While the big names hitting baseball's free agency market are major league free agents, minor leaguers with at least six years of service time are also free to sign with any team. Twenty-four of the Oakland A's minor league players are now free agents. We take a look at those players below:
Archie Gilbert: Gilbert was originally signed by the A's as a minor league free agent before the 2008 season. Since then, he has been a free agent each off-season and has returned to the organization each time. The East Bay native has earned two league titles (2008 with Stockton and 2009 with Midland) during his three years in the A's chain and has stolen at least 28 bases each season. In 2010, Gilbert hit .247 with a career-high 11 homeruns in his second season with Midland. In six minor league seasons, Gilbert has a .364 OBP and a 764 OPS.
Ryan Edell: Edell was acquired by the A's from the Cleveland organization in May and he spent the rest of the season with Double-A Midland, where he was arguably the Rockhounds' top starter. In 125 innings for Midland, the lefty had a 3.17 ERA and a 10-4 record. He should have no trouble finding a team for 2011.
Tom Everidge: The longtime A's farmhand was claimed off of waivers from the A's by the Seattle Mariners before the 2010 season. Everidge would spent half of the '10 season in the Mariners chain before being traded to the Houston Astros. After being released by Houston in July, Everidge was out of affiliated baseball until the final week of the regular season, when the A's brought him back to bolster the Triple-A Sacramento line-up. Everidge hit only .249 with 13 homers in 2010, but he hit .335 with 20 homers in 107 minor league games in 2009 and has some major league experience, so he should find a home in 2011.
J.C. Holt: Like Edell, Holt was acquired by the A's mid-season when injuries thinned Oakland's minor league ranks. The former Atlanta Braves farmhand appeared in 51 games for the Midland Rockhounds in 2010, batting .229 with a 549 OPS. Holt fared much better in 2009, when he hit .282 with Triple-A Gwinnett. Holt was a third-round pick of the Braves in 2004 out of LSU.
Kristian Bell: Bell was one of two pitchers acquired by the A’s in the deal with the Toronto Blue Jays for Marco Scutaro before the 2008 season. While the other pitcher in the deal – Graham Godfrey – has experienced success since that trade, Bell never got on track in his three seasons in the Oakland organization. In 2008, he had a 8.85 ERA in 20.1 innings for High-A Stockton and Double-A Midland and in 2009, he had a 7.53 mark for the same two teams in 34.2 innings. Bell missed the entire 2010 season with injury. He was a fourth-round pick of the Blue Jays in 2004.
Josue Selenes: Selenes, a native of the Dominican Republic, also missed the entire 2010 season with injury. The right-hander was acquired by the A’s before the 2009 season in the minor league Rule 5 draft from the New York Yankees. He pitched the entire 2009 season with the Low-A Kane County Cougars, for whom he had a 3.34 ERA in 56.2 innings. The 25 year old has never pitched above the High-A level.
Marcos Luis: Luis, an infielder, has been part of the A’s organization since January 2004, when he signed as an international free agent. The Dominican never advanced past the short-season A level with the A’s. In 2010, he appeared in 15 games with the short-season Vancouver Canadians, batting .205 in 39 at-bats. He hit .280 in 93 at-bats for Vancouver in 2009. His best season came in 2007 when he hit .298 with a 755 OPS for the A’s Rookie League team in Arizona.
Gabriel Ortiz: Ortiz, like Luis, has spent his entire professional career in the A’s chain. The native of the Dominican Republic spent the entire 2010 season with Double-A Midland, serving as a back-up catcher. In 115 at-bats, he hit .226 with a homer and a 567 OPS. Ortiz played at three levels (short-season A, High-A and Double-A) in 2009, when he hit .261 with a 643 OPS in 165 at-bats. The backstop is 25 years old.
Adam Heether: Heether spent a portion of the 2010 season on the A’s 40-man roster after he was claimed off of waivers by the A’s from the Milwaukee Brewers organization in June. He was later designated for assignment by the A's and remained in the organization as a non-roster player. Heether spent the entire season at the Triple-A level, hitting a combined .237 with 10 homers and a 737 OPS in 329 at-bats for Sacramento and Nashville. The third-baseman/outfielder missed the final three weeks of the regular season with injury. He had a big season in the Milwaukee chain in 2009, batting .296 with 18 homers and a 902 OPS.
Brandon Pinckney: The native of Sacramento was another mid-season acquisition by the A’s. Pinckney joined the High-A Stockton Ports in June, but the infielder appeared in only 24 games over the final three months of the season. He hit well when given the opportunity, batting .320 with an 864 OPS in 75 at-bats. Pinckney was the Indians 12th round pick in 2003, but he has jumped around since 2009, playing for the Baltimore and Philadelphia chains before landing with the A’s.
Fernando Hernandez: Hernandez was one of the A’s minor league free agent signings before the 2010 season. The reliever was a workhorse for Triple-A Sacramento, pitching 77.1 innings. He had a disappointing 4.77 ERA, but he pitched very well at times for the River Cats and should garner interest on the free agent market. He had a 1.68 ERA in 69.2 innings in the White Sox chain in 2009. Hernandez was a Rule 5 pick of the A's in 2008 and made his major league debut with Oakland that April, but was returned to the White Sox early that season. The 26-year-old is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League.
Alexander Valdez: Valdez, an international free agent signing by the A’s in 2003, has been a solid prospect for the A’s for several years now, but has never broken through thanks to an undisciplined approach at the plate. Still, there is a lot to like about the switch-hitting infielder, who batted .262 with 13 homers and 74 RBIs for Double-A Midland in 2010. Valdez can hit for power, has decent speed and can play the middle infield spots as well as third base. He was a minor league free agent last off-season but chose to re-sign with the A’s. He should receive a lot of interest on the free agent market this year. Valdez is currently playing in the Dominican Winter League, where he is the reigning Rookie of the Year.
Jose Pina: Pina was signed by the A’s as a minor league free agent last off-season and he spent the 2010 season split between Low-A Kane County and High-A Stockton. In 70.1 relief innings, he had a 5.76 ERA with 74 strike-outs. Before signing with the A’s last season, Pina had spent his entire career in the Chicago Cubs’ chain.
Val Majewski: Majewski was once a top prospect in the Baltimore Orioles chain and he has spent the past few seasons working his way into affiliated baseball by starting the season in independent ball. The A’s signed him out of the independent leagues in May and he spent the rest of the season with Double-A Midland. The outfielder had a .262 average with nine homers and a 752 OPS in 302 at-bats for the Rockhounds. Majewski was a third-round pick of the O’s in 2002.
Marcus McBeth: McBeth was a minor league free agent signing of the A’s last off-season after spending the 2009 and part of the 2008 season in the Boston Red Sox chain. McBeth struggled with injuries throughout the 2010 season and he appeared in only 14 games for Triple-A Sacramento, posting a 6.46 ERA in 15.1 innings. McBeth was originally a fourth-round pick of the A’s in 2001 as an outfielder. He converted to pitching in 2005 and was in the major leagues by 2007, when he debuted with the Cincinnati Reds (he was traded by the A’s to the Reds in the Chris Denorfia deal).
Lenny DiNardo: Like Hernandez and McBeth, DiNardo signed with the A’s as a minor league free agent before the 2010 season having had a history with the Oakland organization. DiNardo spent much of the 2007 and 2008 seasons on the A’s major league staff and he also spent time in 2008 with Triple-A Sacramento. DiNardo spent most of the 2010 season with Sacramento, for whom he pitched well (3.40 ERA in 47.2 innings) in a starting role. The left-hander missed a significant portion of the season with an arm injury, however, although he did return at the end of the season. If healthy, he should have no trouble finding an organization to sign with.
Dallas McPherson: Not too long ago, McPherson was one of the brightest prospects in baseball and was considered the long-term solution for the Angels at third base. A bad back derailed McPherson’s path to stardom, however, and he has moved from organization to organization the past few seasons. In 2010, he battled leg injuries, but appeared in 84 games for Triple-A Sacramento, hitting 22 homers and posting an 880 OPS. He had 42 homers in 127 games for Triple-A Albuquerque in 2008, but missed the entire 2009 season with injury. Like DiNardo, McPherson will have no trouble finding suitors if he is healthy.
Edwar Ramirez: After spending the 2007-2009 seasons on the Yankees’ 40-man roster, Ramirez was released by New York during spring training, only to be claimed by the Texas Rangers, released again and claimed by the A’s. The right-handed reliever made seven appearances for the A’s at the major league level, allowing six runs in 11 innings before he was designated for assignment by Oakland. He cleared waivers this time around and stayed in the A’s chain for the remainder of the season. Pitching for Triple-A Sacramento, Ramirez had a 3.62 ERA in 49.2 innings. He has struggled with his command at the major league level the past two seasons, but given his overall major league experience, Ramirez should be a popular commodity during the free agency period.
Matt Wright: Wright was signed as a minor league free agent by the A’s last off-season and was invited to big league camp. After being re-assigned to minor league camp, Wright asked for his release to pursue an opportunity in the Korean professional league. An injury cost Wright his opportunity to play in Korea and he returned to the A’s in June. He spent the rest of the season with Double-A Midland and pitched well for the Rockhounds, going 7-3 with a 3.20 ERA in 78.2 innings. Wright was the Atlanta Braves' 21st-round pick in 2000 and has a lot of Triple-A experience.
Jared Price: When the A’s lost Josh Donaldson and Anthony Recker to injuries in August, the team acquired Price from the Chicago White Sox to give Triple-A Sacramento some depth behind the plate. He appeared in 20 games for the River Cats, hitting .167 with two homers in 54 at-bats. He also had one appearance for Double-A Midland, collecting a hit in four at-bats. Originally a seventh-round pick of the Dodgers in 2000, Price spent three years in the White Sox chain after signing as a minor league free agent before the 2008 campaign.
Kyle Middleton: Over the past few years, the A’s have been one of the most active teams in terms of scouting and signing players out of the independent leagues. One of those signings was Middleton, who joined the A’s from the independent leagues in 2009. He starred for Midland in 2009, posting a 2.69 ERA in nine starts and re-signed with the A’s during the off-season. Middleton spent the entire 2010 season with Triple-A Sacramento and pitched well, posting a 3.77 ERA in 102.2 innings. Unfortunately, he developed right shoulder soreness in early August and missed the rest of the season. His health will likely dictate whether he finds a job on the open market.
Matt Watson: Watson’s return to the A’s organization in 2010 was one of the most intriguing stories of the season. A member of the A’s system from 2004-2006, Watson was signed by the A’s out of the independent leagues in late May when injuries cut into Oakland’s outfield depth. He played so well with Triple-A Sacramento that he was called up to Oakland and appeared in 12 games for the A’s, collecting his first major league homerun along the way. Unfortunately, a bout with kidney stones landed Watson on the DL and he was designated for assignment when he was activated from the disabled list. He remained with the River Cats after clearing waivers and wound-up hitting .288 with nine homers in 37 games for Sacramento. Watson had considered coaching before getting his opportunity with Oakland, so he may decide to go that route this off-season. If not, he should find a landing place with a team looking for a veteran presence and outfield depth at Triple-A.
Jason Jennings: The former National League Rookie of the Year signed with the A’s as a minor league free agent just before spring training and he was expected to compete for a big league bullpen spot. That never materialized. Jennings has had numerous elbow problems throughout his career and he was limited to only 22 innings between the A’s Rookie League team and Triple-A Sacramento. Jennings allowed nine runs in 13 innings for the River Cats. His health will always been an issue, but given Jennings’ major league track record, he figures to get plenty of interest this off-season.
Brett Tomko: Tomko was signed as a minor league free agent by the A’s during the 2009 season and he worked his way onto the A’s major league roster before season’s end. He pitched well for Oakland, posting a 3.77 ERA in 57.1 innings. However, he developed a nerve problem in his pitching elbow at the end of the 2009 season. He re-signed with Oakland for the 2010 campaign and rehabbed for the first part of the year, joining the Rookie League A’s mid-season. He would make 14 starts for the AZL A’s, the High-A Stockton Ports and the Triple-A Sacramento River Cats. He was mostly ineffective, posting a 7.18 ERA in 62.2 innings. He struck-out 50 and walked only 16, but he gave-up 17 homers. Tomko will turn 38 in April of next season.