Five days after the Nationals designated him for assignment, left-handed reliever Fernando Abad was traded to the Oakland Athletics for minor league outfielder John Wooten. In order to clear room on their roster last week to protect prospects eligible for the Rule 5 draft, the Nationals essentially cut ties with Abad. They had 10 days to trade Abad, among other options, and on Monday managed to strike a deal with a frequent trade partner. The deal was first reported by Peter Gammons.
Wooten, 22, hit .257/.333/.430 with 20 home runs, 113 strikeouts and 53 walks in 133 games at Class A Beloit in the Oakland system last season, his first full season in professional baseball. The 6-foot-3 right-hander played 105 games in right field but also saw action in 10 games at third base. The 37th round pick in the 2012 draft out of East Carolina played mostly in the infield in college, including shortstop and first base. His father, Sonny, played first for the Pirates from 1975 to 1977.
That the Nationals were able to net a return for Abad is somewhat impressive. The Nationals signed Abad, 27, last winter to a minor league deal after he let go by the Houston Astros. He was a long shot to make the Nationals in spring training and impressed team officials with his lively arm. By mid-season, he was part of the Nationals’ bullpen overhaul. Abad’s season started strong but he faded toward the end. He still finished with a 3.35 ERA over 37 2/3 innings but struggled against left-handed batters, allowing them to hit .306 off him.
General Manager Mike Rizzo and Oakland General Manager Billy Beane again proved that they have each other on speed dial. The two teams have made five trades in the past two seasons: two deals involving Kurt Suzuki, the Gio Gonzalez trade, the Michael Morse trade that netted A.J. Cole and Ian Krol and now the Abad-Wooten switch.
Left-handed reliever Tyler Robertson, who was also designated for assignment with Abad last week, has been assigned outright to Class AAA Syracuse.