The Oakland Athletics recently non-tendered reliever Blake Treinen, long thought to be a potential target for the Yankees. And he absolutely should be. Treinen has had a bit of an up-and-down career in Oakland and Washington, but he was absolutely dominant 2017 and 2018 before experiencing some serious regression last season. Here’s a quick career snapshot:
If you knew nothing about Treinen’s 2019 season, it’s still easy to see that command played a significant issue for him. His WHIP nearly doubled, his BB9 more than doubled, and his SO/W ratio took a significant hit. He also saw a serious jump in his HR/9 rate, which is something you never like to see for a pitcher potentially heading to homerun friendly Yankee Stadium.
The most obvious reason for this regression is likely injuries. Treinen suffered through an injury-plagued 2019, first with a shoulder injury that many think affected his slider usage and then eventually with a stress reaction in his back that shut him down for the rest of the season. But don’t let that make you forget how absolutely dominant Treinen was in 2018. Don’t remember? Here’s a quick highlight reel for you:
But there’s a silver lining in his down year and injury-riddled season, and it’s that it will most certainly affect a potential contract. With Treinen in line for an estimated $7.8 million according to MLBTR, the Athletics determined that he wasn’t worth the price tag. That probably means that he could be due for even less in free agency. If that’s the case, the Yankees would be wise to do their due diligence on him with the potential intent of having him join the bullpen.
Signing Treinen most likely spells the end of another reliever’s Yankee tenure who suffered an injury-riddled 2019: Dellin Betances. Rohan wrote a great piece on Betances yesterday and the truth is a Treinen signing most likely means Betances is the odd man out. What’s interesting is that the risks and rewards of signing one or the other are fairly similar. Both were dominant prior to their injuries, so the question becomes what is the market for each and who do the Yankees think will bounce back from injury better? I personally could see Betances getting a heftier contract, but that’s due to be seen.
However, if Treinen can be secured with a one-year deal a fairly cheap two-year deal, it’s an absolute no brainer. Even if he can’t return to the dominance of 2019, if it’s something closer to or even a little worse than his 2018, he’s absolutely worth the gamble. The Yankee bullpen is still extremely strong, with Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Zack Britton, Chad Green, and Tommy Kahnle all returning, among others. The Yankees have room to take a chance on a high risk, high reward arm. Arguably Betances is a similar option, but again, he might cost more money.
At the end of the day, this will all come down to what the market values both pitchers at, but the non-tender of Treinen certainly helps the Yankees. A number of teams will be in on both, including rival AL East teams like the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays. That makes it all the more important that the Yankees stay strongly involved.