The official off-season in baseball begins right after the end of the World Series, when players eligible for free agency can declare their intention to hit the open market. While everyone knows who is eligible for major league free agency, the minor league free agent market can be a bit more murky. To make it easy for you, we have the list of current A's farmhands who will be eligible for minor league free agency this winter. Note that players with at least seven years of minor league service time are eligible to be free agents. We have broken down the A's minor league free agent class into three categories: longtime A's farmhands, player acquired via trades or waiver claims, and players who signed with the A's as minor league free agents within the past year.
Longtime Oakland A’s farmhands
Nate Long: One of the most well-respected players in the Oakland A’s system, Long has filled any role the A’s have asked him to fill during his seven years in the organization. Sometimes a starter, sometimes a reliever, Long, a 2009 26th-round pick, took on a full-time starter’s role in 2014 when the Midland RockHounds experienced significant injuries in their starting rotation. Long helped lead the ‘Hounds to a Texas League title with a 3.18 ERA in 150 innings. Circumstances beyond his control left Long back in Double-A to start the 2015 season, but he earned a promotion to Triple-A midway through the season after posting a 3.13 ERA in 83.1 innings. Long struggled at times with Nashville, but he deserves another shot in Triple-A next season.
Anthony Aliotti: Aliotti is one of three members of the A’s 2009 draft class still in the A’s organization. The St. Mary’s alum has had a solid career in the A’s system. In seven seasons, he has hit .282/.381/.398 with 53 homers. Aliotti has an excellent eye at the plate and a good glove at first base. He has also added the ability to play the corner outfield to his resume in recent years. Aliotti’s lack of prototypical first base power has hurt his prospect stock, but he hit .350 in the Texas League in 2013 and should receive plenty of interest in the open market.
Conner Crumbliss: Crumbliss, along with Aliotti and Long, is the third member of the A’s 2009 draft class still in the organization. The utility player has long been one of the toughest outs in the minor leagues. He owns a career .402 OBP and he has walked (552) more times than he has struck-out (454). Crumbliss isn’t a big guy, but he has added some power in recent years. Coming into the 2015 season, he had a run of three straight seasons with double-digit homeruns. Unfortunately, Crumbliss didn’t have a chance to extend that streak this season, as he missed the entire year due to injury. Defensively, Crumbliss can play all three outfield spots and second base, and with his batting eye – assuming he is healthy – Crumbliss should find a home this off-season.
Ryan Doolittle: Doolittle holds the distinction of being the only member of the A’s 2008 draft class still with the organization. The right-hander was a free agent last off-season, but he elected to re-sign with the A’s. He spent last fall pitching in the Arizona Fall League and then returned to Double-A this year. Like he did in 2014, Doolittle was a big part of the Midland bullpen in 2015 that helped the team earn a league title. Doolittle had a bad April, but he pitched well the rest of the season and finished with a 3.32 ERA and a 46:16 K:BB in 57 innings. He converted four of his five save opportunities. Doolittle suffered through years of injury problems early in his career, but he is now coming off of two straight healthy seasons. Doolittle can rush his fastball up to 95 MPH and he has a good split-change-up and a decent slider. If he doesn’t re-sign with Oakland, he is likely to get plenty of interest on the open market.
Jonathan Joseph: With 10 years under his belt, Joseph is the longest-tenured member of the A’s organization (on the player side). The right-hander from the Dominican signed as a teenager before the 2006 season. He has moved slowly up the ladder. Joseph has had opportunities the past few off-seasons to test the open market, but he has re-signed with the A’s each time. The 2015 season was a momentous one for Joseph, as he pitched above A-ball for the first time. He began the year with Stockton, but then moved to Midland on April 25 and spent the rest of the season with the RockHounds. Joseph started nine games and relieved in 23 for Midland, posting a 4.04 ERA and a 75:29 K:BB in 91.1 innings. Joseph had a rough go in July (6.23 ERA), but he otherwise was consistently solid all season. If he doesn’t sign with the A’s, Joseph is likely to find suitors this off-season.
Omar Duran: Duran signed with the A’s as a teenager before the 2008 season. The hard-throwing left-hander was a minor league free agent last year, and he signed with the Detroit Tigers. Duran struggled in seven early-season appearances for the Tigers’ Double-A team and was released. The A’s re-signed him and he spent the rest of the season with his original organization. He never got on-track this year, however. In 13.2 innings with Stockton, he posted a 5.27 ERA. That ERA ballooned to 7.09 in 26.2 innings with Midland. Duran has a plus fastball that can touch 97 and 427 strike-outs in 327.1 career innings. Command has always been an issue, however, and he has walked 211 in his career. Lefties with big fastballs will always draw interest, and it would be a surprise if Duran didn’t find a home this off-season. He is still just 25.
Players Acquired via Trades/Waiver Claims
Andy Parrino: Parrino was originally acquired by the A’s in the deal that sent Tyson Ross to the San Diego Padres. Over the past three years, Parrino has gone back-and-forth between the A’s and Triple-A. He also spent some time in the Texas Rangers’ organization. A truly gifted defender, Parrino hasn’t hit much at the big league level. He had a solid year at the plate in Triple-A this season, batting .272/.344/.376. Parrino should get plenty of interest given his ability to play multiple positions – and play them well – and his status as a veteran of 131 major league games.
Taylor Thompson: The A’s claimed Thompson off waivers from the Chicago White Sox last off-season and kept him on their 40-man roster until August 9, when he was designated for assignment. Thompson didn’t get to pitch much before he was DFA’d, as he injured his shoulder during spring training and didn’t make it back onto the mound until late July. Thompson would clear waivers in August and remained in the A’s organization as a non-roster player. He allowed 11 earned runs in 13 innings with Nashville during his month with the team. Thompson, when healthy, throws hard and has some swing-and-miss potential. His health will likely determine how quickly he lands with a team this off-season.
Parker Frazier: Frazier joined the A’s on July 2nd when he was traded from the Arizona Diamondbacks. He made his first start with the A’s in Triple-A and then spent the rest of the season with Double-A Midland. Frazier posted a 32:31 K:BB in 67 innings with the RockHounds, but he had a 3.22 ERA and was an important part of the Midland pitching staff down-the-stretch. Frazier threw a shutout in the title-clinching game for Midland. Originally a Colorado Rockies prospect, Frazier is an extreme groundball pitcher with more than 800 innings of experience in the minor leagues. His father is former MLB pitcher George Frazier. The younger Frazier should receive interest, especially from organizations that value groundball pitchers.
Tim Atherton: The A’s acquired Atherton in the minor league Rule 5 draft before the 2014 season. The native of Australia began this year with Stockton but spent most of his season with Midland. Atherton missed more than a month with an injury, but he still established a career-high in innings pitched with 101. He had a 4.10 ERA and a 89:35 K:BB. Atherton began his career as a position player, and he has only been pitching full time since 2011. He has struggled with consistency, but when he has been on, he has been impressive. Atherton will turn 26 in November.
Dawrin Frias: The A’s acquired Frias as the player to be named later in the deal that sent Eric O’Flaherty to the Mets this season. He made seven appearances with the Vermont Lake Monsters after joining the A’s, and Frias has a 1.23 ERA in 7.1 innings. Frias looked to be on the verge of a breakthrough in 2014 when he had a 2.98 ERA in 57.1 innings in Low-A with the Mets. An injury this spring slowed him down and he spent most of the year in short-season. Frias has never pitched above A-ball, but he won’t turn 24 until February and should generate interest this winter.
Recently Signed Free Agents
Alden Carrithers: For the past two off-seasons, Carrithers has been a free agent and each of those times he has signed with the A’s. Like Crumbliss, Carrithers has a well above-average eye at the plate and some defensive versatility. His career on-base percentage is .397. Unfortunately, also like Crumbliss, Carrithers struggled to stay healthy this season. Carrithers appeared in only 46 games before being shut down for the year. During that stretch, he hit .286/.379/.344 for Nashville. The UCLA alum will turn 31 this winter.
Angel Castro: This was a memorable season for Castro, even if it ended with him no longer on the A’s 40-man roster. The right-hander finally reached the big leagues after a decade in the minor leagues. He made five appearances for the A’s and was charged with eight hits and one run allowed in four innings. For the rest of the season, Castro pitched for Nashville. In 60.1 innings, Castro had a 3.13 ERA and a 45:19 K:BB. He also saved eight games in nine chances.
Jim Fuller: Fuller signed with the A’s as a minor league free agent last off-season. He began the year with Midland but jumped up to Nashville on May 2nd. Fuller pitched well for the Sounds, posting a 2.78 ERA and striking out more than a batter an inning in 32.1 innings pitched. He missed a good portion of the second half of the season with injury. Fuller turned 28 partway through the season.
Brock Huntzinger: Huntzinger spent the entire 2015 season with Nashville after signing with the A’s as a free agent during the off-season. He had an outstanding first half, posting a 2.33 ERA in 38.2 innings. He struggled during the second half, however, posting a 9.86 ERA. He also spent a few days on the disabled list towards the end of August, as well. His 56.1 innings pitched was his lowest yearly total since 2008. He did strike-out 54, but he walked 36.
Brad Mills: Mills spent some time with the A’s in 2014 after being acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers, but he finished the year with Toronto. He re-signed with the A’s during the off-season and spent most of the season in Nashville. Mills had a 4.57 ERA in 137.1 innings (24 starts) for Nashville. He also made one start for the A’s, allowing three runs in five innings. With the Sounds, he struck-out 95 and walked 55.
Brent Morel: Morel joined the A’s as a minor league free agent on July 30. The veteran infielder was very productive during his 34 games with Nashville. He batted .331/.370/.463 with 14 extra-base hits. Morel has 220 career games at the big league level.
Kevin Whelan: Whelan’s first season in the A’s organization almost ended before it began. The right-hander appeared in just six games before he landed on the DL with a right elbow strain. He has a career 3.49 ERA in 495 innings with a 627:282 K:BB in 11 minor league seasons.
Ryan Roberts: Roberts joined the A’s as a minor league free agent in late April. He spent the rest of the season with Nashville and was one of the Sounds most productive hitters. In 114 games, he hit .283/.355/.450 with 13 homeruns.