The non-tender deadline was on Monday and it resulted in a bunch of new intriguing free agents. Among this group was relief pitcher Blake Treinen who the Oakland A’s decided not to bring back for roughly $7.5 million in 2020. The interest in him was immediately heavy, but should it be?
If you were like me when you saw Blake Treinen was non-tendered, you probably thought back to his 2018 season when he finished sixth in Cy Young voting and 15th for MVP. He was the most dominant reliever in baseball and it looked like the Athletics had a star for years to come.
During that dominant 2018 season Treinen had a 0.78 ERA (19 ERA-), 1.82 FIP (44 FIP-), 31.8 K/%, 6.7 BB%, 0.83 WHIP, 3.6 fWAR, and .187 wOBA against. This year was a complete outlier with every year since his 2014 debut finishing with a FIP above 3.00 or higher. He had always been a solid reliever, but some regression was expected after his 2018 season.
The regression hit him hard and he had his worst season in the majors in 2019. He pitched 58 2/3 total innings and produced a 4.91 ERA (110 ERA-), 5.14 FIP (115 FIP-), 22.2 K%, 13.9 BB%, 1.62 WHIP, -0.3 fWAR, and .336 wOBA against. So basically if you take the middle ground of his last two seasons you get nearly his exact career average in ERA, FIP, and WHIP.
This tweet alone from the creator of BaseballSavant shows the extreme difference a year made for Treinen.
He is now a free agent after being non-tendered by Oakland while being just a year away from one of the greatest seasons for a reliever ever. The 2018 version is not the one that will be signed, but I also don’t think the 2019 version is who you will be getting. Whoever signs him will likely get the guy in the middle of both of those seasons. Steamer projections have him at a 3.86 ERA, 4.00 FIP, and 1.33 WHIP.
Oakland let him go for a reason. Maybe that reason is they just hate spending money, but they probably realize they are not getting the guy from 2018 because relievers are weird. He was due for $7.5 million which would have been the fourth-highest salary on their team.
The immediate reaction from Twins fans suggested a lot of people would love to sign him on what I estimate will be a two-year deal for around $15 million. It could be a good idea with a solid back half of the bullpen with Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey and Trevor May. They wouldn't be relying on Treinen to be the lights out closer, but the upside is there and if he flops it doesn't destroy the bullpen.
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