OAKLAND -- Sean Doolittle isn't the A's closer right now, although he's part of the mix.
But if there is one thing a five-year contract with options that could keep him in Oakland until 2020 suggests, it's that the A's believe Doolittle will someday be their closer.
The club announced the deal Friday, signing him through the 2018 season with club options for 2019 and 2020. The hard-throwing left-hander would be 34 at the end if the contract and options play out in full.
Not bad for a converted first baseman who's only been doing this since 2011.
Doolittle said the A's first approached hiss agent in early March about the prospect of working on a long-term contract.
"It means everything that the organization thinks of you like that, that you're somebody that they want to keep around, they think that you can be a part of teams here for years to come," Doolittle said.
For the time being Doolittle is part of a floating closer's role, sharing time with Luke Gregerson mostly while closer Jim Johnson gets his game back. Johnson is expected to be the closer again in the not too distant future, but looking further out, the A's are showing signs of much faith in Doolittle as being the man.
Doolittle said taking into account the path he traveled to get to where he is today makes the new contract "really special to know that I'll be a part of this organization for a while."
"I saw the picture of me and my brother on bat day in 1990 making the rounds on twitter today, and it gave me goosebumps just thinking about that," he said. "Every time I come out for a stretch, I can see where we used to sit when I was a kid. This was my first exposure to baseball of any kind."
Doolittle has been at the core of the A's bullpen success for three seasons now, matching up with the best left-handed hitters in the game but fully capable of shutting down right-handed bats. He owns a 7-6 record and 3.10 ERA and a career WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) has been consistent since he stepped up and made his first appearance on June 5, 2012.
This year, with Johnson struggling, Doolittle has saved one game and owns a 3.12 ERA.
On the prospect of being the full-time closer at some point, Doolittle said: "Yeah, that was something that I've had to look into the future and use the crystal ball a little bit when I was thinking about some of the stuff that we were looking at, the length of it and everything like that, I hope so. Just for the simple fact that, every guy that's setting up games has aspirations to be a closer. Every hitter wants to be in the 3-4 hole. Every reliever wants to be the guy in a situation with the game on the line, trying to close it down. Hopefully at some point it will happen."
Doolittle would not have been eligible for salary arbitration until after the 2015 season.
Manager Bob Melvin said the long-term deal is "obviously, it's a good one for us and a good one for him. The durability that he has shown, he takes good care of himself, all the things that you look for in a guy that you want to get a long-term deal with, he does. ... To have a guy like that around for quite awhile is good news to everybody in our clubhouse."
Melvin said it's status quo for now with his bullpen situation. However, he said he likes Doolittle's versatility and the fact he has closed games in the past.
Staff writer Steve Corkran contributed to this report.