OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.Oakland traded Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and infield prospect Will Toffey to
OAKLAND -- One of the best bullpens in the game just got better.
The surging A's, suddenly meddling in the American League Wild Card race, fortified an already formidable bullpen with the addition of Mets closer Jeurys Familia on Saturday.
Oakland traded Triple-A reliever Bobby Wahl and infield prospect Will Toffey to reel in the best rental reliever on the market, tossing in $1 million in international bonus pool money.
"We thought he was the best guy out there," A's general manager David Forst said. "We've talked for a few weeks now about what we can do to add to this team. Obviously the guys have played great, and we've been very open about how we feel like they deserve an opportunity.
"Adding a reliever right now was the best option, and we thought Jeurys was the best guy, so we've been talking to the Mets for a while, and we're happy that it came together."
Modest expectations aside, the 55-43 A's are playing like a contender, entering Saturday just four games back of the Mariners for the second AL Wild Card spot, with much thanks to a solid offense and a sturdy bullpen.
They're 38-0 when leading after seven innings this season, and 46-0 when leading after eight. Now setup man Lou Trivino and All-Star closer Blake Treinen have elite company: Familia, who is expected in Oakland ahead of Sunday's matinee against the Giants, has extensive closing experience, racking up 51 saves as an All-Star in 2016.
The A's are now equipped with a three-headed relief monster, much akin to the vaunted bullpen trio once dispatched by the Royals -- Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland.
An underrated version utilized by the A's in 2012, when they relied on Ryan Cook, Sean Doolittle and Grant Balfour, was essential to their surprising playoff push.
"For already having a good bullpen, to be able to bring in an arm like this, man, it's pretty significant," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "We'll figure out how we're going to go with it. I'll certainly talk to him before I say how this is going to be deployed as far as what innings for who. But this is a real significant pickup for us. You can't ask for much more."
Despite a glaring need for starting help, the A's believe they've augmented their club in a similar way by supplementing their relief corps.
The Mets are the only organization that Familia has known, signing with the club as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in July 2007. Now 28, his tenure in New York included 123 saves, third-most in franchise history, and a 2.66 ERA with more than a strikeout per inning -- including 43 in 40 2/3 innings this season following a mostly forgettable 2017 campaign.
He served a 15-game suspension at the start of 2017 for violating Major League Baseball's joint domestic violence policy, then missed time later that year recovering from arterial surgery on his right shoulder.
Familia has been at his best this month, throwing seven scoreless innings in July, and his presence allows Melvin to alleviate the wear and tear on Trivino and Treinen. The A's will take on the roughly $3 million remaining on his $7.925 million contract this year before he becomes a free agent.
"I talked to him today, and I said, 'You, Trivino and Treinen are going to be as good as we've had here in a long time, as good as I can remember,' and he was excited about it," Forst said.
Not since 2014 have the A's -- winners of 21 of their last 27 games -- been in position to add, rather than subtract. The losses in that span have been substantial, too; among them, Josh Donaldson and Sonny Gray.
"Three weeks ago, maybe this isn't a conversation," Melvin said, "but the way the team's played in the last month put us in a position to be able to do something like this."
"This is fun," Forst said. "Billy [Beane] said it last week, we want to be on this side, and the conversations we've had the last week, that's why you do this job, to get to this point, to try to add, to try to get better. You always want to be on the buying side, and we're trying to enjoy it. The thing about this part of the season is you're sort of past the marathon phase. This is a sprint now through August and September, and all you have to do now is play well for another 60 games. We got a chance to do that."
Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010.