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The Ones Who Got Away: Athletics Castoffs Have Key World Series Roles in 2020

Tampa Bay infielder Joey Wendle, Dodgers slugger Max Muncy and Los Angeles setup reliever Blake Treinen all came to their current team from the Oakland Athletics.
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The A’s will be a mild subtext in the World Series that starts Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas, with Los Angeles and Tampa Bay squaring off.

The Dodgers haven’t won the World Series in three decades, the Kirk-Gibson-homers-off-Dennis-Eckersley World Series of 1988.

More than that, some of the key personnel have some deep Oakland ties.

For the Rays, Joey Wendle was an up-and-comer in the A’s organization for three seasons, 2015-17. He would spend most of that time in the minor leagues, but in his first 36 games as a big leaguer, he put together a ..266/.305/.339.

Ultimately, the A’s dealt him to Tampa in a December, 2017 deal that brought Oakland switch-hitting catcher Jonah Heim, who made his big league debut this season. A versatile type who can play second, third or short, he’s played in all 14 postseason games and hit .353 in the American League Division Series against the Yankees.

One of the Dodgers’ key bats, first baseman Max Muncy, turned out to be a gift from the A’s. A fifth-round draft pick in 2012, Muncy was seen as a potential impact bat by the A’s. But after hitting .206 as a rookie in 2015 and .186 in 2016, the A’s released him a couple of days before the 2017 season began.

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He signed with the Dodgers a month later, spent 2017 in the minors, then became the hitter the A’s had once thought he’d be with back-to-back 35-homer seasons in 2018 and 2018. He’s been used at second, third and first, but the Dodgers’ best lineup generally has him a first base, batting fourth or fifth about half the time.

And one of the key additions to the Dodgers bullpen this year, Blake Treinen, saved 38 games for the A’s in 2018. But 2019 saw him get off to a quick start. But from late April to mid-July he had a 6.75 ERA and ultimately lost his closer’s job to Liam Hendricks.

The A’s let him go as a free agent, he signed with the Dodgers and frequently has been manager Dave Roberts’ go-to guy with men on base in the late innings.

There is also an A’s link to the Dodgers’ coaching staff. Los Angeles bench coach Bob Geren was the A’s manager for four seasons before being fired mid-2012 and replaced by current A’s skipper Bob Melvin. Geren had gotten the A’s to .500 at 81-81 in 2010, but he was let go after a 27-36 start to the 2011 season.

Follow Athletics insider John Hickey on Twitter: @JHickey3

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