A’s closer Sean Doolittle: “I have my mind set on pitching this year”

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Being without All-Star closer Sean Doolittle for all but one game this season is one of many things that have gone wrong for the A’s on the way to a 44-52 record, but Doolittle hasn’t given up hope of pitching again in 2015.

On the disabled list with a shoulder injury for the second time, Doolittle told Joe Stiglich of CSNBayArea.com:

I’ve been working so hard to get back. I have my mind set on pitching this year. Obviously we’re going to be smart with it. But it looks like there’s a really good chance I’ll be pitching this year.

Tyler Clippard has subbed for Doolittle in the closer role, but as an impending free agent the A’s may be looking to trade Clippard. If nothing else, Doolittle returning for some late-season appearances would give him and the A’s a little confidence heading into 2016 and perhaps even enough to label him as the closer again heading into the offseason.

Doolittle converted from first baseman to reliever and debuted for the A’s in 2012, first thriving as a setup man and then thriving as a closer. Overall he has a 2.95 ERA and 211/32 K/BB ratio in 180 innings, including an All-Star appearance last year.

Report: Angels and Anthony Rendon agree on seven-year, $245 million contract

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Another big free agent domino has fallen at the Winter Meetings in San Diego. Third baseman Anthony Rendon is signing with the Angels on seven-year, $245 million contract, per Jon Heyman.

Rendon, 29, was the top free agent position player. He’s coming off of a season in which he helped the Nationals win their first championship, batting .319/.412/.598 with a league-high 126 RBI and an NL-best 44 doubles along with 34 home runs and 117 runs scored in 646 plate appearances. Rendon also continued to play solid defense at third base. During the postseason, Rendon hit .328/.412/.590 with seven doubles, three homers, 15 RBI, and 11 runs scored in 75 trips to the plate.

The Angels badly needed to make a big free agent splash this offseason, and third base was as good a place as any to do it. Rendon will now slot easily into the middle of the Angels’ lineup along with Mike Trout. It remains to be seen if the Angels are done making moves, but they could use a corner outfielder and another starting pitcher.

Humorously, Rendon has said he’d like to retire by age 35, as Jesse Daugherty of the Washington Post alluded to on the Nationals Talk Podcast. This contract will take him through his age-36 season.