Andrew Bailey is good. Andrew Bailey is cheap. There's a fair chance that Billy Beane could get a huge return for him. Trading young players a couple of years before they hit free agency is what Beane does. It's his catch phrase. So it's no surprise that the closer's name is coming up in trade rumors.
The Boston Red Sox are meeting with the A's on Tuesday, according to Danny Knobler. The Sox were an imperfect bullpen away from the playoffs last September. A perfect one would have been swell, but just your garden variety bullpen would have done wonders. Instead, Daniel Bard imploded, allowing 14 runs in 11 September innings and blowing three saves. Jonathan Papelbon struck out 15 and walked two in nine September innings -- basically what he did all year. But he also blew two crucial saves against the Orioles that lead to a loss.
No one remembers Papelbon's dominance in the regular season. Well, the Phillies did. But Papelbon's 2011 isn't going to be remembered as his best season ever, which it probably should be. Reminds me of that NSFW joke about the goat. But you blow a save to one Orioles team …
The Rangers are also said to be interested, continuing their Pokemon strategy of acquiring every late-inning reliever in baseball. There's some sort of holy war going on between utility infielders and late-inning relievers, and the Dodgers and Rangers are gathering the true believers for a final, bloody battle. But according to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the A's are asking for a substantial return, which would be expected. Bailey is just entering his first year of arbitration, so there's no rush just yet.
The last time Beane traded a closer, he shipped off Huston Street to get Matt Holliday. That was good! But he also included Carlos Gonzalez in the deal. That's bad. Then he flipped Holliday for a prospect. That's good! The prospects were Brett Wallace, Clayton Mortensen, and Shane Peterson. That's bad. Brett Wallace was traded for Michael Taylor, who contains potassium benzoate. You can go now.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Padres and Angels are also interested, though it would be hard to see the Padres giving up anything substantial, considering that a) they aren't expecting to contend in 2012, and b) they can usually make new relievers from feathers and loose soil.
But it seems likely that this would be the offseason for Beane to maximize the value of the closer that he'll eventually peddle. He's not shy about trading a player a year too early instead of a year too late, and with scores of millions already going to closers this offseason, teams might think it's a better idea to trade prospects away instead of tens of millions of dollars to get their late-inning man.