Oakland Athletics Need To Strengthen Their Bullpen


This season, the Oakland Athletics’ bullpen has struggle immensely. From blown leads to inconsistent performances, the relievers have been the weakest part of this ballclub. Thankfully, the A’s starting rotation has been solid and has recently been able to go deep into games. But, with the trade deadline fast approaching, Oakland should look to strengthen their bullpen if they want to have a serious chance of even making it to the postseason.

Realistically, closer Tyler Clippard is the only reliable reliever in the bullpen right now. Eric Scribner was consistent during the month and a half but has since become undependable. Switch-pitcher Pat Venditte and recent acquisition Edward Mujica did have some good outings but quickly landed on the disabled list. Mujica was activated this week while Venditte began playing catch and will be throwing from the mound in a few days.

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The Oakland Athletics may have some relievers who have just returned from the DL or will be returning soon that could provide some decent support for the team, but the A’s should really start looking elsewhere in order to strengthen their bullpen. For example, many forget the Clippard has not typically been a closer in his career. And, with Doolittle now predicted to be out for the majority of the season, it might make sense to swoop up a great closer before the trade deadline. That way Clippard can go back to being the eighth inning set-up man.

First, there is Philadelphia Phillies’ closer Jonathan Papelbon. It is pretty clear that the Phillies are going to try to trade Papelbon before July 31. However, Papelbon is has a $13 million dollar vesting option for 2016. It is unlikely that the A’s will want to spend that kind of money on a closer especially since Clippard has been doing an adequate job, but, boy, that would be an interesting trade.

Then there is Milwaukee Brewers’ closer Francisco Rodriguez, who comes with a much lower price tag. Rodriguez has a 1.04 ERA with 14 saves already this season. There are many teams interested in Rodriguez including the Toronto Blue Jays. Milwaukee is in need of some good young prospects to balance out their struggling veterans and the Athletics could definitely provide them with some quality rookies. The Brewers are expected to be sellers at the deadline, so perhaps that Oakland Athletics could swing a trade with them.

However, if the Athletics are not in post-season contention as the trade deadline approaches, it is probably more practical for this club to keep their payroll low and not acquire an expensive closer. If they could just get a few more reliable arms in the bullpen, that would be sufficient enough. Once the A’s bullpen is dependable again, Oakland will be much more successful.

There are probably a few different moves the Athletics could make before the trade deadline in order to strengthen their bullpen – such as acquiring some unknown but quality relief pitchers who will likely thrive in Oakland. Since there are a handful of A’s players that other teams are interested in, GM Billy Beane will have a lot of different options. But, knowing Beane, he will not make a trade unless he gets the exact deal he desires.

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