- Associated Press - Sunday, December 6, 2015

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Athletics filled a key need a day before the start of baseball’s winter meetings, agreeing to a $22 million, three-year contract with free-agent reliever Ryan Madson, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said.

The person spoke Sunday on condition of anonymity because a physical was still needed to finalize the deal. In Madson, the club has found another proven pitcher for a bullpen that had an American League-worst 4.63 ERA last season for a team that lost 35 one-run games - and the veteran gets to play in his home state of California.

“Arms are still a priority for us,” A’s general manager David Forst said this past week ahead of the winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee. “There are some other conversations that have unfolded. … There’s going to be plenty of conversation unfolding over the next 10 days as we get into Nashville.”

Madson went 1-2 with a 2.13 ERA in 68 outings and 63 1-3 innings for the World Series champion Kansas City Royals this past season. This year marked his first in the American League following nine seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies.

The 35-year-old right-hander fills a big need in Oakland’s bullpen, which dealt with key injuries last season, including to closer Sean Doolittle. In a Wednesday trade with San Diego, the A’s acquired reliever Marc Rzepczynski, who later that night agreed to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.

Rzepczynski began the 2015 season with Cleveland and was 2-3 with a 4.43 ERA in 45 games when he was traded to San Diego on July 31. He compiled a 7.36 ERA in 27 games with the Padres and combined for a 5.66 ERA in 72 games overall.

Oakland was last in the AL West at 68-94, and the bullpen ranked 28th overall ahead of Atlanta and Colorado.

Last month, the A’s - who missed the playoffs after three straight appearances - signed left-hander Rich Hill to a $6 million, one-year deal to boost the rotation behind ace Sonny Gray.

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