Posted on July 21, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Oakland Athletics have made a bold move to improve their chances of making the postseason. On Saturday, the club completed a trade with the New York Mets for closer Jeurys Familia. In exchange, the Mets will receive pitcher Bobby Wahl, third base prospect William Toffey, and international bonus pool money.
Right now, the A’s appear to be on the fringe of the playoff picture in the American League. Despite being 12 games over .500, they began Saturday nine games behind the Astros in the AL West. Barring an epic collapse by Houston, the A’s only chance of reaching the postseason would be as a wild card. Of course, they would likely be matched up with either the Red Sox or Yankees in the Wild Card Game. Before that can happen, they also have to erase a four-game deficit to the Mariners in the wild-card standings. Nevertheless, the A’s will push for their first playoff appearance since 2014.
In Familia, Oakland will add one of the top relievers available on the trade market this summer. The 28-year old has bounced back nicely after being hindered in 2017 by a blood clot that kept him out more than half the season. In 40 appearances this season, Familia is 4-4 with a 2.88 ERA. He has 17 saves in 21 opportunities. He did his best work during the 2015 and 2016 campaigns, both playoff seasons for the Mets. During that time, he accumulated 94 saves. He has looked more like that pitcher lately, tossing seven shutout innings thus far in July.
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Oakland’s bullpen currently has the fifth-lowest ERA in the American League. Familia figures to make them even better. Blake Treinen has excelled in the closer’s role, posting a 0.94 ERA this year. Lou Trivino has been nearly as good, going 7-1 with a 1.22 ERA. Lefty Ryan Buchter has also come on strong after returning from a shoulder injury. Adding Familia to that trio will make the A’s tough late in games.
Meanwhile, the Mets begin another summer fire sale. With New York 15 games under .500 and Familia set to be a free agent after the season, there was no sense holding onto him. Instead, the Mets will get two prospects and $1 million in international bonus pool money to help them rebuild.
Wahl may be able to help the Mets sooner rather than later. He made seven appearances out of Oakland’s bullpen last season. He’s now having an excellent season at triple-A, posting a 2.27 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 39.2 innings. The Mets will likely call him up before the end of the season.
Toffey, meanwhile, is a couple of years away. He slots in as New York’s 20th best prospect, according to MLB.com. He is yet to fully tap into his power, which he’ll need to do as a corner infielder. However, he’s regarded as a quality defensive player at the hot corner. In advanced-A this season, Toffey is hitting .244 with an OPS of .741 but he will be promoted to double-A following the trade.
Of course, this trade is all about the A’s trying to get to the postseason. They face an uphill battle if they want to make any noise in October. But the addition of Familia has a chance to help their bullpen go from good to great. If nothing else, it sends the message that Oakland is going for it in 2018, and so more moves could be on the way.