A's Ink Paz-Garriga
The Oakland A's came to terms with catcher Andy Paz-Garriga this week, according to Dan Kantrovitz, the A's Coordinator of International Operations. Paz-Garriga is an 18-year-old catcher who resides in Toulouse, France. He is originally from Cuba and immigrated to France in 2007 with his father. Paz-Garriga is the first amateur free agent the A's have signed from Europe.
Paz-Garriga is six-feet and 170 pounds and he is a right-handed hitter. He has most recently played for Toulouse in the Division Elite in France and has been a member of the French junior national baseball team. In 2010, Paz-Garriga hit .302 with 17 RBIs in 24 games. He threw out 13 base-runners in 24 chances, improving on a nine-for-33 effort in 2009 [Editor's note: an earlier version of this article included incomplete statistics from the 2010 season.] In 2009, he attended the MLB Baseball Camp in Tirrenia, Italy.
Paz-Garriga was considered the top amateur talent in Europe this signing period. He has been scouted by the A's European scout Tom Gillespie since Paz-Garriga arrived in France in 2007. The A's were connected with Paz-Garriga at the start of the July 2nd signing period for amateur free agents, but the team didn't officially come to terms with Paz-Garriga until this week. He is expected to participate in the Dominican Summer League for the 2011 season.
A's Announce Fuentes Signing; Designate Tolleson For Assignment
As expected, the A's announced the signing of left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes on Wednesday. Fuentes signed a two-year deal with a third-year option with Oakland. The veteran was the closer for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim for the 2009 season and much of the 2010 season. He also pitched for the Minnesota Twins last year. In total, Fuentes had 24 saves and a 2.81 ERA in 48 innings for the Angels and Twins in 2010. He had 48 saves for the Angels in 2009 and has 187 over the course of his major league career.
Fuentes was one of the best relievers in baseball against left-handed hitters last season. He held southpaws to a .128 average and a 371 OPS last season and has held them to a .192 average and 493 OPS over the last three years. He has converted 100 saves in 115 opportunities over that time period.
Fuentes joins Grant Balfour as the A's most recent free agent signings. The team also inked free agent DH Hideki Matsui and pitchers Rich Harden and Brandon McCarthy earlier this off-season and have acquired outfielders Josh Willingham and David DeJesus in trades.
To make room for Fuentes on the A's roster, Oakland designated infielder Steven Tolleson for assignment. Tolleson hit .286 with a 748 OPS in 49 major league at-bats with the A's last season. He also hit .332 with nine homers and a 915 OPS in 80 games for Triple-A Sacramento last season. It was Tolleson's first season in the A's organization. He was claimed off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins before the start of the 2010 campaign. Tolleson was ranked as the A's 23rd best prospect going into the 2011 season by Scout.com
With A's middle infielders Cliff Pennington and Adam Rosales rehabbing from off-season surgeries, Oakland may need to go out and sign a veteran infielder to a minor league deal to bring to spring training if Tolleson doesn't clear waivers. Eric Sogard and Adrian Cardenas are the only other middle infielders on the A's 40-man roster besides Pennington, Rosales and starting second baseman Mark Ellis. Both Sogard and Cardenas have had much more recent experience playing at second base than at shortstop.