Any time the Oakland Athletics trade away a veteran for minor league talent, the baseball world considers it to be a Moneyball move. And this trade is a prime example of what Billy Beane wishes to do with the Athletics. Yet this trade sets up the front office to unload major league players for those working their way up the pipeline in the future as well.
Sean Doolittle has been a fan favorite since he was called up to the major league roster, and has been commanding the A’s bullpen since 2012. He was a positive clubhouse presence, was a dominating pitcher and was a constant presence in A’s commercials.
His bullpen success continued into this season. He has a 3.38 ERA with a whopping 15.50 SO/W ratio, and 13.1 K/9 innings. If there was a bright spot this year, one could easily look to Doolittle, who shone right next to All-Star Yonder Alonso. The fact that he was under team control until 2020 made Doolittle look like a veteran presence during a full fledged youth movement.
Ryan Madson was having one of his best seasons as a pro. He has his lowest career ERA (2.06) and SO/W ratio (6.50) this season in Oakland. When he came into the game this year, A’s fans could feel confident that the opposition wouldn’t be putting up a plethora of runs onto the scoreboard. He was making a little over $7.6 million this season and next, but he was well worth the moeny he was making.
The other major league player in the trade was Blake Treinen. He was actually drafted by the Athletics in the 2011 amateur draft. He was traded to Washington, which brought John Jaso to Oakland. This year, Treinen has been a flop for the struggling Nationals bullpen. He is 0-2 with a 5.73 ERA, and was relieved of his duties as closer early in the season.
On the bright side, he has been touted to have major potential, despite being incionsistent, and owns a sinker that has gotten eerily close to 100mph. He becomes arbitration eligable in 2018, so the Athletics have a few years left of his talents to utilize.
Moneyball in the Future
The trade with Washington brought over prospects Sheldon Neuse and Jesus Luzardo, the 6th and 10th best prospects in the Nationals’ farm system, respectively.
Luzardo was drafted last year in the 3rd round by the Nats, but was considered a potential first rounder until he underwent Tommy John surgery. The right-handed pitcher last played in the Gulf Coast League, and is expected to arrive in the majors in 2020.
The focus of this article, however, will be on third baseman Sheldon Neuse. MLB Pipeline expects him to arrive in the major leagues in 2019. The Single-A player will have a hard time finding a spot in Oakland, however.
Chapman is currently hitting .205 this season, mainly due to a 3-3 game with two home runs on Saturday. Although he has just played in 13 games, his numbers do not show significant promise. He has the raw tools, but he has to carry over some momentum from Saturday in to the rst of the season to solidify a roster spot.
Moneyball in the Minors
The third base situation in the majors is already clogged. Those who don’t know the talent in Nashville might state that trading one of them, or if Chapman busts, provides an opportunity for Neuse to get a roster spot when the time comes. The challenge then becomes finding a spot for Triple-A All-Star Game MVP Renato Nunez.
Nunez currently leads every single minor league player in home runs, and has showed his potential at the highest minor league level. There already is no room for him in Oakland, so trading for another third base prospect make little sense. Nunez can also play right field, but that slot is occupied by slugger Khris Davis.
What option does this leave Oakland? Not many. The only logical path would be to unload one of them Moneyball style, a way of life A’s fans are tired of.
**Update** MLB Pipeline ranks Neuse and Luzardo are the 11th and 15th ranked prospects in the A’s system, respectively.