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Fernando Abad, O's agree on Minors deal

@JoeTrezz
December 21, 2020

The Orioles are in agreement with veteran left-hander Fernando Abad on a Minor League deal to bolster their bullpen depth, the team announced on Monday. The O's also signed catcher Nick Ciuffo and RHP Claudio Custodio to Minors contracts. Abad last pitched in the Majors in 2019 for the Giants,

The Orioles are in agreement with veteran left-hander Fernando Abad on a Minor League deal to bolster their bullpen depth, the team announced on Monday. The O's also signed catcher Nick Ciuffo and RHP Claudio Custodio to Minors contracts.

Abad last pitched in the Majors in 2019 for the Giants, posting a 4.15 ERA in 21 appearances. The well-traveled reliever owns a career 3.67 ERA over 384 appearances across parts of nine seasons for the Astros, Nationals, A’s, Twins, Red Sox and Giants, mostly in middle relief.

There is opportunity for Abad, who will turn 35 on Thursday, in the Orioles’ bullpen, as the team recently traded Richard Bleier and has watched Paul Fry pitch to reverse splits (.630 OPS facing righties vs. .796 OPS facing lefties from 2018-20). The Orioles are eyeing their only other full-time lefty reliever, Tanner Scott, for potential closing opportunities in '21. Rising prospect Bruce Zimmermann will also get looks from the bullpen, but probably in more of a swingman role.

At his best, Abad was an effective left-handed specialist for playoff-caliber bullpens in Oakland and Boston, posting a 1.57 ERA for the 2014 A’s and a 3.30 mark for the ’17 Red Sox. Abad was particularly good against lefties in those two seasons, holding them to a combined .206 (32-for-155) average.

All told, lefties have hit just .234 with 18 home runs and a .661 OPS off Abad in 603 career plate appearances.

This is the second time the Orioles have pursued Abad in the past calendar year, after they expressed interest in him at the 2019 Winter Meetings. The two sides never struck a deal, and Abad did not play in '20. His ties to Orioles upper management are longstanding: Abad debuted for the Astros in '10, the year before Mike Elias arrived in Houston’s front office.

Joe Trezza covers the Orioles for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeTrezz.