The Oakland A’s are bringing back three more of their free agents on minor league deals, reports Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle. LHP Felix Doubront, C Matt McBride, and RHP Aaron Kurcz are sticking with the organization for another season.
Doubront pitched for the A’s at the end of 2015, and was set to be be their fifth starter out of spring training in 2016. However, he went down in his final Cactus League start and had Tommy John surgery, costing him the whole year. The 29-year-old now has the chance to make his comeback in the green and gold. Check out Slusser’s story for more on his status, and quotes from the player.
McBride provides catching depth, as he did in 2016 when he made it into 20 games for Oakland, mostly as a backstop. The right-hander didn’t hit much in his limited time in MLB, but he held his own in Triple-A with a 108 wRC+ in 70 games. He can also play first base or the corner outfield positions, adding a bit of versatility to the mix.
The A’s catchers right now include Stephen Vogt (who might be on the trade block), Josh Phegley (who only played 28 games last year due to injury) and Bruce Maxwell (a rookie), and Melissa Lockard of Oakland Clubhouse notes that their top Triple-A option, Beau Taylor, will miss the first 50 games of the season due to a suspension. Furthermore, out of that whole group, Phegley is the only one who hits righty. McBride, who turns 32 next season, fits nicely into a big hole in the upper-minors depth chart.
Kurcz was acquired from the Braves in 2015 and spent last year in the A’s minor league system. In 35 games with Triple-A Nashville, he posted the following line: 3.50 ERA, 54 ip, 43 Ks, 17 BB, 2 HR. His strikeout rates were higher in past years, but so were his walk rates — check out Lockard’s article for more on Kurcz’s new strike-throwing approach, including a quote from A's Director of Player Development Keith Lieppman.
Lockard also points us toward another A’s signing, courtesy of MiLB Roster Tracker: RHP Tyler Sturdevant. He made his MLB debut last year for the Rays at age 30, with the following line: 16 games, 18⅓ innings, 14 Ks, 6 BB, 1 HR. In Triple-A, he has a career 4.09 ERA in 121 innings, with a strikeout per frame and three Ks per walk. Lockard notes Sturdevant’s five-pitch arsenal, highlighted by a fastball and cutter. He served a PED suspension in 2015. For more on the new hurler, check out Today’s Knuckleball.
Yet another minor league addition came down on Wednesday, as the A’s picked up OF Kenny Wilson, according to MiLB Roster Tracker. Wilson played in Oakland’s organization back in 2014, with Double-A Midland and The Former Triple-A Affiliate That Shan’t Be Named. Last season, at age 26, the right-hander played in Miami’s system, hitting great in Double-A and terribly in Triple-A. But he plays CF! Welcome aboard.
One last hat tip to Lockard, who compiled this list of the minor league free agents the A’s have brought back this offseason (I’ve added some notes about each):
- RHP Chris Smith: A pleasant surprise last year at age 35, with the following line in 13 games for the A’s: 2.92 ERA, 24⅔ ip, 29 Ks, 13 BB, 2 HR
- LHP Felix Doubront
- C/1B/OF Matt McBride
- OF Andrew Lambo: Got one at-bat for Oakland last year, was later diagnosed with cancer, but has recovered and is cleared to play; 28-year-old provides lefty power
- RHP Carlos Navas: 24-year-old reliever, 11 K/9 last year High-A, currently dominating in Venezuelan League
- RHP Ryan Brazier: Solid reliever last year for Triple-A Nashville
- RHP Aaron Kurcz
- UTIL Josh Rodriguez: Played every position except catcher last year between Midland and Nashville, including a pitching appearance for Nashville
- 1B Viosergy Rosa: Postseason hero for Double-A Midland
- LHP Brandon Mann: Started mostly for Double-A Midland last year, after a PED suspension