Posted on December 3, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Oakland Athletics have been to the playoffs the last two seasons largely on the back of their bullpen. On Tuesday, they showed a commitment to keeping that bullpen together, reaching a two-year deal with lefty Jake Diekman. The A’s and Diekman agreed to a two-year deal worth $7.5 million with a club option for the 2022 season. The club previously declined the $5.75 million mutual option on his contract for 2020 but was able to work out a new deal with Diekman.
The 32-year-old Diekman came to Oakland last July in a trade with the Royals. The lefty has also had stints with the Phillies, Rangers, and Diamondbacks before signing with Kansas City last winter, only to get shipped to Oakland before the trade deadline. He ended up being a steady contributor out of the A’s bullpen during the second half of the season, making 28 appearances and recording 13 holds while posting a 4.43 ERA. Diekman also retired the only batter he faced in the American League Wild Card Game.
Control issues have plagued Diekman for much of his big league career. In fact, he had 16 unintentional walks in the 20.1 innings he threw for the A’s last season. However, he throws has hard as almost any lefty reliever in baseball and continues to strike out batters at a high rate. He has averaged over a strikeout per inning every year he’s pitched in the majors and owns a 3.90 career ERA. Diekman was also trusted to face both lefties and righties last season, making him an attractive option with MLB implementing a new rule next season that will force relievers to face at least three batters or finish an inning.
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Re-signing Diekman will give the A’s some stability in their bullpen after choosing not to tender contracts to Blake Treinen and Ryan Buchter earlier this week. With Buchter being let go, the A’s were in need of another lefty, helping open the door for a reunion with Diekman. Oakland also added lefty T.J. McFarland on waivers last month. Diekman and McFarland will give the A’s at least two lefties coming out of their bullpen next year.
Outside of Treinen and Buchter, the rest of Oakland’s bullpen figures to largely be the same next season. Liam Hendriks is likely to continue in the closer’s role after taking the job away from a struggling Treinen last year. The likes of Joakim Soria and Yusmeiro Petit also give the A’s a pair of veteran setup men in front of Hendriks. The club is also hopeful that Lou Trivino can regain the form he had in 2018 when he was a key figure in the bullpen. With Diekman and McFarland added to that group, Oakland should have a deep bullpen with no shortage of experience in 2020.
Obviously, re-signing Diekman isn’t going to move the needle all that much for the A’s. But keeping him around is a sign that Oakland is going to stick with what has worked for them, and that’s a dependable bullpen. In the end, Diekman is an important, albeit underrated part of the puzzle that will give Oakland a chance to compete for a playoff spot again in 2020.