CINCINNATI — The Oakland Athletics traded pitcher Kirk Saarloos to the Cincinnati Reds on Tuesday for minor-league reliever David Shafer.

Each team also received a player to be named.

The 27-year-old Saarloos went 7-7 with two saves and a 4.75 ERA last season for the AL West champions. After being Oakland’s No. 5 starter in 2005, he made 16 starts and 19 relief appearances last year.

Saarloos had a chance to rejoin the rotation full-time this year under new A’s manager Bob Geren. Last week, Saarloos and the Athletics avoided salary arbitration when they agreed on a one-year contract worth $1.2 million.

Shafer, a 24-year-old righty, had 26 saves and a 2.36 ERA for Double-A Chattanooga last year.

I know I sound like a broken record, but another deal I don’t like. Saarloos is already 27 (and has pitched 2 years in the bigs), gives up over a hit an inning and his K/9 is only 3.33. I’d guess you’re seeing the #5 starter.
Shafer is 24 (in March) and is coming off a great year last year at AA. He probably would have been a Red at some point this season. He has way more upside than Saarloos, IMO.

Krivsky’s seeming more and more like Jim Bowden, bring 100 guys to camp and see who makes the team out of ST.

Update: The Reds have also signed Mark Bellhorn to a minor league deal, according to Trent Rosecrans.

33 Responses

  1. DevilsAdvocate

    Hmmmm. I actually kind of like the acquisition of the inexpensive Saarloos in a vacuum, but that’s the problem – this move seems to have been considered in a vacuum. As noted, there isn’t enough roster room for all the journeyman relievers and benchwarmers the Reds already have.

    And minor-league semi-prospects (read: depth) continue to be traded away for personnel that even in the rosiest-reasonable-case scenario don’t figure to have a significant impact. Not to mention that there’s no room at all for a developing farm system to graduate players that deserve a chance in the majors.

    The Reds are definitely in a place where upgrading personnel on the roster is a priority, not adding more equal-talent roster-fillers to battle for jobs.

  2. Chris

    I’m with you. I don’t dislike Saaloos, but I might like Shafer better, and I really don’t understand the need for an infinite number of mediocre starters.

    Bellhorn was beyond terrible with the Padres last year, for whatever that’s worth.

  3. Baseball Musings

    Double Vowels to Double N’s

    The Athletics traded Kirk Saarloos to Cincinnati today for a minor leaguer and a player to be determined. Saarloos is a very low strikeout pitcher who walked more batters than he K’d over the last three seasons and saw his…

  4. al

    normally a kriv basher, this deal has some potential. His career gb/fb ratio is 2.19 and he’s just entering his prime. he should put a lot of balls on the ground, and our imroved IF defense will be put to good use.

    plus we control his contract for 3 years, and if he can lower the walk totals he could be a legit #3. Baseball reference has his park/league neutral ERA over the last 3 years as 3.91.

    While Shafer was older than most AA players and repeating a level, Saarloos was having a bit of a down year. Could be a good case of buying low and selling high.

  5. David

    In my opinion Krivsky is crazy like a fox. Is it at all possible that he is trying to get every major league reliever under the sun in hopes that our team is nothing but relievers? That way when July roles around and teams need to do some shopping we will have the monopoly. 🙂

    Seriously, though, I don’t mind it. It has the potential to work out. Maybe David Shafer pans out and becomes an average reliever in two years. Didn’t we get an average reliever with starter ability in return.

  6. Chris

    That’s a pretty good analysis, David.

  7. Sultan of Swaff

    I agree with Al. Let’s not fool ourselves here, at best he is somewhere between a #3(optimistic) and a #6 (realistic). But both of those scenarios are cool with me. Check out this article in the Harball Times: It perfectly illustrates why rotational depth (especially having 6-8 competant starters) is so important. In a given year, you’re looking at 20+ starts by these types of guys. Here’s a guy who is better than anything we have in the minors, save for Homer. I also appreciate Kriv going for high groundball pitchers. Along with the improved infield D, it speaks to an oraganizational philosophy where there hasn’t been one.

  8. Dan

    I’m OK w/ the deal.

    Next thing we need is to deal for an all-around CF and a blow-you-away reliever.

    Then, have the guts to tell Griffey he’s our everyday RF now!

    Dunn for Granderson and Zumaya! (Granderson is a 23-year-old LH-hitting Mike Cameron type, and Zumaya throws harder than anyone on the planet.)

    Denorfia, Granderson, and Griffey to start… Freel as a frequent fill-in… Hopper and Hamilton off the bench.

    Go Reds!

  9. preach

    Maybe this is an OK thing, I thought we already had plenty of competition for the 5th spot. Maybe this is alright. I am more interested in Bellhorn. Another utility player who plays mostly: suprise…middle infield. I wonder if Jerry plans on using him at third at times when I would rather have EE in there. He is a switch hitter, can play all infield positions (if he can play catcher we will sign him long term). He is of course ‘a vet who has playoff experience and really knows how to play the game…blah, blah, blah….’ How do you think we will use him? Middle relief?

  10. Glenn

    I don’t dislike this deal either, but the Reds have invited a large number of journeyman, injury rehab and castoffs to camp this year. Unless the Reds are going to carry 15 pitchers, their are going to be quite a few long faces once the team heads north from spring training.
    BTW Bill, with most of the Reds bullpen well into their 30’s, Saarloos’ 27 is nothing short of a youth movement with this organization!

  11. Michael

    I like the deal. A lot of pitchers don’t hit their potential until their late 20’s, so 27 is still pretty young. I really like that he is a ground ball pitcher – that’s huge at GAP. Also, remember he faced an extra hitter in the American League lineup (i.e., the DH) and overall better hitters over there – his era should go down due to that alone.

    Bottom line, a competent ground ball starter/reliever with some upside for a 24 year old AA reliever – I think it was a good move.

  12. David

    I agree with Chris on the Bellhorn deal. The guy has only played more than 100 games three times in a sixteen year career. Maybe Kriv is thinking that he will be able to fill in for EdE in the right spots and that 190 BA will jump.

    The problem I have with this deal is that instead of aggressively pursuing Aurilia, the Reds seem to have answered the call with two vets in Conine and Bellhorn. Granted Aurilia will make twice as much as Bellhorn and Conine but the extra roster room would seem to allow more flexibility.

  13. Tom

    I don’t mind the Saarloos for Shafer part of the deal. Saarloos will provide some depth for the 5th SP/long reliever spot along with Santos, Belisle, Ramirez, and Livingston. I’ll reserver judgement on the overall trade until I hear who the PTBNLs are, there still a chance they can screw this up. 🙂

    Bellhorn is like Dunn turned spray hitter. His career numbers per 162 games played are 472 AB, 77 BB, 162 K, for a .231BA/.342OBP/.396SLG. I don’t see him making the team, his Ks will drive the Reds nuts. They’ll be much more likely to keep Keppinger who makes a lot of contact.

  14. Tom

    Here’s a Saarloos quote from the C. Trent Rosecrans blog:

    “For me, it’s about keeping guys in the big part of the field and keeping balls on the ground. In places like Cincinnati and Colorado and smaller ballparks, you can’t change your game and try to make them hit it on the ground. You have to trust your stuff and hopefully it ends up on the ground. I know Cincinnati has a great defense, so I’m looking forward to having those guys play behind me.”

    Sounds like he’s trying to throw groundballs. Let’s see how he feels about that great Defense after EE pitches a few into the 3rd row, Dunn misjudges a few in LF, and he takes the loss. 🙂 Where’s he get the great defense stuff from? I suppose it’s great to talk up the new teammates. But come on, Gonzalez for Clayton/Aurilia at SS isn’t going to turn our pathetic defense from last year into anything resembling a great defense. We still need lots of OF help, that’s for sure.

  15. Dan

    Bellhorn’s defense is so bad they replaced him with Todd Walker at 3b last year in San Diego. Saarloos might be okay though

  16. Shawn

    Dan (#8), if you really think the Tigers would trade us Granderson and Zumaya for Dunn, you need to pass around whatever you are smoking!

  17. Bill

    True, pitchers start into their prime around 27, but I see no sign of Saarloos heading that way.

    I would have liked Shafer to have had be given a chance in Cincinnati (or at least Louisville) last year, rather than the “ton o’ stiffs” that were signed by this organization.

    This isn’t an organization buster by any means, but it’s again the Reds showing no sign of building for the future. Krivsky seems content to trade any minor leaguer that wasn’t drafted by this regime.

  18. GodlyCynic

    I enjoyed the comment made by someone on the Rosencrans blog that this has to be a bad trade for the Reds because the A’s are great at judging pitching talent. Ummm…who is our number 1 starter again? Oh, right, a guy the A’s were willing to give up for a 2-month rental of Jose Guillen.

    Obviously, I don’t think that Saarloos will be the next Harang, but if he becomes a solid back-of-the-rotation starter for the next three years, I wouldn’t be terribly surprised.

  19. preach

    Upon further review, I think that I rather approve of this trade. Sar gave up a lot of HR’s last year, but the year before he did rather well in that category. His ratio of ground balls to fly balls is about 2:1. Not bad. I like the fact that he is not coming in with any kind of guarantee on a rotation spot and he has experience with both starting and relieving. I noticed the comment on Trents blog about the A’s judging pitching and thought about Harang for Guillen myself. If he does go to the bullpen he will be young enough to make the rest of the relievers miss their kids…
    The question is: Did Big K sign Sar’s personal catcher as well?

  20. Glenn

    Belhorn? Apparently you can never have enough infielders on a squad! Can anyone tell me what strengths he brings to the table? The man can’t field his position and he’s a career .230 hitter!

  21. Jay

    I’m OK with the deal. But I’d also be OK if the deal wouldn’t have been made. (If that makes any sense … LOL)

  22. Sultan of Swaff

    Here’s the breakdown of the average # of starts you get from each member of your rotation. NL AVG.: #1: 33.3, #2: 31.4, #3: 26.0, #4: 19.6, #5: 16.4, total: 126.7. Clearly any GM worth his salt will recognize the value in acquiring cheap replacement level pitching for this eventuality. It happens to everybody. Going 15-15 over these starts instead of 10-20 can make a huge difference in a playoff chase.

  23. Chris

    Very good point. Starts by “other” (i.e. starters 6-10) make up 25% of the schedule, if the Sultan’s numbers are correct.

  24. al

    on the bellhorn front, he’s got better numbers vs. lefties over the last 3 years than conine. Can he be considered a reasonable threat to make the team over the guy we just traded for?

  25. Chad

    I don’t have any problem with the Saarlos deal.

    I do have a problem with Wayne Krivsky dealing with Billy Beane. That’s a recipe for disaster.

  26. David

    My problem with Bellhorn is that the Reds chose to replace Aurilia with Conine+Bellhorn. While it saves about four million dollars a year which is a nice benefit, it limits the Reds’ roster flexibility.

  27. preach

    Hold the phone….

    Anyone else hear that Saarloos was one of the best college closers when he was at Cal State-Fullerton? Granted, we are a long way from college type ball, but do you think Big K might be looking for a closer possibility? Could this be a move of brilliance?….Uh, OK, that might be a bit much, but it does make for some interesting blogging speculation…

  28. EricTW

    I disliked the deal at first, but the more I look at it, the more I like it. Saarloos is just entering his prime and is a ground ball pitcher. He had a 4.75 ERA last year and a 4.17 in 2005.

    Honestly, he’s the 3rd-best starting pitcher in this rotation already, not that they’d ever start him over Milton and Lohse.

  29. DevilsAdvocate

    Interesting analysis article on Saarloos today in the Hardball Times. Seems that most expect him to have a year similar to his previous two, stat-wise.