The Cardinals have signed free-agent left-handed reliever Brian Fuentes to a minor league contract.
The 36-year-old Fuentes was designated for assignment and later released by the Oakland A’s on Thursday after posting a 6.84 ERA in 26 games. He had five saves, including his 200th career save on May 2, and three blown saves.
Fuentes has been of interest to the Cardinals for several years but the two sides were never able to work out a deal. The 12-year big leaguer has 204 career saves and a 3.58 ERA in 644 games.
Since he hasn’t pitched in a game in more than two weeks, the four-time All-Star will make a few minor league appearances before joining the big league club.
Fuentes had a 2.84 ERA on May 29 but allowed 13 earned runs in six innings over his final seven games with Oakland. Left-handed batters hit .265 against him this year with four extra-base hits in 34 at-bats.
The left-hander played seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies and made three straight All-Star teams from 2005-07. He signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2008 and led the American Leagues with 48 saves in 2009, earning his fourth trip to the Midsummer Classic.
Fuentes had at least 20 saves in six-straight seasons from 2005-10. But he’s struggled since joining Oakland in 2011, going 2-8 with a 3.70 ERA last season before his recent struggles caused him to be released this week.
The Cardinals have been searching for a left-handed reliever since releasing J.C. Romero on May 14. Left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski has struggled to the tune of a 5.52 ERA in 40 games.