Cardinals targeting Fuentes, relief market

Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak confirmed that the organization has reached out to the Beverly Hills Sports Council to express interest in signing their client, recently-released lefty reliever Brian Fuentes. Fuentes was designated for assignment and then released by the A’s earlier this month after a disappointing season start. In 12 appearances with Oakland, Fuentes allowed 30 hits and 19 earned runs in 25 innings.

The Cardinals, however, have been searching for left-handed relief help since releasing J.C. Romero in May. Right now, rookie Barret Browning is serving as the club’s second lefty, behind Marc Rzepczynski.

Fuentes is believed to be mulling various offers, leaving the Cardinals to wait for that decision. Fuentes, 36, is just three seasons removed from his fourth All-Star appearance and is coming off a season in which he posted a 3.70 ERA in 67 games.

Signing Fuentes would not come at a substantial risk for St. Louis. Because Fuentes was released, and not traded, it’s the A’s who are on the hook for paying the rest of the $6.5 million Fuentes is due from his 2012 contract. A team could sign him now for as little as the pro-rated minimum Major League salary.

The Cardinals’ search for bullpen upgrades won’t end with Fuentes, even if he signs.

“I would say that our interest in right-handed relief is high,” Mozeliak added. “Basically, when you look at our bullpen, we’re happy in the eighth and ninth. We just have to get from the starter to there. If you look at the landscape of the trading market right now, getting a reliever might be easier than getting a starter.”

– Jenifer Langosch

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