33 year-old closer Keith Foulke was battered around in 45 innings in 2005. He's undergone surgeries on both knees and was said to have lost some velocity near season's end. Adding insult to injury, the Red Sox are now thinking about trading him.
My Boston source is telling me Foulke will get some attention as a setup man this offseason after the free agent market runs dry. Despite the surgeries, several teams feel that Foulke's problems in 2005 were largely mechanical and can be fixed. The Sox are looking to shed Foulke, and may be willing to pay half of his $7.25MM 2006 salary. Foulke has a $7.5MM option for 2007 that could vest with a strong 2006 performance (53 games finished would do the trick). The recent of Guillermo Mota makes Foulke slightly more expendable.
Despite the signings of Scott Eyre and Bob Howry by the Cubs, there are still a handful of set-up men on the free agent market. Al Reyes, Hector Carrasco, and Julian Tavarez all had decent seasons in '05.
On a related note, the Padres are looking at 39 year-old Japanese left-handed specialist Toyohiko Yoshida. Yoshida limited lefties to a .218 average in '05. However, the real prize among Japanese relievers may be 28 year-old lefty closer Hirotoshi Ishii. Ishii saved 37 games for the Yakult Swallows this year with over 11 strikeouts per nine innings. If not this winter, Ishii should become available following the 2006 season.
Thanks to Gary Garland of Japan Baseball Daily.
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