A's Re-Sign Carson, Blackley
With the minor league free agency period just days away, the Oakland A's have come to terms with two of their potential free agents: outfielder Matt Carson and pitcher Travis Blackley. The organization will have exclusive negotiating rights with their free agents until Saturday.
Carson was actually on the A's 40-man roster until this week, when the organization dropped him from the roster. Carson elected to re-sign with the A's on a minor league contract and the team announced that he would be a non-roster invitee to spring training.
This is the same way that Carson began his 2009 off-season, as the A's cut him from the 40-man roster and brought him back as a minor league free agent with a non-roster invite to spring training. The arrangement worked out well for Carson, who was re-added to the A's 40-man roster in late April and spent more than a third of the regular season on the A's 25-man roster. He hit .177 with four homers in 79 major league at-bats.
When he wasn't with Oakland, Carson was one of the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats' top hitters. In 64 games with Sacramento, he hit .303 with 13 homers and a 930 OPS. He also stole 13 bases in 17 chances. It was Carson's second year in the A's organization after spending his first eight professional seasons in the New York Yankees chain.
Blackley was acquired during the 2010 season. He began the season pitching in Triple-A for the New York Mets and in the Mexican Summer League before latching on with the A's in mid-May. He spent the rest of the season with the River Cats and made 15 appearances, four starts. He also spent two months on the disabled list after having bone chips removed from his pitching elbow. The lefty had a 2.52 ERA and 35 strike-outs in 35.2 innings for Sacramento. Before landing on the DL, his ERA was 1.63 in 27.2 innings.
Blackley is currently pitching for the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican Winter League. In four starts, he has a 3-1 record and a 2.96 ERA with a 20:8 K:BB ratio in 24.1 innings.
A's Begin Shaping Roster
In addition to Carson, the A's have removed 11 players from the 40-man roster since the end of the regular season: Akinori Iwamura, Jeremy Hermida, Brad Kilby, Ross Wolf, Gabe Gross, Jeff Larish, Jonathan Meloan, Cedrick Bowers, Justin Souza, Justin James and Boof Bonser. Kilby, Meloan and Souza remain in the organization as non-roster players, James was claimed off of waivers by the Kansas City Royals and the rest have opted for free agency. Ben Sheets and Justin Duchscherer are also no longer on the A's active roster, as both are eligible for free agency.
As of Tuesday, the A's have 36 players on their 40-man roster. The team will be looking to make room on the roster for potential major league free agent signings, as well as players within their minor league system who will need to be protected from the Rule 5 draft. Some of the A's prospects eligible for the Rule 5 this year include Corey Brown, Adrian Cardenas, Sean Doolittle, James Simmons, Andrew Carignan and Josh Horton.
Ron Romanick Named Pitching Coach
The A's filled one coaching vacancy on their major league staff and opened another one on Monday when they named Ron Romanick as the new pitching coach. Romanick replaces Curt Young, who was announced as the Boston Red Sox's new pitching coach on Tuesday. Romanick had been serving as the A's bullpen coach.
Before joining Bob Geren's staff as the A's bullpen coach in 2008, Romanick was the A's minor league pitching coordinator for nearly a decade. Under his watch, the A's developed a slew of talented young pitchers, including Mark Mulder, Barry Zito, Rich Harden, Huston Street, Joe Blanton, Aaron Harang, among others.
The A's have also granted current minor league pitching coordinator Gil Patterson permission to interview for the vacant New York Yankees pitching coach slot. Patterson has a long history with the Yankees, having played for them in the 1970s and served as a rehab pitching coordinator in their minor league system earlier this decade. He has previous experience as a major league pitching coach with the Toronto Blue Jays.