With the trade deadline creeping ever so closely to us all, the Oakland A’s and Chicago Cubs agreed to a trade that would send left-handed reliever Andrew Chafin to Oakland while prospects Greg Deichmann and Daniel Palencia to the north side.
Chafin, 31, joins a bullpen corps with the second fewest innings pitched, a result of both the A’s strong starting rotation, but also the A’s lack of bullpen depth. The A’s have had 15 different pitchers make relief appearances this year, a constant reshuffling deriving from both injuries and underperformance. And while as a whole the bullpen has a top 10 ERA, their middling FIP suggests some regression. But not only do the A’s lack depth, they lack top end talent. Lou Trivino has been getting the lion’s share of save opportunities, but he has a 3.74 FIP. Furthermore, Sergio Romo is the A’s only reliever in the top 60 of qualified relievers in FIP. But in Chafin, the A’s get a reliever who’s been a strong closer option his entire career. Chafin’s 2.06 ERA and 2.67 FIP make him the best reliever on the A’s, and his 24.7% strikeout rate is only exceeded by Jake Diekman and Sergio Romo. Another aspect to Chafin that provides utility is his handedness. Prior to this trade, the only left-handed relievers on the A’s were Jake Diekman, owner of a 4.29 FIP, and career minor leaguer Sam Moll. The addition of Chafin gives the A’s more versatility when it comes to pitching to lefties, incredibly useful in a division with both Yordan Alvarez and Shohei Ohtani. Chafin does have a mutual option for 2022, so should the A’s want to keep him and should he want to stay in Oakland, there is a path in place for that.
On their way to Chicago are OF Greg Deichmann and RHP Daniel Palencia, two very different prospects. Deichmann was a second round pick in 2017, and through a combination of injuries and acts of god, has only played 244 professional games in his career despite being 26. What’s always been Deichmann’s calling card is his 70 grade raw power. He’s never gotten to that power in games, however. He’s never had a high home run total in a season, peaking at 11 home runs in his maiden double A season, nor has he ever had a HR/FB% of at least 15%. Contact ability has always been the concern for him, with strikeout rates of 30%+ when he played in High A and Double A, but in his return to action at Triple A this year has seen him cut his strikeout rate down to 23% while also upping his walk rate to 19.2%. It’s an intriguing profile. Even with the middling power he’s shown in the upper minors, this extreme jump in plate discipline still makes him a valuable contributor. His defense grades out as average, with his experience being in right field almost entirely. Deichmann has a fascinating profile, especially when combined with his left handed bat, that makes it a near certainty that he will at least find a role on the bench in the majors.
Daniel Palencia has played just six professional games in his career, but he already has tools that gets teams salivating. The 5’11 right hander has a fastball that can reach 100 MPH and sits high 90s to go along with a curveball that flashes plus at times. There’s reliever risk to Palencia given it’s questionable how his short frame will be able to handle large inning workloads, but he has promising tools that make him a desirable player for any team.
With this trade, the A’s finally get the high leverage reliever they’ve been lacking while also deepening their bullpen, while the Cubs get a major league ready OF and a raw but gifted pitcher.