Word has just come down that Oakland Athletics reliever Sean Doolittle has signed an extension with the team. The financials haven’t been announced yet, but the contract ensures he will be donning the green and gold for 5 more years, thru 2018. The deal also includes club options for 2019 and 2020.
Sean Doolittle has been an integral part of the Oakland bullpen since being called up in 2012. The past couple of seasons, Doolittle was a key setup man for the recently departed Grant Balfour. This season, he was expected to do the same with the acquisition of Jim Johnson, but when Johnson struggled to start the season, Doolittle and Luke Gregerson have been called upon to close out games.
With this deal, it is reasonable to suspect that the Athletics see Sean Doolittle as their closer of the future. Johnson is only signed through this season, and will most likely be moving on following the 2014 campaign. This leaves the door wide open for the former first baseman to claim the closer role in 2015.
The Athletics were smart in locking him up early, avoiding arbitration, if he is to become their closer. He would command a much higher total cost if the A’s planned on keeping him, but instead will pay a little extra now, to avoid paying more down the road.