Athletics

A's catcher Beau Taylor far more confident in second big-league stint

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A's catcher Beau Taylor far more confident in second big-league stint

OAKLAND -- Beau Taylor toiled in the minor leagues for eight long years before finally getting his first big league call-up at the end of last season.

Needless to say, it was the thrill of a lifetime for the A's catcher, who wasn't sure he would ever make it to baseball's highest level.

"That's one of the greatest feelings, especially coming up with the team that drafted me,"  Taylor told NBC Sports California. "It was exciting."

Taylor only ended up getting five at-bats but did record his first major-league hit -- a double against the Angels. Even in his limited time with Oakland, he learned a great deal from his teammates.

"I didn't really know what to expect when I got up here," he said. "I mean, I've been up here during the (preseason) Bay Bridge series but didn't exactly know how it was during the season. It was eye-opening for me actually seeing how these guys get prepared each day for the game. It helped me grow as a player, knowing what they do in the weight room and just getting ready for the game mentally and physically."

Taylor, 29, earned his second major-league call-up earlier this month when Nick Hundley went on the injured list with back spasms. While Taylor was once again excited for the opportunity, it felt more like business as usual this time.

"(Last year) it still seemed like a little bit of a blur," he said. "This time, I can see a little bit more now. ... It's just more familiar. I feel like I belong. That's the best part, especially when everybody takes you in. I've caught all of these pitchers and been around these guys for a long time. It's a really good feeling."

That confidence has been reflected in Taylor's performance. He has notched three hits in 11 at-bats, belting his first career home run Tuesday night against the Orioles.

"I think since Beau has been here, this is the most comfortable we've seen him," A's manager Bob Melvin assessed. "I really have sensed a little different look in his eye and being comfortable here in the big leagues with his teammates."

Taylor's familiarity with his teammates has certainly helped him feel at home. He played alongside several current A's in Triple-A, Double-A, and even Single-A over the past few years.

"I've known a lot of these guys for a really long time," Taylor said. "It feels kind of like home, actually, being back up here. Everybody meshes well together. It feels really good to be here."

[RELATED: Semien thrives as A's leadoff hitter this season]

Taylor has also excelled defensively in his first few games, expertly managing the pitching staff and throwing out both attempted base stealers he's seen. That will definitely earn him more regular playing time as Josh Phegley's backup.

"We look to get Beau some consistent starts here, whether it's on day games, whether we have lefty-righties coming up where we can get him some good matchups," Melvin said. "I've been impressed by (him)."

Why A's should either trade or non-tender All-Star Blake Treinen

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Why A's should either trade or non-tender All-Star Blake Treinen

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who may or may not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Blake Treinen, RHP

Contract: Final year of arbitration (projected to get $7.8 million after earning $6.4 million this season)

Reasons to bring him back

In 2018, Blake Treinen enjoyed one of the greatest seasons in MLB history. The right-hander went 9-2 with 38 saves and a 0.78 ERA, notching 100 strikeouts in 80 1/3 innings.

Unfortunately, Treinen followed that up with the worst season of his career, going 6-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 2019, ultimately losing the closer job to Liam Hendriks. Still, Treinen's stuff looked dominant at times and he could certainly bounce back in 2020.

Treinen is still just 31 years old and should have some productive years ahead of him. His fastball averaged 97 mph this season with explosive movement. If he can improve his command, Treinen could still be a productive reliever moving forward.

Reasons to let him go

Treinen is coming off an incredibly disappointing season. He entered the year as one of the top closers in baseball, but quickly lost his closer job due to injury and poor performance.

Treinen's 4.91 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, and 5.14 FIP were all career worsts, as were his 37 walks in just 58 2/3 innings. He saw his season come to a premature end when an MRI revealed a stress reaction in his back. And pitchers and back injuries don't mix well (see: Marco Estrada). Tendering Treinen a contract would be a major risk.

Final verdict

Treinen could very well return to being an effective relief pitcher, but the A's can't afford to take that chance for nearly $8 million. That money would be better spent on multiple relievers to help shore up the team's shaky bullpen.

[RELATED: A's stay or go candidate for 2020 season: Jake Diekman]

Between Treinen's on-field struggles and the injury concerns, Oakland would be better off seeking an offseason trade of its former All-Star closer. If the A's can't get a deal done, look for a non-tender.

Why Jake Diekman's command issues could mean A's move on in offseason

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Why Jake Diekman's command issues could mean A's move on in offseason

Editor's note: Over the next two weeks, we will examine 10 A's players who might or might not return to Oakland next season. For each player, we will provide reasons why the A's should bring him back and reasons why they should not, followed by a final determination.

Jake Diekman, LHP

Contract: $5.75 million mutual option for 2020 ($500,000 buyout)

Reasons to bring him back

Diekman's stuff is undeniable. The 32-year-old left-hander boasts a 96-mph fastball along with a wicked slider, making him a tricky at-bat for right-handed and left-handed hitters alike.

Despite a 1-7 record and 4.65 ERA this season, Diekman notched 84 strikeouts in just 62 innings. For his career, he has averaged 11.2 punchouts per nine innings.

Another reason to keep Diekman is Oakland's lack of left-handed relievers. Jesús Luzardo and A.J. Puk both figure to move to the starting rotation next year and Ryan Buchter's return is far from certain. As a result, Diekman could be the only southpaw in the A's bullpen.

Reasons to let him go

While Diekman's strikeout numbers were highly impressive, his lack of command became a major issue down the stretch. He walked 39 batters this season, including 16 in 20 1/3 innings with the A's.

That contributed significantly to Diekman's disappointing 1.42 WHIP and 4.65 ERA. For $5.75 million, you'd have to think the A's would want someone more consistent and reliable in the late innings.

[RELATED: A's 3B coach Williams will manage in Korea next season]

Final verdict

Oakland is unlikely to bring Diekman back next season for a couple of reasons. Far too often, he just doesn't know where his pitches are going. Throughout his career, Diekman has averaged five walks per nine innings. That's a serious problem for a setup man.

The other factor is Diekman's $5.75 million price tag. That is a high figure for any non-closer, but particularly worrisome for a setup man who has proven to be inconsistent.

The A's would probably be wise to spend that money elsewhere.