The Oakland A's signed left-handed reliever Sean Doolittle to a five-year contract extension on Friday, the team announced. A converted first baseman who reached as high as Triple-A as a position player, Doolittle has achieved great success out of the Oakland bullpen since first appearing in the majors in 2012, putting together a 3.10 ERA in 125 career innings, along with a 0.99 WHIP and 129 strikeouts.
Serving primarily as a setup man, Doolittle has proven to be a valuable asset out of the 'pen for Bob Melvin's club during the past few seasons. One of the left-hander's greatest assets is his ability to appear for an entire inning, instead of being limited to facing left-handed batters, as is often the case with left-handed relief pitchers.
Despite his success, however, a five-year extension is a rather unprecedented deal for a reliever with hardly a year of major league service time. As Athletics Nation's Alex Hall writes, the extension is especially unusual for A's general manager Bill Beane, with historical precedent suggesting that Beane generally shies away from long-term extensions to even his best relievers: