This past week, the Oakland A’s signed left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle to a five year contract. After switching from a first baseman to a pitcher in 2011, Doolittle has become one of the most reliable and consistent relievers in the Athletics’ bullpen. The A’s rarely sign players to lengthy contracts, but, with such a young team, it would be a good idea to lock up some of their younger, more talented players – like Sean Doolittle – before the season is over. So who else should the Oakland A’s sign to a long-term contract?
1) Sonny Gray
Even though Gray is new the MLB scene, he has proven himself worthy since his major league debut in July of last season. Even though he is only 24-years-old, this right-handed starting pitcher seems to have no fears when he steps up on the mound. So far this season, Gray has a 1.80 ERA with three wins and zeros losses. He has been so good this past year and a half that he was rewarded with a spot in the post-season rotation in 2013 and given the opportunity to be the Opening Day Starter in 2014. Gray has also expressed to the press how much he would love to stay in Oakland for the years to come.
This seems like a no-brainer. Gray is young, talented, and still has the potential to grow as a starting pitcher. The A’s may need a little bit more time to determine the benefits of signing him to a long-term contract, but if they had the confidence in him to pitch in the postseason in 2013 after just a few short months in the major leagues, it should not take them long to decide Gray’s fate in Oakland. If Gray continues to pitch successfully during the first half of this season, it would not be a surprise to see the A’s reward him with a new – and probably longer – contract.
2) Josh Donaldson
At 28-years-old, Donaldson is on the younger side and definitely has talent. With a .274 batting average and a .375 OBP over the four years he has been with the Athletics, he usually bats third in the A’s lineup since his slugging percentage tends to be around .500. Donaldson has not only brought not only a powerful bat to the lineup, but also some great defense to third base. Even though he usually flies under the radar, Donaldson was in the running for a spot in the MLB All-Star Game in 2013.
It is clear the Donaldson has monster talent. However, like most of the Athletics, Donaldson is only signed to a one year contact. Additionally, this is the last year Donaldson is pre-arbitration eligible, which means this is the last year Oakland can decide what they want Donaldson’s salary to be if he agrees to resign with the A’s. With his consistent success both on the field and at the plate, it would make sense for the Oakland A’s to lock down Donaldson before the season is over.
3) Dan Otero
Like Gray, Otero has not pitched in the Major Leagues that much throughout his career. However, the success he had as a closer in the minor leagues and the opportunity he was recently given to be part of the “closer-by-committee” approach this year for the A’s, Otero is demonstrating that he is ready to pitch in the major leagues full-time. Otero has a 1.00 ERA for the start of this season and had a 1.38 ERA for the 2013 season. Over the seven games and nine innings he has pitched so far in 2014, he has three wins and six strikeouts.
The Oakland A’s may take a little bit more time when it comes to deciding Otero’s fate with the team since he has only pitched a little more than 60 innings in the major leagues. However, with 101 saves out of 112 opportunities throughout his minor league career, it is clear the he has overwhelming potential to be an amazing closer. The A’s should seriously consider signing Otero to a long-term contact since he is a young pitcher that could be a great closer for the team in the future.