Athletics

A's officially agree to two-year contract with Santiago Casilla

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A's officially agree to two-year contract with Santiago Casilla

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Oakland A’s agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Santiago Casilla on a two-year contract through the 2018 season, the club announced today.  To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, the A’s designated outfielder Brett Eibner for assignment.  The A’s also announced that they agreed to terms with left-handed pitcher Ross Detwiler and outfielder Alejandro De Aza on minor league contracts with an invite to spring training.

Casilla went 2-5 with 31 saves, a 3.57 ERA and .235 opponents batting average in 62 relief appearances with San Francisco last year.  He ranked sixth in the National League in saves but had nine blown saves, which tied for the most in the majors.  The 36-year-old right-hander struck out a career-high 65 batters in 58.0 innings.  He walked just 19 average his average of 2.95 walks per nine innings was the second lowest mark of his career.  Casilla allowed just 1-of-18 (5.6%) inherited runners to score and held first batters faced to a .228 batting average and .267 on-base percentage.

Casilla returns to the Oakland organization as he was originally signed by the A’s as out of the Dominican Republic on January 31, 2000.  He made his Major League debut with Oakland in 2004 and was 6-4 with four saves and a 5.11 ERA in 152 relief appearances from 2004 to 2009.  Casilla was released following the 2009 season and spent the next seven seasons with the Giants.  He went 32-22 with 123 saves and a 2.42 ERA in 414 games with San Francisco.  Casilla saved a career-high 38 games in 2015 and he ranks sixth on the Giants career saves list.  The 13-year veteran is 38-26 with 127 saves and a 3.19 ERA in 566 career appearances.

Eibner began the 2016 season with Kansas City and hit .231 in 26 games over two stints with the Royals before he was traded to Oakland for Billy Burns on July 30.  He batted .165 in 44 games with the A’s and combined for a .193 batting average, six home runs and 22 RBI in 70 games in his Major League debut.

Detwiler was acquired by the A’s from Cleveland in a minor league deal July 17 and combined for a 2-4 record and a 6.10 ERA in 16 games, including seven starts.  He was also 6-4 with a 4.40 ERA in 16 games, including 15 starts, with Triple-A Columbus and Nashville.  De Aza spent the entire 2016 season with the New York Mets and hit .205 with six home runs and 25 RBI in 130 games.  He is a .261 career hitter in 810 games in nine Major League seasons with Florida (2007, 09), Chicago-AL (2010-14), Baltimore (2014-15), Boston (2015), San Francisco (2015) and New York-NL (2016).

Oakland A's media services

Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

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Matt Olson optimistic A's can fill void at first base in his absence

OAKLAND – It really was a freak injury. One swing of the bat, a seemingly inconsequential foul ball.

But during Thursday's loss to the Seattle Mariners in Tokyo, Matt Olson knew right away something was wrong.

"I generally have a pretty high pain tolerance," the A's first baseman said Sunday. "I couldn't grip the bat when I came back (to the dugout) so I knew something was up."

It turned out Olson had fractured the hamate bone in his right hand. He underwent hamate excision surgery Friday in Los Angeles, and will be out indefinitely.

"It sucks," Olson admitted. "The timing of it is good and bad. Good because I get five or six days here to get ahead, but it sucks because it's the beginning of the year and you work all offseason to get to this point."

A's manager Bob Melvin added: "There are certain guys who you feel like are a little more replaceable than others. He's a tough one. ... He makes everybody in the infield better. All you've got to do is get it over in his direction. He's got a wide wingspan and he picks everything out of the dirt.

"It's tough not having him out there, but that's why we have a Mark Canha, a (Jurickson) Profar, and a Chad Pinder. It gives somebody else an opportunity."

Olson was not given a timetable for his return, but he noted a wide variance in other players with the same injury, anywhere from four to eight weeks. While he's obviously disappointed, he believes the team can survive without him.

"We've got guys -- Canha, Pinder, (Franklin) Barreto, and Profar -- all of those guys are very established and have good at-bats," Olson said. "They're guys who are going to get more at-bats because of it. I don't think it's a bad thing. It sucks for me, but I'm glad these guys are going to get a little more regular playing time."

[RELATED: A's have options at first base in light of Olson injury]

Although he hasn't missed any games yet, Olson joked he has already experienced the effects of sporting a cast on his right hand in his everyday life.

"I had to go to the store today to get stuff for my apartment. I got a ton of stuff. Then I got to the apartment complex, and thought I was going to have to make like five trips because I can only carry things with one hand," he laughed.

As Olson adjusts to life with just one functional hand, the A's must adjust to life without Olson's powerful bat in the lineup and his slick glove in the field. In both cases, it will be a difficult process.

Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

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Five free agent starting pitchers still available for A's to target

It's no secret the A's could use some starting pitching help.

The problem became more dire this week when the team announced talented left-hander Jesús Luzardo would be shut down for four to six weeks with a rotator cuff strain.

Though the season is already underway, there are still several starting pitchers available on the free agent market. Former Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel tops the list, but don't expect the A's to throw massive money his way.

Instead, Oakland may choose to pursue one of these five starters:

Edwin Jackson

Jackson certainly makes the most sense of anyone. The 35-year-old right-hander was the most pleasant of surprises last season. Jackson went 6-3 with a 3.33 ERA in 17 starts and was a key part of the A's clubhouse chemistry.

The two sides have been in contact for much of the offseason but have not been able to come to terms on a deal. That could change now that Jackson and the A's both figure to be a little more desperate.

James Shields 

At the age of 37, Shields is obviously nearing the end of his career, but he figures to get a shot somewhere in the league. The former All-Star went just 7-16 with a 4.53 ERA last season with the White Sox but did pitch over 200 innings.

Shields has a career ERA of 4.01 in 13 seasons. The right-hander would likely fair better on a team like Oakland, especially playing his home games at the pitcher-friendly Coliseum.

Miguel González

González is coming off season-ending rotator cuff surgery, but at just 34 years old he has a chance to bounce back. The right-hander went 8-13 with a 4.62 ERA in 2017, his last full season, but recorded a solid 3.73 ERA the year before.

González has a career ERA of 4.06 in seven major league seasons and could be another pitcher who would benefit from the Coliseum. He will be available for cheap, making him a low-risk signing.

Yovani Gallardo

Gallardo has struggled the past few seasons, but at just 33 years old, he still has time to regain his form. The right-hander has a career ERA of 4.06 in 12 big league seasons.

Gallardo's last productive season came in 2015 with the Texas Rangers. The former All-Star finished that year 13-11 with a 3.42 ERA. Like González, he should be available for a low cost.

[RELATED: A's have options at first base after Olson injury]

Bartolo Colón

Yes, Big Sexy is still going strong at the age of 45. You've got to think someone will take a flier on the former Cy Young Award winner, who will be entering his 22nd major league season.

Colón has 247 career wins and a 4.12 ERA, though he struggled to a 5.78 ERA last season in Texas. But three years ago, the right-hander went 15-8 with a 3.43 ERA and made his fourth career All-Star Game.