Freely* Available Talent: Brian Fuentes

May 21, 2012; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Brian Fuentes (40) pitches the ball against the Los Angeles Angels during the ninth inning at O.co Coliseum. The Oakland Athletics defeated the Los Angeles Angels 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Freely* Available Talent is something I'm considering turning into a recurring feature here on BCB, looking at players who other teams are making available that could potentially help this team.

The news: Earlier today the A's designated reliever Brian Fuentes for assignment.

Fuentes is 36 years old, in his 12th major league season and in the final year of a two year, $10.5 million deal. He's really struggled this season, posting a 6.84 ERA over 26 appearances for the A's.

With that said, Fuentes has a career 3.58 ERA, posted an ERA below 3 two seasons ago and was at 3.70 last season. He's recorded over 200 major league saves and struck out 9.4 batters per nine over 600+ major league innings.

On top of that track record, Fuentes is left-handed. He's held lefties to a career .220/.304/.322 line over his career. That's certainly not spectacular but it might be better than any current Brewer would do in those situations.

As I mentioned above, Fuentes is in the final year of his deal with the A's. He's still owed something like $2.5 million over the last half of the season, plus a $500,000 buyout or $6.5mm club option for 2013.

Could Fuentes help this team? Maybe. His current big league performance is nothing near his long-term track record. If he could get back to his career norms he'd be a big asset in a bullpen that's been much maligned this season.

It's also possible, though, that's he's done. As mentioned above Fuentes is 36 years old. His fastball velocity is still good, though. In fact, it's up a few ticks from the last two years.

All told, it wouldn't take much for Fuentes to outperform some of the current members of the bullpen and slot into a seventh inning-type role.

What I think the Brewers should do? I'm not sure claiming Fuentes off waivers is the right move, because even the relatively small financial investment it would take to get him (roughly $3 million) is going to look foolish if he comes to Milwaukee and continues to post an ERA around 7.

However, if I were Doug Melvin I'd call the A's and see if they're willing to eat some of his salary in trade. If Fuentes is healthy and can turn things around, getting him on the cheap could really stabilize the bullpen.

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