Veteran left-hander Brian Fuentes was placed on the restricted list by the Cardinals in mid-August for undisclosed personal reasons and did not return to St. Louis. Now Fuentes is calling it quits for good.
According to Sean Lynch of the Merced Sun-Star, the 37-year-old reliever has retired from baseball, officially ending a 12-year major league career.
“Ultimately, I was just having trouble with the time away from my family,” explained Fuentes. “I’ve been playing baseball for all of their lives, but I’d never been so far away as when I was in St. Louis. I think at one point I went like two months without seeing them. Coming home and being able to put them to bed at night made me realize what I was missing. … Ultimately you start thinking about what you’re playing for.”
Fuentes will finish up having posted a 3.62 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP in 613 1/3 career innings. He totaled 204 saves while making stops in Seattle, Colorado, Anaheim, Minnesota, Oakland and ultimately St. Louis.
UPDATE: The Cardinals just announced that they have signed Fuentes to a minor league contract. According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the veteran reliever will report to the team’s Gulf Coast League affiliate on Monday and is expected to be in the minors for no more than two weeks.
Friday, 10:33 PM: Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that Fuentes is now “likely” to join the Cardinals.
Friday, 10:30 PM: Brian Fuentes was granted his release by the Athletics this week after being designated for assignment, but he’s not having any trouble attracting potential suitors now that he’s a free agent.
Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today that six teams have shown interest in Fuentes. Meanwhile, Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed to Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he has interest in the veteran southpaw and hopes to hear a decision at some point this weekend.
Fuentes, 36, posted a 6.84 ERA and 18/10 K/BB ratio over 25 innings this season before getting the boot from Oakland. The Athletics are covering his remaining salary, roughly $2.5 million for the rest of this season and a $500,000 buyout on a $6.5 million option for next season, so he can sign anywhere for a pro-rated portion of the major league minimum. His closing days are over, but he figures to catch on somewhere as a middle reliever.
Not surprisingly the A’s couldn’t find a taker for Brian Fuentes and his contract after designating him for assignment last week, so today they released the veteran reliever.
Fuentes was briefly Oakland’s closer this season, stepping into the ninth-inning role when Grant Balfour struggled, but lost that job to rookie Ryan Cook.
He was owed about $2.5 million for the second half and another $250,000 to buy out his 2013 option, so the A’s will eat that money and Fuentes is free to sign elsewhere for a prorated share of the minimum salary (or perhaps even a minor-league deal).
At age 36 he’s no longer late-inning material, but Fuentes could still help some teams as a secondary setup man or middle reliever.