Washington Nationals: Sean Doolittle should be worried about next contract

Sean Doolittle finds himself struggling to secure a role on the 2020 Washington Nationals team, ahead of his impending free agency.

The team friendly 7 YR/$22.5M contract Sean Doolittle signed with the Oakland Athletics in 2014 expires at the end of this season, and the pitcher will hit free agency for the first time.

The two-time All-Star has seen his stock fall in the past couple of seasons and is in danger of bottoming out. Having lost his closer’s job towards the end of last year, he began this season as the setup man for the Washington Nationals.

Being the eighth inning guy has not gone well for Doolittle. He has given up runs in three of his four outings. Doolittle has pitched just two innings in those four appearances and given up two home runs to boot.

When he hits free agency after this year he will be able to market himself as a closer nonetheless. Doolittle has 111 career saves to his name. He is not a lockdown closer however, and his earned run average has now crept above three for his time in the majors.

Nationals manager Davey Martinez has stayed with Doolittle in late inning situations, even though reliever Tanner Rainey has pitched far better in the early going. One would not be surprised to see their roles switched in the coming days. Leashes have to be short in this shortened season, and especially since the Nationals find themselves playing below .500 baseball.

Entering free agency Doolittle stands to lose millions of dollars if he is viewed as just another reliever as opposed to a closer. Doolittle does have the stuff of a closer, though he may find himself steered into the role of a left handed specialist.

The energy and fun loving spirit “Doo” exhibits is welcome to any clubhouse. He appears to be a great teammate and a great competitor. He is struggling at the moment though and unless he rights the ship soon, he will be entering free agency with a lot of uncertainty.