The Oakland A’s have exercised Yusmeiro Petit’s contract option, the team announced Thursday. The relief pitcher will stay with the A’s for the 2020 season on a $5.5 million salary.
Oakland originally signed Petit entering 2018, and the right-hander has pitched two years in the green and gold. He was good in his first season for the A’s, but this past summer he stepped up even further and enjoyed one of the best performances of his career, rising up to the role of top setup man behind closer Liam Hendriks.
Petit, 2018: 3.00 ERA, 93 ip, 76 Ks, 18 BB, 13 HR, 3.92 FIP
Petit, 2019: 2.71 ERA, 83 ip, 71 Ks, 10 BB, 11 HR, 3.59 FIP
In addition to those numbers, over the last two years he converted 45-of-49 hold opportunities, which is an elite 92% success rate (including 29-of-31 in 2019). He’s also posted a sparking .280 xwOBA for Oakland, including a .264 mark this season that ranked behind only Hendriks (.225) among full-time A’s pitchers.
Not only was Petit extremely effective in 2019, he also did a huge quantity of work. His 80 appearances led the AL, and his 83 innings ranked top-7 among all MLB relievers (and three of the names above him were really more like swingmen than pure relievers). On top of all that, those outings tended to be in tough spots, as his 60 inherited runners led the majors (by a half-dozen) — and with only 14 of them scoring, for a better-than-average 23% rate.
All of that is to say that Petit had a great year and further cemented himself as a quality late-inning reliever, despite averaging just 89 mph on his fastball. After earning $3.5 million and $5.5 million in his first two seasons in Oakland, it was a no-brainer to bring him back again for another $5.5 million. He turns 35 in a few weeks, and relievers are notoriously difficult to predict, but this is still as easy of a call as you’ll find.
With Petit back on board, the A’s now have five players under contract for 2020 at a total commitment of $46.2 million: DH Khris Davis, OF Stephen Piscotty, RHP Mike Fiers, RHP Joakim Soria, and Petit. There are another dozen eligible for arbitration, which you can read about here. Oakland had another contract option in the bullpen, for lefty reliever Jake Diekman, but the team declined that $5.75 million option on Thursday.