What Is a Fair Trade Package for A’s Closer Mason Miller?

The Oakland Athletics flamethrower could command an unprecedented return if he is dealt ahead of the July 30 trade deadline.

Mason Miller of the Oakland Athletics in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Mason Miller #19 of the Oakland Athletics in action against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on April 22, 2024 in New York City. Oakland Athletics defeated the New York Yankees 2-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mason Miller has been the Oakland Athletics’ best player this season. That’s a testament to how well he has pitched in his rookie campaign. It’s also a reminder that the A’s aren’t a very good baseball team.

Needless to say, Oakland will be selling at the trade deadline this summer. The A’s were the worst team in the American League in 2022 and ’23, and the only thing saving them from a similar fate this season is the utter ineptitude of the Chicago White Sox.

However, they don’t have many trade chips remaining on the roster, at least not in the traditional sense. None of their veterans on expiring contracts have been particularly good this season. Instead, their best performers have been those playing on inexpensive, pre-arbitration deals.

Brent Rooker won’t reach free agency until the 2027-28 offseason. Shea Langeliers, JJ Bleday, and JP Sears are under team control for another year after that. Mason Miller, the shining star of the organization, won’t reach free agency until the 2029 season is in the books.

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Most teams wouldn’t consider trading any of those guys. Even a penny-pinching organization like the A’s would usually wait until their stars became “expensive” in arbitration before selling them off. That’s exactly what they did with Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Sean Murphy in recent years.

Yet, the present-day Athletics are in a different position. Not only are they one of the worst teams in baseball, but they have little incentive to improve anytime soon.

Their lease at the Oakland Coliseum is up at the end of the year. They are hoping to move to a new stadium in Las Vegas ahead of the 2028 season. In the meantime, they’ll bide their time with a multi-year stopover at a minor league ballpark in Sacramento.

In other words, they won’t have an MLB-sized ballpark to fill with fans. They won’t have a new home and a new fanbase to appeal to. As depressing as it is to think about, their plan is probably to remain as uncompetitive as possible for the next few seasons, stockpiling young talent in hopes of competing in 2028 and beyond.

That means the idea of the Athletics trading Mason Miller isn’t nearly as unfathomable as it first sounds. And it certainly does sound hard to believe. Miller is only 25. He’s only played 30 big league games. He’s under team control for five and a half more seasons. Two months ago, he was one of Just Baseball’s Top 100 Prospects. Now he’s one of our top trade candidates.

This doesn’t happen.

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So, what on earth does a trade package for Mason Miller look like? After all, when a player like Miller is traded, he is usually part of the return package.

With almost no precedent to work with, this is a difficult question to answer. However, Aram Leighton and Jack McMullen recently discussed this very question on The Call Up podcast, and they proposed three trade packages that could be enough to land Miller before the deadline. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

Baltimore Orioles Trade Package for Mason Miller

The Prospects

Heston Kjerstad may have only been the Orioles’ No. 5 prospect on our preseason rankings, but he is a consensus top-100 prospect in baseball. With all the young players who have graduated from prospect eligibility this year, it’s safe to say Kjerstad is now one of the top 50 prospects in the game.

The 25-year-old outfielder is currently demolishing Triple-A, with 13 home runs and a 1.122 OPS in 36 games. He’s the kind of close-to-the-majors talent the Athletics covet, and he’s expendable on an Orioles team that simply has too many talented youngsters to fit them all into the lineup.

The secondary piece in this package is second baseman/outfielder Connor Norby. Not yet 24, Norby is also off to a strong start at Triple-A with nine homers and 16 doubles in 48 games. Furthermore, he is flashing his versatility as he splits time between the keystone and the outfield corners. Like Kjerstad, Norby is nearing the majors, but he is blocked by a logjam of talent in front of him on Baltimore’s depth chart.

Dylan Beavers, 22, is younger and lesser known than Kjerstad and Norby, but he possesses some highly intriguing tools; his combination of plus speed and plus power is a tantalizing mix for a young outfielder. He is currently posting an .851 OPS at Double-A, with seven home runs, nine steals, and 25 walks in 41 games.

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Aram had this to say about Beavers on our preseason Orioles prospect rankings: “With still much more power to potentially be unlocked, strong contact rates and good speed, Beavers boasts exciting upside.”

The final piece in this package, and the only pitcher, is 23-year-old right-hander Trace Bright. He has had success with his fastball and curveball so far in his young career, but the rest of his arsenal (and his spotty command) have kept him from moving farther up prospect lists. However, he has pitched well since his promotion to Double-A last summer (2.81 ERA in 57.2 IP).

If we were talking about almost any other team’s system, Bright would be more than a throw-in piece at the back of a trade. In this case, he’s the final piece of the puzzle that might just put the Orioles over the top. Indeed, it’s hard to imagine any other team winning the sweepstakes if Baltimore makes an offer this rich.

The Rationale

The Orioles are good, but they’ll need to be better if they’re going to win their second straight division title and make a deeper playoff run than they did in 2023.

This team certainly doesn’t need any more position players, and the top of the rotation is set with Corbin Burnes, Kyle Bradish, and Grayson Rodriguez. The best place for the Orioles to improve is the back of the bullpen, where they are desperately missing Félix Bautista. Closer Craig Kimbrel is a wild card, while set-up man Yennier Cano doesn’t look nearly as dominant as he did last season.

Just think about Bautista and Miller joining forces at the back of the Orioles bullpen in 2025 and beyond. That team might never give up a lead.

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Miller is also a good fit for Baltimore given his guaranteed low salary for the next several years. The Orioles are under new ownership this year, but it remains unclear how much payroll will really increase.

Chicago Cubs Trade Package for Mason Miller

The Prospects

Canadian slugger Owen Caissie, just 21 years old and already punishing Triple-A pitching, will be a tough piece for the Cubs to part with. The same could be said of fellow 21-year-old outfielder Kevin Alcantara, who boasts nearly as much raw power as Caissie, plus the speed and range to be a starting center fielder.

At the same time, the Cubs are going to have to put those guys on the table if they want the A’s to listen to their offer. Besides, it’s not as if the Cubs have a shortage of outfielders. Seiya Suzuki, Ian Happ, Mike Tauchman, and Patrick Wisdom are under contract through 2026, as Cody Bellinger could be if he picks up both of his player options. And that’s not to mention Cubs No. 1 prospect Pete Crow-Armstrong, who could be anchoring the outfield at Wrigley into the 2030s.

While Caissie and Alcantara are the headliners, James Triantos is the final piece that gets this deal done. Yet another 21-year-old, Triantos has mostly played second base over the past two years, although he also has experience at third base and in the outfield.

Ultimately, defense won’t be his strong suit no matter where he plays; he just needs to find a position so he can get his bat into the lineup. Aram described Triantos as “the best hit tool in the Cubs system.”

After a brief cup of coffee at Double-A last year, Triantos is slashing .271/.304/.395 this year in 45 games. He’s not blowing his competition out of the water, but he’s holding his own.

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The Rationale

The Cubs have one of the better farm systems in the game, and some sources even have them at No. 1. While they might not have quite as much talent to spare as the Orioles, they can afford to trade from their surplus of outfield prospects.

What’s more, the Cubs will surely be looking for help in the bullpen. Their relievers currently rank 13th in the NL with a 4.56 ERA, and they don’t have a bona fide closer. Adbert Alzolay took on the role last season, but he was struggling this year even before he landed on the injured list.

One could argue the Cubs aren’t in a good position to spend their best trade chips on a relief pitcher. Closers are a luxury, and a dominant closer is more valuable to a postseason-bound club than a team fighting to stay above .500.

However, the beauty of Miller is that he’ll be under team control for so many seasons that the Cubs don’t have to worry about blowing it all on a closer only to miss the playoffs anyway. This team is at the beginning of its competitive window; if Miller and the Cubs don’t play this October, there’s always next year.

New York Yankees Trade Package for Mason Miller

The Prospects

Spencer Jones is off to a slow start in 2024, but it’s impossible to ignore his potential. Here’s what Aram wrote about him ahead of the season:

Acknowledging the risk involved, there is All-Star upside to dream on with Jones as a monster-sized power threat who moves way better than he should in center and has shown that he can make a fair amount of contact. An improved approach and more consistent elevation could make Jones one of the most dynamic prospects in baseball.

Aram Leighton, New York Yankees Top 15 Prospects for 2024

Jones is huge. Jones is incredibly strong. Best of all, he has plus speed and a future in center field. Considering the organization he plays for, it’s hard not to make comparisons with another hulking center fielder.

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It will certainly be difficult for the Yankees to part with Jones, but it helps that their No. 1 prospect is another power-hitting center fielder who has already flashed his brilliance at the MLB level. More to the point, the Yankees aren’t getting Miller unless they’re willing to give up a talent like Jones.

Everson Pereira is yet another powerful outfielder with a chance to stick in center field, but he comes with more concerns than Jones (or Jasson Domínguez). He struggled tremendously in a handful of games with the big league club last year, and his performance at Triple-A this season has been underwhelming. He needs to bring down his strikeouts if he wants any chance to survive against MLB pitching.

Finally, Brock Selvidge is a 21-year-old left-hander who has pitched well at every level so far throughout his young career. He’s the final piece the Yankees need to throw in at the back of this deal, but he has a versatile pitch mix that could help him become a reliable back-end starter at the MLB level.

The Rationale

Unlike the Orioles and Cubs, the Yankees don’t have any questions about their closer. Clay Holmes has been one of the best relievers in the sport since he joined the team in 2021, and he’s off to another phenomenal start in 2024. Overall, New York’s bullpen ranks first in MLB in saves and second in ERA.

However, this is the Yankees we’re talking about. And this Yankees team is under a lot of pressure to win now. Juan Soto will be a free agent at the end of the season. Aaron Judge is on the wrong side of 30 and won’t be a superstar forever. On top of that, chairman Hal Steinbrenner recently claimed that the team’s current payroll is unsustainable. The Yankees of 2025 and beyond may not be as competitive as they are right now.

Thus, it’s not hard to see why the Yankees would push all their chips into the middle of the table for Miller. Besides, they wouldn’t just be getting one of the best closers in baseball – they’d be keeping him away from their division rivals.

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New York’s farm system isn’t as strong as Baltimore’s or Chicago’s, but the Yankees have the talent to put together a competitive package for Miller, and they might just have more drive than anyone else to get it done.

Stats, records, and rankings updated prior to games on May 31.