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A's bring reliever Casilla back across the Bay

'Overlooked a little bit,' ex-SF closer signs 2-year, $11M deal with original team
MLB.com @JaneMLB

OAKLAND -- The A's have no shortage of closing options, having added yet another to their bullpen mix on Friday in veteran right-hander Santiago Casilla.

Casilla, who inked a two-year, $11 million contract, returns to the organization that signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2000. Since then, the 36-year-old has compiled 127 saves in the big leagues -- 123 of them with the Giants over the past seven seasons.

OAKLAND -- The A's have no shortage of closing options, having added yet another to their bullpen mix on Friday in veteran right-hander Santiago Casilla.

Casilla, who inked a two-year, $11 million contract, returns to the organization that signed him out of the Dominican Republic in 2000. Since then, the 36-year-old has compiled 127 saves in the big leagues -- 123 of them with the Giants over the past seven seasons.

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Casilla also blew nine saves with San Francisco last year, marking a disappointing ending to a mostly fruitful engagement with the Giants, who didn't offer him another contract at season's end. The A's, meanwhile, saw an opportunity across the Bay to bring in an experienced, hard-throwing arm.

"As we got through the offseason, I think we felt like he was being overlooked a little bit just because of some of the narratives surrounding his departure from the Giants," A's general manager David Forst said. "I wasn't there, and I don't know exactly what went on, but it seems like a few blown saves toward the end of the year kind of marred what was otherwise a fantastic season for him.

Video: SF@COL: Casilla pitches Parra into a double play

"When you look at the peripheral numbers and his stuff and command, and ultimately the strikeouts and the hits, there was no difference between his 2015 and '16, and he was considered one of the better closers in the game after 2015. It felt like a really good opportunity to bring in an accomplished pitcher to our bullpen."

Casilla struck out a career-high 65 batters, next to just 19 walks, in 58 innings in 2016, posting a 3.57 ERA with 31 saves. He said Friday he had other offers in hand, including one from the Brewers, but ultimately, the chance to reunite with the A's proved most attractive -- no matter his role.

Oakland's closer's role, to be settled in Spring Training, will likely be awarded to veteran Ryan Madson, who totaled 30 saves last year. That leaves manager Bob Melvin with a bevy of setup options, including Casilla, fellow right-handers Ryan Dull and John Axford, and lefty Sean Doolittle.

"The most important thing is working as a team and having the opportunity to win games," Casilla said through translator Manolo Hernandez Douen. "That's always been my mentality. Regardless of how I'm used, in my mind I'm just always trying to win games."

"I think there are a lot of great options for Bob and [pitching coach] Curt [Young]," Forst said. "We had a number of different guys save games last year. Obviously Ryan did the bulk of it, but Sean and Ax and Dull all chipped in, and Santiago has saved almost 80 games the last couple of years. He has a lot of experience, and when we talked to him and his representatives, he made it clear he was willing to do anything. It's great for Bob to have a number of options, and it'll sort itself out in Spring Training, who the guy is to start the season."

Casilla made his Major League debut with Oakland in 2004, making 152 relief appearances over parts of six seasons with the A's before being released and landing on the opposite side of the Bay Bridge. He had a 2.42 ERA in 414 games with the Giants, in addition to a 0.92 ERA in 25 postseason appearances for them.

"All of the experience is going to help me a lot," Casilla said. "The only important thing to me is to give 100 percent of what I have every day and help the Athletics to make the playoffs.

"There's an old saying that it's always good to return home, and I'm very happy to get this new opportunity."

Jane Lee is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Oakland Athletics, Santiago Casilla