The following players have been signed to 2017 minor league contracts or acquired via trade or waivers by the Oakland Athletics and could be members of the Sounds roster this upcoming season:
*Last Update 11/21/16*
RHP Aaron Kurcz - Kurcz, 26, was recently signed to a minor-league contract by Oakland. The right-handed reliever has pitched in Nashville each of the past two seasons. He finished his 2015 in Music City and appeared in 18 games. In 2016, Kurcz started with Double-A Midland and dominated the competition with a 4-0 record and 1.26 ERA in 11 games. The A's bumped him up to Triple-A and Kurcz responded with a 3.50 ERA and 5-1 record in 35 games. He was used in a variety of ways out of the bullpen. Look for him to be a constant in the Nashville 'pen again in 2017.
RHP Ryan Brasier - Brasier, 29, was recently signed to a minor-league contract and received an invitation to big league spring training as a non-roster player with Oakland. The right-handed reliever spent all of 2016 in Nashville and was a consistent member of the bullpen. Often getting the ball late in the game, Brasier went 5-3 with a 3.56 ERA in 46 games. In 60 2/3 innings, he racked up 70 strikeouts and issued just 19 walks. Like Kurcz, Brasier figures to be a member of the Nashville bullpen again in 2017. He'll have a crack at getting to the big leagues for the first time since 2013 with the Angels.
OF Andrew Lambo - Lambo, 28, recently signed with Oakland as a minor league free agent. The outfielder has had an up-and-down calendar year, both on the field and off. Back in early June, Lambo was diagnosed with testicular cancer and underwent surgery at Vanderbilt. In a classy move, the A's placed Lambo on the big league roster and 60-day DL meaning he would earn a big league salary. In October, he was outrighted to Nashville. Hence, the minor league free agent contract. Lambo has big league time and figures to be in the mix in Nashville and Oakland early in the 2017 season.
RHP Chris Smith - Smith, 35, returns to the Oakland organization on a minor league contract. The veteran right-hander was front and center of the PCL's best pitching staff. Smith made 22 starts for the Sounds in 2016 and went 6-8 with a 3.93 ERA. In 130 2/3 innings, he struck out 121 and help opponents to a .239 average. In August, Smith was called up by the A's and he held his own. In 13 appearance out of the bullpen, he maintained a 2.92 ERA and struck out 29 in 24 2/3 innings. Look for Smith to provide the same veteran leadership he did last year.
INF Josh Rodriguez - Rodriguez, 31, also returns to the Oakland organization on a minor league contract. The veteran infielder split his 2016 between Double-A Midland and Nashville. Rodriguez filled the role of utilityman admirably with Nashville when prospects like Ryon Healy, Chad Pinder and Joey Wendle got called up to Oakland. In 88 total games, he hit .263 with 53 RBI and 24 extra-base hits. Rodriguez could return to the role of playing everywhere on the field at a couple different levels in 2016.
LHP Felix Doubront - Doubront, 29, recently signed a minor league contract after being outrighted to Nashville. It looked as if Doubront was going to be a member of the A's 5-man rotation out of spring training, but the lefty injured his elbow and underwent Tommy John surgery. Doubront pitched in 16 games (12 starts) in 2015 and went 3-3 with a 5.50 ERA. He has big league time with the Red Sox, Cubs, Blue Jays and A's. Should he make a full recovery, Doubront could be in the Sound rotation early in the season, and possibly Oakland's by the end of 2017.
C Matt McBride - McBride, 31, recently signed a minor league contract with Oakland. The veteran catcher spent the majority of 2016 with Nashville and hit .267 with 30 RBI and 28 extra-base hits in 70 games. McBride filled in at catcher for the A's when the injuries mounted and could play a similar role as another option behind the plate in 2017.
RHP Tyler Sturdevant - Sturdevant, 30, signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent. The right-handed reliever made his big league debut in 2016 with the Rays and pitched in 16 games. He also pitched in 34 games with Triple-A Durham and went 3-2 with a 3.66 ERA. The Cleveland Indians drafted Sturdevant in the 27th round draft pick out of New Mexico State in 2009. Sturdevant could be a big factor in the Nashville bullpen and get a crack at Oakland's as well.
RHP Cesar Valdez - Valdez, 31, recently signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent. Valdez had career resurgence in 2016 as he turned in a tremendous season with Triple-A Fresno. The right-hander went 12-1 with a 3.12 ERA in 30 games (18 starts) with the Grizzlies. After pitching in the hitter-friendly ballparks in the Pacific Conference last year, Valdez could become a mainstay in the rotation at pitcher-friendly First Tennessee Park in 2017. Prior to 2016, Valdez hadn't pitched in affiliate ball since 2011. He came up in the Diamondbacks system and pitched with Reno in 2009 and 2010 before latching on with the New Orleans Zephyrs in 2011.
OF Kenny Wilson - OF Kenny Wilson - Wilson, 26, recently signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent. Wilson was a second round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2008 MLB First Year Player Draft. The speedster spent time in the A's organization in 2014 with Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento. He brings the element of speed with 292 career stolen bases. Wilson was with the Marlins organization in 2016. In 32 games with Double-A Jacksonville, he hit .347 (41-for-118) and in 93 games with Triple-A New Orleans, he came in at .219 (68-for-310).
RP Simon Castro - Castro, 28, signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent and received an invitation to big league spring training. A one-time Top 100 prospect, Castro's career was rejuvenated last year with Triple-A Albuquerque. In the hitter-friendly Pacific Conference, Castro held opponents to a .255 batting average and turned in a 3.38 ERA in 50 games. In 53 1/3 innings, the right-hander struck out 58 and issued only 12 walks. Castro has over 250 minor league appearance and 15 games under his belt in the big leagues. With a crowded bullpen in Oakland, Castro may be in line to start the season in the Sounds 'pen.
INF Jermaine Curtis - Curtis, 29, signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent and received an invitation to big league spring training. The one-time St. Louis Cardinals farmhand spent the 2016 season with the Reds organization with the Triple-A Louisville Bats of the International League. The California native was named a midseason IL All-Star and turned in a solid season overall. In 89 games, he hit .291 with 50 RBI, 38 runs scored and 23 extra-base hits. Curtis drew 42 walks compared to just 43 strikeouts. Nothing new for Curtis who has drawn 357 walks compared to 362 strikeouts in his career. His lone big league time came with St. Louis back in the 2013 season when he appeared in five games.
OF Jaff Decker - Decker, 26, signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent on November 22. He will be with the team in spring training as a non-roster invitee. Decker was drafted in the 2008 Compensation Round (42nd overall) by the San Diego Padres. The left-handed hitting outfielder spent the 2016 season with the Tampa Bay Rays organization. He played 99 games for Triple-A Durham where he hit .255 with 35 RBI, 55 runs scored and 32 extra-base hits to go along with 18 stolen bases. He also appeared in 19 games with the Rays and hit .154 in limited action. Even after Oakland signed Matt Joyce, they were still looking for outfield help. Decker and other non-roster invitees will get an opportunity early.
C Ryan Lavarnway - Lavarnway, 29, recently signed with the Athletics as a minor league free agent with an invite to big league spring training. The California native spent the 2016 season split between the Braves and Blue Jays organizations. He started the year with Triple-A Gwinnett and hit .276 in 25 games before Atlanta released him. He signed with the Blue Jays shortly after and spent the rest of the season with Double-A New Hampshire where he hit .262 with 48 RBI, 40 runs scored and 27 extra-base hits in 91 games. Lavarnway was originally selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft out of Yale. The backstop could be a fixture behind the plate for the Sounds in 2017.
1B Chris Parmelee - Parmelee, 28, signed with the Athletics in late November and received an invite to big league spring training. Parmelee spent the 2016 season with the New York Yankees organization with most of his time in Triple-A with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 64 games with the Railriders, he hit .248 with 29 RBI, 29 runs scored, 11 home runs and 10 doubles. He played in six games for the Yankees and went 4-for-8 in limited action. The California native battled injuries throughout the year and was limited to 70 games overall. Parmelee has nearly 1,000 minor league games under his belt and over 300 major league games. He's a career .273 hitter at the minor league level and has put together a .248 mark in the big leagues.
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