a report from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 30-year-old has been coveted by teams this summer due to his 1.22 ERA and extra year of team control. However, his .180 BABIP, 3.73 FIP and 3.78 xFIP suggest some significant luck may be involved in his current run. The Tigers might value him as a true star closer, while Oakland may see him as a set-up man at best, which could make an agreement difficult.

Potential offer: Shane Greene ($9.6M) for SS Jorge Mateo ($10.0M)

One name receiving quite a bit of buzz as of late is Buck Farmer. He is in the middle of the best season of his career, posting a 3.67 ERA (3.34 FIP) and well over a strikeout per inning. The 28-year-old’s fastball is sitting in the mid-nineties, and with three additional years of control remaining, Farmer is an intriguing option.

Potential offer: Buck Farmer (-$0.2M) for 2B Yerdel Vargas ($0.9M)

Alex Colome (CWS)

His reputation as a “proven closer” might make veteran Alex Colome an attractive late-inning option for the A’s. However, he is striking out just 20.8% of batters faced, his lowest mark since moving to the bullpen full-time in 2016. Strikeouts are more important than ever in today’s game, and Oakland might prefer an arm that can miss more bats.

Potential offer: Alex Colome ($6.5M) for SS Nick Allen ($5.8M) and OF Tyler Ramiers ($0.6M)

The A’s are likely to add at least one right-handed reliever, and these are 20 of the names most likely to be moved in the next four days. There is no shortage of options, and Oakland’s decision will likely come down to wherever they believe they can get the best deal.

Personally, I’d like to see the A’s add either Seth Lugo or Archie Bradley if they’re willing to pay more for controllable arms, or Chris Martin or Daniel Hudson if they’re more interested in cheaper rentals. But with the plethora of quality arms on the market, I’m confident the club will be able to make a considerable upgrade in the coming days.