Brian Fuentes Released: Washington Nationals Should Give Him a Chance

Kenny DeJohn@@kennydejohnAnalyst IIIJuly 12, 2012

DENVER, CO - JUNE 14:  Brian Fuentes #40 of the Oakland Athletics delivers against the Colorado Rockies during Interleague Play at Coors Field on June 14, 2012 in Denver, Colorado. The A's defeated the Rockies 8-2.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Oakland Athletics released left-hander Brian Fuentes on Wednesday after a terrible performance in the first half of the season. He had been designated for assignment on July 3.

Fuentes did not perform well in 25 innings out of the Oakland bullpen this season. He pitched to a 6.84 ERA with 65 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9.

He is in the final year of the two-year, $10.5 million contract he signed prior to the 2010 season. Though he is owed $5 million this season, teams can now sign him for the pro-rated minimum salary.

Even with the bad start to his season, there will definitely be teams interested in acquiring the former All-Star closer.

While there have been no rumors suggesting such a union, I think the Washington Nationals should take a chance on him.

Look what the team did with fellow left-hander Mike Gonzalez. He was picked up off the scrap heap and has pitched exceptionally well for the Nats.

In 12 innings out of the bullpen, he has a 1.50 ERA and 13 strikeouts.

Now, Fuentes would not replace Gonzalez in the bullpen—he has been too good thus far. However, one could make a case that he should replace Henry Rodriguez who, although a very hard-thrower, has struggled mightily this season.

One may not be able to justify a Fuentes signing, as the team already has Gonzalez, Sean Burnett and Tom Gorzelanny as lefties in the bullpen.

Burnett and Gorzelanny are also having solid years coming out of the pen, so Fuentes would not be replacing either of them.

In the end, I think the Nationals should still take a shot on Fuentes. Injuries happen—the Nationals know that better than most teams—and having a veteran lefty ready to go in an emergency could be a huge boost to a team looking to make it to the postseason.

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