A’s sign Sean Doolittle to long-term extension

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Left-hander Sean Doolittle and the A’s have agreed to a long-term contract that runs through at least 2018, with team options for 2019 and 2020.

Doolittle is making the minimum salary this season and was already under team control through 2018, so essentially the A’s pre-paid for his arbitration seasons and in return got cost certainty plus the right to buy out his first two years of free agency.

A converted position player, Doolittle has been one of the league’s best relievers since debuting in 2012 at age 25, throwing 125 innings with a 3.10 ERA and 129/24 K/BB ratio. He throws strikes and misses tons of bats, and the southpaw has actually been more effective versus righties than lefties.

Now that they don’t have to worry about huge arbitration demands it’ll be interesting to see if the A’s are more willing to give Doolittle a crack at the closer job at some point.

J.D. Martinez tells teams he prefers an outfield role

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Free agent outfielder/slugger J.D. Martinez is reportedly seeking an outfield gig, says Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. According to Silverman’s sources, Martinez’s suitors have been informed that the veteran slugger would give preference to teams that can offer a corner outfield spot, rather than a DH-only role.

That could spell trouble for the Red Sox, who appear to be Martinez’s biggest suitors so far this offseason. Outfielders Mookie Betts and Andrew Benintendi are firmly established at the corners, and prior reports from club president Dave Dombrowski suggest that center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. is not going anywhere anytime soon (thereby eliminating the possibility of reshuffling the outfield). The DH spot is still wide open for Martinez, who doesn’t seem to be totally closed off to the idea, but any full-time or part-time role on the field is likely off the table at this point.

Of course, the Red Sox aren’t the only ones pursuing Martinez’s services this winter. The 30-year-old slugger has been linked to both the Diamondbacks and Giants in weeks past, and while they have the roster flexibility to accommodate his preferences, they’ll need to clear another massive hurdle: the seven-year, $250 million contract he’s said to be seeking. Both clubs will need to get creative to make such a deal work. The Diamondbacks are rumored to be shopping right-hander Zack Greinke in an attempt to free up some room on their payroll for Martinez, while the Giants appear more inclined to scour the trade market for outfield help than shell out cash for another hefty contract in free agency.