The Oakland Athletics have locked in a piece of their pitching staff for the next few years, as they agreed to a new contract extension with reliever Sean Doolittle on Friday afternoon. The converted position player who made his debut for Oakland in 2012 will now be residing by the bay until the 2018 season, at the very least.
Doolittle has represented one of the more consistent arms for the the A’s and in all of baseball. He was extremely effective in his first season at the big league level, back in 2012. He struck out up over 11 hitters per nine innings, while walking barely over two. His ERA that year was a 3.04, but his FIP indicated something something better, at just 2.08.
Last year, Doolittle went for a 3.13 ERA and a 2.97 FIP, but his strikeout numbers dropped quite a bit, by about four punchouts per nine. He’s got that figure back up over nine this year, and he has yet to walk a better in his just over eight innings of work.
The new deal for Doolittle is set to carry him through the 2018 season, a span which the A’s already owned his rights. This deal just buys out his arbitrations years, while also opening up the possibility of buying out one or two of his free agent years, as the deal carries options for both the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
There’s nothing wrong with this deal between the Oakland A’s and Sean Doolittle, but a five-year investment in a reliever is going to come with question marks, especially given that he isn’t a closer. Say what you want about investing a closer, they’re usually the ones getting that type of term. It’ll be interesting to see if he steps into a larger role with the A’s at some point down the line, but for now they just seem interested in getting a member of their relief corps locked up.
Maybe it has something to do with his solid work in the facial hair department. Or it’s about the team control. Either one makes sense.