A’s Acquire Fernando Abad from Nationals For Bullpen Depth
Abad, 27, pitched in 39 games for the Nationals in 2013, posting a 3.35 ERA in 37 2/3 innings. He averaged 7.6 strikeouts and 2.4 walks per nine innings pitched, and should provide Bob Melvin with an additional option from the left side should Abad make the 25-man roster in spring training.
It’s expected that the A’s will let closer Grant Balfour depart in a free agent deal somewhere else, vacating the ninth inning slot he held for each of the past two seasons. Should that happen, many expect Melvin to hand closing duties over to the hard-throwing lefty Sean Doolittle, who primarily pitched the seventh and eighth innings in 2013. Doolittle’s right-handed complement Ryan Cook is also an option to close, barring any additional bullpen maneuvers this offseason.
Wooten, 22, was a 37th-round pick in the 2012 MLB Draft and wasn’t really considered to be very high on the team’s minor league depth chart. In 133 games for Class A Beloit this past season, he clubbed 20 home runs while posting a batting average of .257.
Prior to his year with the Nationals, Abad was a member of the Houston Astros organization from 2008-2010, appearing in 88 games for the team over that span. Though his numbers with Houston weren’t very impressive, Abad turned in a quietly solid 2013 campaign (posting a career-low WHIP of 1.381 and an ERA+ of 114). His HR/9 ratio also dipped to 0.7, its lowest point in his career, though his previously higher stats in that category presumably had something to do with playing at Minute Maid Park, one of the best hitters parks in the league.
Since it’s early in the winter months, there’s obviously no guarantee that Abad will end up making the 2014 A’s staff – but it obviously wouldn’t hurt for the team to have an additional lefty in the bullpen, especially if Doolittle becomes the de facto closer.
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