OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Mike Piazza finalized his $8.5 million, one-year contract with Oakland on Friday, giving the Athletics their new designated hitter.

The deal had been in the works for days and general manager Billy Beane was optimistic of getting something done by week’s end.

Piazza will move to the American League for the first time after 15 years as a catcher, a career that many believe will eventually earn him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Piazza replaces Frank Thomas as DH and will likely bat in the cleanup spot for the defending AL West champions.

The 38-year-old Piazza will be the No. 3 catcher for the A’s behind starter Jason Kendall and backup Adam Melhuse.

Piazza batted .283 with 22 home runs and 68 RBIs in 126 games this year for the NL West champion Padres, his lone season in San Diego after nearly eight years with the New York Mets.

Thomas agreed to an $18.12 million, two-year contract with the Toronto Blue Jays last month. The 38-year-old slugger batted .270 and led the A’s with 39 homers and 114 RBIs this year.

AP-ES-12-08-06 1913EST


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