The Oakland Athletics made a minor move that could end up having major implications for the bullpen in 2014. They sent Class A outfielder John Wooten to the Washington Nationals in exchange for left handed reliever Fernando Abad. Abad is a 27 year old who isn’t yet arbitration eligible, so he fits in perfectly with the Athletics mantra of having cost controlled players. He was a 40-man roster casualty with the Nationals as they shuffled players around to prepare for the upcoming Rule 5 draft.
Abad figures to slide into the middle relief corps, and should provide quality innings. He posted a solid 3.35 ERA last season in 37.2 innings of work, and surrendered just three home runs all year. His 3.20 strikeout to walk ratio is solid, but not spectacular. What is interesting about Abad is that he was much more effective against right handed hitters than left handed hitters in 2013. Over his career though his splits are fairly similar against both sides.
The initial belief of many would be that the addition of Abad could mean the end of the road with the Athletics for Jerry Blevins. While Blevins has had his struggles from time to time, he has still developed more of a track record off effectiveness, and has been lethal at times against left handed hitters. I would endorse keeping Blevins in the fold, perhaps working as more of a lefty specialist, where he’s most effective.
Much like last season, the A’s may be beginning to stockpile talent. It’s always good to have depth, and always good to have options. Rest assured the team will need them at some point.