Free Agent Stock Watch: Brian Fuentes

With 18 games remaining in the season, Brian Fuentes' 2011 vesting option is officially out of reach. The 35-year-old's contract included a $9MM option for next season that would vest if he finished 55 games, but an April back strain knocked him off pace early. Having finished only 35 games this year, the left-hander is heading toward free agency.

When Fuentes signed his last contract, he was coming off a career year. In 2008, he saved 30 games and recorded a 2.73 ERA to go along with 11.8 K/9, turning that performance into a two-year, $17.5MM deal with the Angels. Despite saving 72 games over the course of the contract, Fuentes likely won't be fielding the same sort of offers this winter. His ERA (3.67), BB/9 (4.0), and K/9 (8.3) over the last two years have all fallen off slightly since his final seasons in Colorado, and at 35, he's not getting any younger. Teams didn't hand out many multi-year guarantees to last year's crop of free agent relievers, and Fuentes is part of a free agent class that includes other left-handed options like Scott Downs, Pedro Feliciano, Hisanori Takahashi, and Will Ohman.

Fuentes has been used as a closer for the majority of the last few years, and he'll aim to be paid like one. However, with only a handful of teams expected to be in the market for a closer, and many feasible options available, clubs might view Fuentes as a setup man instead. Being able to call on the southpaw in any middle or late inning rather than waiting for the ninth would allow a team to better take advantage of his primary strength: retiring lefties. While Fuentes has always handled left-handed hitters better than righties, his splits are particularly disparate this year – right-handers have a .757 OPS against him, compared to just .350 for left-handers.

A multi-year contract and a chance to close figure to be at or near the top of Fuentes' wish list this winter, and it's possible that a team willing to overpay for saves will provide him both. If not, the lefty could end up inking a short-term deal, perhaps with an option year, to be the primary left-handed setup man for a contender.


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36 Comments on "Free Agent Stock Watch: Brian Fuentes"


Guest
Old22
4 years 9 months ago

I agree, and think he would make a great set up man or situational vs lefties. It worked very well for many other left handers in the past when they were still effective against left handed hitters and no longer full time closers. Jessie Orosco, Mike Stanton etc…

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

One interesting note about Fuentes’s option is that it’s a “vesting only option”, not a club option with a vesting clause, so the club does not have the option to bring him back at that fixed price if they were so inclined.

Fuentes is one of several Twins pitchers that will be free agents, or arb eligible this winter.
Free Agents: Pavano, Fuentes, Guerrier, Rauch, Flores
Arb Eligible: Liriano, Capps, Condrey, Neshek, Perkins, Slowey

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

Liriano and Slowey should be signed long-term… Signing good young pitchers that have their share of big league expirience with success, is my philosophy. Along with having a veteran in there or two.

Guest
The_Porcupine
4 years 9 months ago

Pretty much their whoe bullpen is up in the air next year. And didn’t Slowey sign an extension like Baker did? I could be mistaken.

Guest
twins33
4 years 9 months ago

That was Blackburn.

Guest
BobbyJohn
4 years 9 months ago

The Rockies could certainly use a solid lefty that could also spell Street as the closer if needed. Maybe Fuentes can return to Denver next season on a one-year deal with an option.

Guest
progmatinee
4 years 9 months ago

Rockies could be a bit overstocked with Lefty relievers if they keep Morales and Beimel as they certainly will keep Matt Reynolds on next seasons’ roster.

I like the idea though, just the Rox wouldn’t overpay for a setup man considering I believe they still have Betancourt undercontract.

Guest
drumzalicious
4 years 9 months ago

I actually was hoping the Braves would trade for him at the deadline next year. I think he could be a great option for their bullpen next year as only Venters is the only person they have for late inning situations with next year being Kimbrels true rookie season and I wouldn’t trust him out of the gate in late inning games

Guest
4 years 9 months ago

We’ve got plenty of lefties. Venters and O’Flaherty are established, Dunn and Lee Hyde have good upside, and Scott Diamond is going to have to become a reliever to make it to the bigs with Atlanta. I’d prefer someone like John Rauch, Frank Francisco, or Octavio Dotel if we want a veteran to help stabilize the ‘pen.

Guest
nick1538
4 years 9 months ago

I would like the Twins to bring back Fuentes if the price is right. Mijares is solid, but why not have two lefties. I am sure being a setup man on a contender would be more of a draw than a closer for a bad team.

Guest
bgigs52
4 years 9 months ago

I would hope they can bring him back to the Twins for a reasonable price. It would help give the Twins extra insurance if Nathan doesn’t fully come back from the TJ surgery. If Nathan does come back it would just give the Twins extra depth in the bullpen and that is something they always like to have.

Guest
nick1538
4 years 9 months ago

Here is what I think the Twins will do for next year:
Offer Arbitration or a 2-yr contract to Capps, resign Fuentes (1 year with an option), sign Crain to a 2 year deal and let Rauch and Guerrier walk

Even without Nathan it would look something like this (not bad):
Long: Manship
Middle: Slama
Middle: Delaney
Middle: Mijares
LSU: Fuentes
RSU: Crain
CL: Capps

Guest
Bernaldo
4 years 9 months ago

Slama is doubtful. Alex Burnett and Pat Neshek are much more likely. They took Slama off the 40-man roster and it seems pretty likely he won’t be put back on. Delaney is also a long shot since the Twins declined to keep him around in September and don’t seem impressed by his minor league numbers.

Guest
thegrayrace
4 years 9 months ago

Slama would be a pretty awesome name for a closer.

Guest
Bernaldo
4 years 9 months ago

You’re right, it would be a pretty awesome name for a closer! However, Slama is a marginal big league pitcher who has no future as a closer. He might stick somewhere as a back-of-the-bullpen reliever but he seems destined for a AAAA kind of career.

Guest
twins33
4 years 9 months ago

Agreed. I’d like him back if the price is right.