On Monday, the Washington Nationals traded away left-handed reliever Fernando Abad to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor-league outfielder John Wooten. With the loss of Abad comes an even greater need for a left-handed reliever.
It’s fantastic for the Nationals that they were able to even get something in return for Abad. He became a pleasant surprise for Washington as a left-handed arm in the bullpen. After 17 outings at AAA for the Nats he was then brought up to the big-league bullpen and pitched well. Over 37.2 innings of work he pitched to a 3.35 ERA and averaged 7.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
Wooten is a future big-league prospect for the Nationals in the outfield. Again, Mike Rizzo was able to get a solid minor-league prospect for one of his players. While Wooten was left off of Baseball America’s top prospect list for the Athletics there is promise there, and it will be interesting to track his progress.
With Abad now gone, the Nationals need to look long and hard at signing a left-handed arm to stick in the bullpen. J.P. Howell and Boone Logan are two pitchers that Washington should get in contact with. You could also add Manny Parra’s name to that list. All three pitchers have a number of years left in this league and will all come cheap for an organization that has deep pockets.
Another option that the Nationals should take a good long look at is Sammy Solis. Abad was optioned for AAA prior to the Rule 5 Draft in order to make room for Solis on the 40-man roster and protect him from being scooped up by another team in that Rule 5 Draft. In the Arizona Fall League Solis pitched very well and led the AFL in strikeouts with 29.
A new left-handed hurler in the bullpen is something that has been at or near the top of the Nationals’ offseason wish list. With Fernando Abad now moving to Oakland, they need to move that to the top of their list and turn their attention toward finding an arm that can fill the void, whether it be Solis or someone on the free agent market.