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Meet the Sellers: Oakland Athletics

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Brennan Delaney
6 months ago
It’s good to be playing a bad team again, isn’t it?
The Jays play the first of three games on Monday night against the Oakland Athletics. The team from the bay had a complete fire sale at the start of the season, trading Matt Olson, Matt Chapman and Sean Manaea, just to name a few.
This leaves them with an MLB worst 26-55 record. Not just that, but for a rebuilding team, the A’s have a pretty awful farm system, as they rank 22nd according to MLB Pipeline’s preseason ranking.
That begs the question, what players would they be willing to move come the August 2nd. Unlike the last edition of Meet the Sellers, I will be including a starting pitcher from here on out. 
Since Hyun-Jin Ryu’s season is over, and Yusei Kikuchi should be moved to the pen, I believe a starting pitcher is just as important as a reliever and even more important than a position player. Let’s start with the reliever.

A.J Puk:

The 27-year-old, 6’7 lefty has been the best A’s reliever this season and could help this team for many years to come.

Statistics:

This season, the lefty has posted a 2.73 ERA and 3.24 FIP in 33 innings pitched. Furthermore, he has a K/9 of 9.27 and a K% of 25%. When paired with his BB/9 of 1.91 and BB% of 5.1%, it is apparent that Puk is a strike thrower.
On top of a substantial K%, Puk gets a fair share of ground balls, as his ground ball percentage sits at 46.6% in 2022, while his career GB% sits at 48.4%.
He features two versions of a fastball, with his four seamer clocking in at an average of 96.5 mph, which he throws 37.3% of the time. The other version of the fastball is a sinker, which he throws 21.5% of the time at an average of 96.2 mph.
He also features a slider which he throws 40.9% of the time, which clocks in at an average of 86.6 mph. He also threw a changeup just twice, which had an average of 89 mph.
Unlike every single player we’ve covered so far, Puk is considered a prospect by Fangraphs, so let’s take a look at his grades. Present value is on the left, future value is on the right.
Fastball: 50/55
Slider: 60/60
Curveball: 50/55
Changeup: 50/55
Command 40/40
Overall: 40
Although he doesn’t throw a curveball, these grades are rather impressive. He’s a hard throwing lefty with a pretty nasty slider. Despite the 40 grade for command, his BB/9 of 1.91 tells a different story, as he has limited free passes in 2022.

Contract:

Out of any relievers that we’ve covered on Meet the Sellers, A.J Puk would more than likely be the most expensive. This is due to the fact that he is making only $705,000 this season and has an additional four years of team control.
However, based on his numbers and team control, I’d say he’s worth it, as he’s a projectable lefty who has the opportunity to add even more velo.

Positional Need:

There is absolutely a positional need for relievers. A.J Puk would immediately become the best lefty in the Blue Jays bullpen, but he would also give the team an additional high leverage reliever, which they desperately need.

Tony Kemp:

Moving to the position player, Tony Kemp was a player mentioned by fans when looking for a left-handed batting second baseman. Let’s see if he’d be worth it.

Statistics:

Unlike Puk, there is a possibility that Tony Kemp is traded for a very small package. This season, he’s slashing just .216/.2999/.276 with two homers in 287 plate appearances. That is a 74 wRC+ if you’re wondering. However, there are positives to his offensive game, such as his 14.3% K% and 8.7% BB%.
In his career, he has a slash line of .242/.332/.358, so he is underperforming drastically this season, which may play into the Blue Jays hands.
However, he isn’t too far removed from having a career year, as in 2021 he posted a .279/.382/.418 slash line with a career high 8 homers in 397 plate appearances. This led to a wRC+ of 127, further complemented by a higher BB% (13.1%) than a K% (12.8%).
Defensively, he plays second base and left field. This season, he has posted a -4 Defensive Runs Saved and a 1 Outs Above Average at second base. In left field, the 30-year-old has posted a 0 DRS and -1 OAA.
Kemp has also played both centre field and right field in prior seasons, but hasn’t featured there since joining Oakland in 2020.

Contract:

This season, the 30-year-old Kemp is making just $2,250,000. He is also under team control until the end of the 2023 season, meaning that a lot of his value comes from his contract, as well as performance in past seasons.

Positional Need:

If I’m being honest, not really. The scope of the Blue Jays needs has shifted from offense to pitching. The bats have been doing well since May, but the pitcher has started to struggle.
What’s more is that I don’t think Kemp is an upgrade over Cavan Biggio (super utility), Ramiel Tapia (back up outfielder) or Santiago Espinal (second baseman). For that reason, I believe the Jays should pass on Tony Kemp.

Frankie Montas:

In his last start, the 29-year-old righty left after just an inning of work. Thankfully, he is just day to day according to the manager.
This means that we can include him on the list!

Statistics:

This season, Montas has posted a 3.26 ERA and 3.30 FIP in 96.2 innings pitched. His K/9 sits at a solid 9.31 while his BB/9 is a rather low 2.23. Furthermore, he’s struck out 25.8% of the batters he’s faced while walking only 6.2% of the batters he’s faced.
Montas also gets quite a few ground balls, as his ground ball percentage sits at 47.1%, the second highest in his career.
Speaking of his career, in his 544.2 innings pitched since 2015, Montas has a career ERA of 3.75 and FIP of 3.70, Jose Berrios-like numbers. His K/9 is slightly below his career number of 9.40, but his 2022 BB/9 sits well below his career number of 2.92.
His best season to date came in the 2019 season, where he posted a 2.63 ERA and 3.00 FIP in 96 innings pitched. He also had a career low BB/9 of 2.16 and a K/9 of 9.66 this season. This totaled to a fWAR of 3.0 that season.
In terms of his best fWAR, that came in the 2021 season, where he posted a 4.1 fWAR in 187 innings pitched. Montas’ ERA sat at 3.37 while his FIP sat at the exact same number. His K/9 sat at 9.96 while his BB/9 was higher at 2.74.
As for his stuff, the righty throws five different pitches. His four seam fastball clocks in at an average of 96.2 mph, which he throws 27.6% of the time. His next pitch is a splitter, which he throws 25.7% of the time at an average of the time.
He also throws two different variations of a fastball, a sinker that he throws 21.7% of the time at an average of 95.6 mph and a cutter that he throws 9.3% of the time at an average of 89.4 mph.
Lastly, his only other off speed pitch is an 87 mph slider, which he throws 15.7% of the time, which also gets his highest Whiff% at 39.8%.

Contract:

This season, Montas is making $5,025,000 and has an additional year of team control, meaning he won’t hit free agency until after the 2023 season.
When you add the fact that he’s putting up front end rotation numbers, the cost of Montas would be quite a lot. In my opinion, a trade for him may be similar to the Jose Berrios deal that occurred at last year’s trade deadline.

Positional Need:

Without a doubt, the Jays need an extra starter. If a trade for Montas (or any starter for that matter) is to happen, I believe Yusei Kikuchi should head to the bullpen. While his strike throwing ability has come into question, his stuff does get swings and misses, something that is desperately needed.

Are the Athletics an ideal trading partner:

The A’s have made it clear that they’re rebuilding. Not just that, but unlike most rebuilding squads, the team doesn’t have a lot of top 100 prospects. This deadline presents an opportunity to cash in on those players.
While Kemp and Puk may not be traded come August 2nd, it seems all but certain that Montas will be on the move. Quite honestly, he’ll likely be the best starter available at this deadline, and the Jays should do everything possible to be the ones that land him.

Previously in the Series….

Cincinnati Reds
Washington Nationals
Kansas City Royals
Detroit Tigers
As always, you can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D. Next up will be the Mariners, with the Marlins *hopefully* coming after them.

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