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A’s re-sign reliever Yusmeiro Petit

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A second of Oakland’s free agent pitchers returns to the team

Wild Card Round - Chicago White Sox v Oakland Athletics - Game Three Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s entered the offseason with 10 players departing to free agency, and for the second time this winter they’ve brought one back.

The A’s re-signed reliever Yusmeiro Petit, reports Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, still pending a physical. It’s a one-year contract for $2.55 million plus incentives, adds Ben Ross.

This will be Petit’s fourth season wearing green and gold, after he played out a two-year deal with a club option from 2018-20. He was reliably strong throughout that tenure in Oakland, providing a steady presence and heavy workload in the bullpen and serving as a late-inning setup man. He didn’t record any saves, but did convert 53 holds with only four leads blown for a sparkling 93% success rate.

Petit, 2018-20: 2.73 ERA, 197⅔ ip, 164 Ks, 33 BB, 27 HR, 3.80 FIP, .292 xwOBA

He also kept inherited runners in check, with a slightly better than average 30% scoring rate in extremely high volume. That mark was even better over just the past two seasons, at 24% of inherited runner scoring (league is around 32%).

The right-hander doesn’t throw hard, with his already modest fastball dipping down a tick to 88 mph last summer, but he consistently gets results. In addition to his four-seamer, he also throws a cutter, changeup, and curveball as part of a wide arsenal for a reliever.

The A’s bullpen, which began the offseason decimated by free agency, has suddenly come together over the past week. Among the top names joining holdovers Jake Diekman, J.B. Wendelken, and Lou Trivino are trade acquisitions Adam Kolarek and Nik Turley, now Petit, and also free agent Sergio Romo who signed a one-year contract on Sunday as well, reports Rosenthal. That’s all in addition to several more promising candidates and prospects, like Jordan Weems, Burch Smith, and Rule 5 draft pick Dany Jimenez, among others.

Analysis

Love it. The pitching staff had upside but needed to mix in some reliability without spending too much. The rotation got it by re-signing Mike Fiers, and now the bullpen got it by re-signing Petit at a reasonable salary.

Petit can fit whatever role you need in the pen, and entering age 36 there’s no reason he can’t have more in the tank, especially since he doesn’t rely on velocity in any way. He’s been nothing but effective for the last four years, and five of the last six, and the other year he was still OK. No reliever is perfectly reliable, but this is as close as you can get.

That extends to his health as well. The last time Petit went on an injured list was 2013 in the minors, and at the MLB level it was 2009. One day Father Time will come calling, but that phone has been off the hook for a long time now.

Until further notice, Petit is going to give you lots of innings and they’re going to be pretty good ones. It’s as simple as that. After all, he was part of the setup crew of the best pen in the majors last year.

The Khris Davis trade gave the A’s a little bit of extra money to spend, but not enough to make any kind of serious impact move. Instead, they’ve used it to shore up the floor of their roster with some veteran workhorse pitchers, including two who have been in Oakland for several years apiece. It might not seem exciting at first glance, but for a contending squad that already has its star power, that’s a shrewd way to use some limited resources. It’s also nice to see the A’s keep a couple free agents, just from an emotional perspective.

Fiers isn’t going to start Game 1 of a playoff series, and Petit isn’t going to close out the 9th inning in October. But they’re probably going to put in lots of quality work for six months that’s going to help the A’s get there, and now a couple fewer question marks need to go right for the otherwise inexperienced pitching staff to put together enough innings this summer.