OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Relief pitcher Santiago Casilla is crossing the bay again, re-joining the Oakland Athletics with a two-year contract Friday after seven seasons with San Francisco.
While the right-hander lost his job as closer last season for the Giants’ struggling bullpen, he provides A’s manager Bob Melvin with some options of when to use him. Casilla could be called upon to help handle ninth-inning duties along with regular closer Sean Doolittle, while Ryan Dull also could be in the mix.
“To be able to sign an experienced late-inning reliever who has performed in multiple World Series games makes our bullpen deeper and obviously better,” Melvin said by text message. “Great sign for us.”
Casilla has spent his entire big league career with the Bay Area teams; his initial six seasons were with Oakland.
He went 2-5 with a 3.57 ERA and 31 saves last season after posting a 4-2 mark record with a 2.79 ERA and a career-best 38 saves in 2015.
Left-hander Ross Detwiler and outfielder Alejandro De Aza agreed to minor league contracts with invitations to big league spring training. Outfielder Brett
Eibner was designated for assignment to clear roster room for Casilla.
When Casilla first came to the A’s in 2004, he went by the name of a friend — Jairo Garcia — then later shared in a lengthy interview in Spanish with The Associated Press his deep regrets over something he considered an act of desperation. At the time it seemed like the only way to achieve his dream of pitching in the major leagues. It wasn’t even his idea, though Casilla hasn’t said who suggested it.
The A’s didn’t know the hard-throwing pitcher they signed as a non-drafted free agent back in January 2000 wasn’t Jairo Garcia. Not until he finally decided to tell the team through his agent in 2005.
When he returned to the team in 2006 as Casilla, many wondered about the A’s new pitching prospect. But to his teammates, he was always Willie — his nickname since childhood.
He has long since moved on from that, and now will begin another new chapter in his career that already included three World Series rings — in 2010, ’12 and ’14 with the Giants.