Chris Lockard /

Oakland A's protect five from Rule 5 draft; outright Josh Smith

The Oakland A's added five prospects to their 40-man roster on Friday, protecting those prospects from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

As expected, the Oakland A's made plenty of moves in advance of this year's Rule 5 draft, adding five prospects to their 40-man roster. To make room for those additions, the A's outrighted right-hander Josh Smith to Triple-A Nashville.

As we anticipated back in October, the A's protected top prospect Franklin Barreto, as well as highly regarded prospects Yairo MunozJaycob Brugman and Bobby Wahl. The A's also protected newly acquired right-hander Paul Blackburn, who joined the A's in a trade with the Seattle Mariners last weekend.

The A's additions were not unexpected, but Oakland has left several talented players available for the Rule 5 draft, including relievers Tucker Healy (76 strike-outs in 52.1 Triple-A innings in 2016) and Sam Bragg (68 strike-outs in 65.1 Double-A innings in 2016 and currently pitching well in the Arizona Fall League). Right-hander Dylan Covey, who will pitch in the AFL championship game on Saturday, is also available in the Rule 5 draft. Covey missed most of the 2016 season with an oblique injury, but he has a big league arm and a plus sinker.

The A's lost prospect Colin Walsh in the major league portion of the Rule 5 draft last year. Walsh made the Milwaukee Brewers' Opening Day roster coming out of spring training, but he struggled in limited opportunities and was returned to the A's partway through the season. Walsh spent the rest of the season in Triple-A with the Sounds. He was a minor league free agent at the end of the season and recently signed with the Atlanta Braves. The A's didn't select any players in last year's major-league potion of the Rule 5 draft. Given the current state of the A's 40-man roster (full at 40), the A's may not jump into this year's major-league portion, either.

For a complete list of players who were available in the A's system for the Rule 5 draft, please click here.

In addition to adding those five players to the 40-man roster, the A's signed two more minor league free agents from outside of the organization: right-handed pitchers Michael Brady and Cesar Valdez. Brady is a Cal alum who spent last season in the Washington Nationals' chain. In 81 innings mostly at Double-A, Brady posted a 2.89 ERA and a 72:13 K:BB. He was part of the return the Nationals received from the Los Angeles Angels for Yunel Escobar. He was an infielder in college and converted to the mound seven years ago. He has an unusual throwing motion but has always been able to throw strikes consistently. He has mostly been a reliever during his career, although the past few seasons have seen him start in half of his appearances.

Valdez is a 31-year-old right-hander who spent last season pitching for the Houston Astros' Triple-A chain in Fresno. He went 12-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 138.1 innings. Another strike-thrower, he posted a 114:13 K:BB last season. Valdez has nine big league appearances on his resume. He posted a 7.65 ERA in 20 innings in those outings. Valdez began his career in the Arizona Diamondbacks' chain and has spent time with the Pittsburgh, Miami and Houston organizations. Valdez also pitched in the Mexican Summer League for three seasons. He has experience as both a starter and a reliever.

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