SACRAMENTO -- Dan Straily is seeing the early success of his former River Cats roommate A.J. Griffin with the A's, and he knows he could be just around the corner from joining him. The right-handed pitcher appears to be a good find for the A's. He was drafted by Oakland in the 24th round of the 2009 First-Year Player Draft.Straily was promoted from Double-A Midland -- where he was selected as a Texas League Mid-Season All-Star this year -- to Sacramento on June 21. He has made two starts for the River Cats totaling 13 innings, with just two earned runs, 16 strikeouts and five walks. He had a 3.38 ERA with Midland this season, and was 3-4 with 108 strikeouts and 23 walks at the time of his promotion.He hasn't been with Sacramento long, but he has already made a strong impression on his coaches."He has big league stuff without a doubt," River Cats pitching coach Scott Emerson said. "The guy has got four weapons that are major league caliber."Straily, 23, is listed at six-foot-two, 220-pounds but he doesn't look that big. What is large is his repertoire on the mound and his potential."When he's got his good fastball command going, the sky is the limit for this guy," Emerson said. "He's got a really good top-to-bottom curveball, late slider, and a devastating changeup."The River Cats coaches believe it is just a matter of getting him experience before he could be ready for the big leagues. He appears to be well on the way."So far, so good," River Cats manager Darren Bush said. "He is aggressive, he attacks the hitters, he's got a good pitch mix, so that's good."Straily may be able to join his good friend Griffin again some time in the near future -- this time in the big leagues.
Kurt Suzuki is headed back to the National League.
After three seasons in the American League with the Twins, the former A's backstop has reportedly agreed to a one-year deal with the Braves.
News of the agreement was first reported by SB Nation.
Suzuki will reportedly make $1.5 million, according to Fox Sports. He has a chance to make an addition $2.5 million in incentives.
The 33-year-old Suzuki was drafted by the A's in the second round of 2004 MLB Draft. He made his debut with Oakland in 2007 and was the starting catcher until a 2012 trade to Washington. A year later, the Nationals traded Suzuki back to the A's for the final five weeks of the season.
Prior to the 2014 season, Suzuki signed with Twins. In three seasons with Minnesota, Suzuki hit .263/.316/.364 with 75 doubles, 16 home runs and 160 RBI.
Suzuki will likely serve as a back-up to catcher Tyler Flowers.
Braves sign catcher Kurt Suzuki, source tells SB Nation.— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) January 21, 2017
Source: Suzuki contract with #Braves will be one-year, major-league deal.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 21, 2017
Source: Suzuki deal with #Braves will be one year, $1.5M with $2.5M in incentives.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 21, 2017
Santiago Casilla says he’s returning to his baseball home, which requires only a trip across the Bay Bridge.
The A’s finalized a two-year $11 million contract with the former Giants closer Friday, adding him to a bullpen that has no shortage of late-inning relief options for manager Bob Melvin.
“There’s an old saying that it’s always good to return home, and I’m very happy to get this new opportunity with the Athletics,” Casilla said on a media conference call, via interpreter Manolo Hernandez Douen.
It’s “new” in that the 36-year-old Casilla spent the past seven seasons wearing black and orange. But his major league career is rooted in Oakland. The A’s signed him out of the Dominican Republic as an amateur free agent back in 2000, and he spent his first six seasons with Oakland, the first two of those pitching under the name Jairo Garcia.
He’s since won three World Series rings with the Giants, including notching four saves during the 2014 postseason. His final season with San Francisco ended on a sour note last year, however, as he was demoted from the closer’s role during a rough September.
What role will he find in 2017?
Casilla, who reportedly can earn up to $3 million in incentives based on games finished, joins three other relievers in the A’s ‘pen who have legitimate big league closer’s experience — John Axford, Sean Doolittle and Ryan Madson. Doolittle was the closer entering last spring but shoulder problems derailed him for a second consecutive season. Madson handled the ninth for most of 2016 and notched 30 saves, but general manager David Forst made it clear Friday that the Opening Night closer has yet to be determined.
“We had a number of different guys save games last year,” Forst said. “… Santiago saved almost 80 games the last couple years. He’s got a lot of experience. As we talked to him and his representatives, he made it clear he’s willing to do anything. It’s great for Bob to have a number of options. It’ll sort itself out in spring training as to who the guy is to start the season.”
Doolittle, Axford, Ryan Dull and Zach Neal combined for 12 saves last season. But even though the A’s are fully stocked with ninth-inning options, it’s fair to question whether any of them is a clear-cut answer for the closer’s role as spring training nears.
Madson’s seven blown saves tied for second most in the American League. Doolittle hasn’t pitched a full season since 2014. Axford issued 4.11 walks per nine innings last year, and Dull’s biggest strength is his ability escape jams when entering mid-inning.
Casilla went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season, striking out a career-best 10.1 per nine innings, but there was some turbulence. He was displeased with Giants manager Bruce Bochy last May after being pulled from a game. Then he struggled mightily in September and lost the closer’s role. Bochy didn’t call on him at all as the bullpen coughed up a ninth-inning lead to the Cubs in Game 4 of the NL Division Series that ended the Giants’ season. That decision had Casilla in tears after the game.
Asked Friday if he harbored any hard feelings toward the Giants, Casilla replied: “It’s a new year, a new team. I have left this in the past.”
Forst pointed to Casilla’s sustained velocity — his fastball averaged 93.6 miles per hour last season — and his expanded repertoire over his career as reasons why the A’s went after him.
“His numbers were really good — 65 strikeouts, 19 walks,” Forst said. “As we got through the offseason I think we thought he was being overlooked a little bit just because of the narrative surrounding his departure with the Giants. I wasn’t around and I don’t know what went on, but it seems like a few blown saves marred what otherwise was a fantastic season for him.”
In other news, the A’s signed veteran outfielder Alejandro De Aza to a minor league deal with an invitation to major league spring training. Forst noted De Aza’s ability to play all three outfield spots and his speed as traits that caught the A’s attention.