With their 2019 campaign officially in the rearview mirror, the Athletics can get to work on offseason decisions. One of the choices they’ll have to make soon centers on right-hander Yusmeiro Petit’s future. The soon-to-be 35-year-old reliever has a $5.5MM club option for 2020, though he said after Wednesday’s wild-card loss to the Rays that he hasn’t heard whether the A’s will exercise it, per Martin Gallegos of MLB.com. But Petit wants to remain an Athletic, Gallegos writes, and he has definitely made a strong case to do just that.
Formerly a member of the Giants, Nationals and Angels, Petit joined the A’s for a two-year, $10MM guarantee in November 2017. He was coming off a career campaign with the Halos at that point, as he led all relievers in innings and notched a 2.76 ERA/2.85 FIP with 9.95 K/9 and 1.77 BB/9 across 91 1/3 frames.
Petit has continued his ways as an effective workhorse during his run in Oakland, where he has amassed another 176 innings of low-ERA ball (2.86). He’s now fresh off an 83-frame season in which he led the league in appearances (80) and logged a career-best 2.71 ERA with his highest swinging-strike rate (11.4 percent) since 2014.
The soft-throwing Petit benefited in 2019 from a .213 batting average on balls in play against and thrived despite a 29.9 percent groundball rate. As a result, there’s a certain amount of skepticism in regards to his stingy run prevention, with ERA indicators FIP (3.59), xFIP (4.48) and SIERA (3.90) painting a gloomier picture. However, it’s worth noting Petit greatly aided his cause by doling out few free passes and limiting damaging contact. Petit walked a meager 1.08 hitters per nine, which helped him overcome a below-average strikeout rate (7.7 K/9). Plus, according to Statcast, Petit ranked in the majors’ 83rd percentile in average exit velocity against (86.6 mph) and its 91st percentile in expected weighted on-base average (.264, compared to the actual .243 wOBA hitters mustered off him).
Although the A’s are regularly one of the majors’ lowest-payroll teams, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them retain Petit for what looks like a reasonable salary. They’ll officially decide what to do with him, not to mention fellow established veteran relievers Jake Diekman (mutual option) and Blake Treinen (non-tender or trade possibility), in the approaching weeks.