The Yankees want to spend big on pitching in free agency, but Brian Cashman could look to boost his bullpen with an under-the-radar trade.
The bullpen wasn’t an area of weakness for the New York Yankees last season, but that won’t stop general manager Brian Cashman from trying to improve it this winter. Swinging an under-the-radar deal with the Athletics for Blake Treinen could easily turn into a key move for the Bronx Bombers.
Before Yankees fans on social media explode, trading for Treinen would not materially change the team’s ability to go big game hunting in free agency. The 31-year-old right hander is set to make $7.8 million next season. Bringing him to New York might rule out the team’s potential reunion with Dellin Betances, but it’s not going to stop Cashman from making big offers to guys like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg in the coming weeks.
The key question Cashman and his front office need to ask about Treinen is whether or not the Athletics are going to be reasonable in terms of what it will take to acquire him in a trade. Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees are one of “several” teams interested in making a deal for Treinen, but there’s very little information out there about what Oakland will be willing to accept in exchange for his services.
The Yankees will need to evaluate whether or not they believe Treinen’s struggles in 2019 are a trend or aberration before they decide what they are willing to offer. His ERA jumped all the way from 0.78 in 2018 to an ugly mark of 4.91 last season. His likely output in 2020 almost certainly lies somewhere in between those two stat lines. That still gives the Yankees front office a massive range of potential outcomes to choose from.
It’s worth noting that the Athletics want to deal Treinen because of his potentially escalating salary rather than concerns about his performance on the mound. Per Rosenthal, they’re concerned about their payroll moving forward. Turning his expiring deal into multiple prospects would be a nice reset for Oakland this winter.
Ultimately, Yankees fans shouldn’t get too excited about the prospect of the team making a big offer for Treinen. Instead, this is a classic example of Cashman lurking in the shadows with the idea that he might be able to acquire a potential October difference maker for a cut-rate price. New York will only become Treinen’s new home if the Athletics are willing to accept a paltry offer to get his salary off of their books.