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A’s trade A.J. Puk to Marlins

Outfielder JJ Bleday coming back in return

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

The A’s have made a late-off-season trade, sending pitcher AJ Puk to the Miami Marlins for outfielder JJ Bleday.

The trade represents a swap of two former top-10 draft picks. Puk was taken by the A’s 6th overall in the 2016 draft while Bleday was taken 4th in 2019. Both have since seen their stars dim a bit but both have at least reached the majors.

So ends the Puk era in Oakland. Once considered one of the top prospects in the game, injuries hampered his way up to the majors and that inability to stay on the mound prompted the A’s to give up on him as a starter. The move to the bullpen worked in keeping him healthy, as Puk finally had a healthy season and made his way into 62 games this past season. The Marlins are getting a solid lefty who dominates same-handed hitters and could possibly take it up another level if he stays healthy. A big if with him, though.

In Bleday, the A’s are getting back a high upside young outfielder who was very recently a top-50 prospect in the game for a reliever who probably wasn’t going to be around for the next playoff A’s team. Bleday only has three seasons in the minor leagues but rocketed up through them and had his best season in Triple-A last year before pushing his way up to Miami’s major league roster. Things didn’t go smoothly in his first cup of coffee for the Marlins as he hit .167/.277/.309 with 5 home runs in 65 games, but he’ll only be 25 going into the 2023 season, and the A’s need young position players with big upside. They’re getting that in Bleday.

Overall it’s a solid trade for both teams. Miami reinforced a bullpen that needed it in a big way with Puk, who they will control for four seasons.

Meanwhile, while the A’s flip a reliever for a young outfielder with promise who was the Marlins’ #2 prospect two seasons ago and is just about ready for the majors. He played center field a bunch for Miami but his future has generally been considered in one of the corner spots and he should be solid there. He could compete for a spot on the roster come Spring Training, but he has all three minor-league options remaining and the A’s should be in no rush with him and can let him continue to develop in Triple-A to start the season (and delay his service clock). If he thrives down there, he could be a potential replacement for Ramon Laureano in right field should he get traded at some point this season, which has been widely expected.

Au revoir, AJ. And welcome to Oakland, JJ!