I was just thinking last night that maybe Billy Beane had ceased to actually exist. He hadn't made a trade involving a major league player since the Juan Cruz-for-Brad Halsey trade back in March 2006. Where's he been?
Who the heck is David Shafer? Never heard of him. PECOTA doesn't think that much of him; it gives him at best a 50% chance of being nothing more than a scrub. Kevin Goldstein doesn't bother to mention him in his Top Reds Prospects article, while John Sickels ranks him as the Reds 18th best prospect, calling him a "useful bullpen spare part."
So basically, this was a salary dump. Saarloos just hit arbitration status, and his mediocre production, while valuable at minimum wage, isn't so valuable at higher prices. Plus, I think the A's had about 13 pitchers who were either too good for the minors, or were without any major league options left, so someone had to go.
From the Reds point of view, I suppose a ground-ball pitcher like Saarloos would have more value in a home-run launching pad like Cincinnati than elsewhere. My call: a good non-deal for both sides.