The A’s made an unusual trade on Saturday, acquiring closer Jeurys Familia from the Mets. A team that usually is sellers at the deadline, the 56-43 A’s decided to go all in and acquire the former all-star from the 40-56 Mets in exchange for RHP prospect Bobby Wahl, 3B prospect Will Toffey, and $1M in International Bonus Money. Familia didn’t make the all-star game this year, but he’s still having a tremendous and underrated season. He currently has a 2.88 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, and a 2.54 FIP. Let’s take a closer look at the trade for both sides.
For the A’s, this is an outstanding trade. Despite being 56-43, they are a young team that relies on controlled talent and couldn’t afford to trade any of their top prospects. However, they are just three games out of the AL Wildcard and have a 4.00 ERA this season. Now, their bullpen ranks #7 in the MLB with a 3.52 ERA, but it relies heavily on two pitchers: Lou Trevino (1.17 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 2.93 FIP) and Blake Treinen (1.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 1.93 FIP). They’ve already thrown 96 combined innings, and both are starting to wear down a little. Oakland can’t afford to see their top relievers burn out if they want to make the playoffs, making Familia a perfect fit. In acquiring Familia, they gave up a 26-year-old in Wahl and their #17 ranked prospect in Toffey. They’re very stingy with money, so it’s unlikely that they will be able to resign Familia, a free agent at the end of the year, this offseason. However, they didn’t give up anything crucial to acquire him, and at the very least will help make sure that the A’s top two young relievers don’t wear down. If they start to fall out of contention by the trade deadline, then they can flip him for more prospects than they gave up, since they got this deal done well before the trade deadline.
For the Mets, this is a colossal mistake that could come back to haunt them. In Familia, they had an extremely valuable trade chip that could’ve helped boost their weak farm system. Instead, they settled on two lower-tier prospects in order to completely get Familia’s contract off the books and to get International Bonus Money. If they would’ve waited a little longer, they could’ve probably gotten a better offer due to increased competition in trade suitors. Instead, they decided on the A’s very early in the bidding process for whatever reason as they must’ve really wanted the bonus money. However, getting at least one fringe top 100 prospect should’ve been the goal, which is extremely reasonable considering the high demand for quality relievers. Instead, they got a 26-year-old reliever with barely any MLB experience in Wahl and a prospect in Toffey who’s ceiling is most likely a role player. At the very least, the Mets should’ve targeted someone with a higher ceiling. It’s not even a guarantee they’re able to use the bonus money, so it makes no sense for them to make that a priority. Also, refusing to take on some of Familia’s contract to get a better prospect package is a very bad look for a team that plays in New York.
Let’s take a look at two trades for high-level relievers that were rentals that happened at the 2016 trade deadline. The first was the Pirates trading Melancon for reliever Felipe Vasquez. Vasquez has blossomed into a dominant reliever for the Pirates, and was already a proven capable reliever before being traded, unlike the situation with Bobby Wahl. The second trade was the Yankees trading Aroldis Chapman for four prospects, headlined by Gleyber Torres and Billy McKinney, both top 100 prospects at the time. Now, Chapman was dominant in 2016, but Familia this year is only one tier down. Therefore a package centered around a lower top 100 prospect (McKinney was a lower level top 100 prospect in 2016). As you can see, quality relievers tend to be extremely valuable even if they’re rentals, so the fact that the Mets got such a bad prospect package in return for Familia is inexcusable.
The A’s got a major steal in acquiring a quality reliever for Familia, while the Mets made a very bad mistake in getting only two lower-tier prospects in return for him. I’d give the A’s an “A+” in this trade, and I’d give the Mets an “F”. I see no way how this trade works out for the Mets, while there’s almost no chance this backfires for Oakland.