(Over the next week, we will be examining each of the A's arbitration-eligible players to determine whether they will return in 2019.)
Blake Treinen was nearly perfect in 2018. The A's closer allowed just seven earned runs the entire season. Seven!
Treinen went 9-2 with 38 saves and a league-leading 0.78 ERA, along with a 0.83 WHIP. He notched 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings, becoming the first pitcher ever to record 30 saves and 100 strikeouts with an ERA under one.
For his efforts, Treinen was named an All-Star for the first time in his career. He will likely receive votes for the Cy Young Award as well.
Treinen, 30, earned just $2.15 million in 2018 and is projected to get $5.8 million in arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Why he might be a bargain
If $5.8 million does end up being the number, it would be an incredible bargain for the A's. Treinen has established himself as an elite closer, perhaps the best in the game. Not only does he have dominant stuff, but he can pitch multiple innings. The A's were nearly unbeatable when leading after seven innings last season, and Treinen was the primary reason why. His 98 mph sinker is one of the most unhittable pitches in baseball, and at just 30 years of age, the talented right-hander shows no signs of slowing down.
Why he might be too pricey
As with Khris Davis, it's hard to even make a legitimate argument here. Some people in the baseball world believe closers are unnecessary, but even they would probably admit that $5.8 million is a bargain for a pitcher as talented as Treinen. The only question is whether the two sides will agree to terms before arbitration.
Treinen will be back in Oakland next season. He will almost certainly be back in 2020 as well, as he will again be under team arbitration control. Treinen was the MVP of the A's bullpen, and probably the entire pitching staff. He figures to be just as valuable moving forward and should have Oakland's pen near the top of baseball again. Oakland may try to lock Treinen up with a long-term deal before he becomes a free agent in 2021.