Nearly a decade to the day he was the main prospect acquired in the trade that sent Mark Mulder to the St. Louis Cardinals, Daric Barton is officially a member of another organization. Barton signed a minor-league deal with the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. He has an invitation to the Blue Jays' big league spring training.
Although Barton wasn't expected to return to the A's after filing for free agency this off-season, by signing with the Blue Jays, he officially closes a chapter in Oakland A's history. Acquired along with Dan Haren and Kiko Calero in exchange for Mulder, Barton was the A's top prospect for several seasons. He had a couple of promising stints in the major leagues with Oakland, but ultimately never lived up to the early expectations that were laid on him after the trade.
Barton played big league games with the A's in eight different seasons ranging back to 2007, when he made his big-league debut as a September call-up. His best season came in 2010, when Barton hit .273/.393/405 with a 5.5 WAR. Injuries helped to stall Barton's development and he never became the Jason Giambi-esque power hitter with patience that scouts thought he might be early in his career. Barton leaves the A's with a career major league line of .247/.356/.365 in 551 games. Barton appeared in 30 games with the A's in 2014 and had nine hits in 57 at-bats (.158 BA). With Barton's departure, Sean Doolittle takes the reigns as the longest-tenured player in the A's organization. Doolittle was the A's supplemental first-round pick in 2007, the year Barton made his big league debut. At the end of the 2007 season, Barton and Doolittle were the A's top-two first base prospects. Doolittle is, of course, now the A's closer.
Barton has logged 543 games at the Triple-A level, all with the Sacramento River Cats. He made the final out in the last game the River Cats played as an A's affiliate. Barton will compete with another former top prospect, Justin Smoak, as well as Chris Colabello this spring.