Saturday afternoon the St. Louis Cardinals officially signed Brian Fuentes, sending the former All-Star to the minor leagues in preparation for a late-July trip to the major league bullpen. That ended a few weeks of speculation, and the life of a specific and long-lasting MLB rumor, but I doubt it's the end of the Cardinals' hunt for veteran bullpen help. Unless Fernando Salas or Maikel Cleto is able to emerge soon as the third reliable right-hander they need, expect the Cardinals to continue to sniff around any available relievers as the trade deadline nears--even Padres closer Huston Street.
With Kyle McClellan out for the season following a shoulder injury, the Cardinals no longer have even the illusion of help on the way, and the walk-off home run Victor Marte gave up Saturday against the Reds could prove an effective, if over-simplified, example of the dangers of relying on free talent.
One thing to keep in mind: The Cardinals won't necessarily attempt to help their bullpen by acquiring a reliever. Trading for a starter like Bartolo Colon and then moving mid-90s sinkerball-throwing rookie Joe Kelly into the bullpen would be another way of improving the pen while also making up the rotation depth they lost when Chris Carpenter's rehab failed.