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"


Old22
4 years 10 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…

4 years 10 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

4 years 10 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.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 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.

twins33
4 years 10 months ago

That was Blackburn.

BobbyJohn
4 years 10 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.

progmatinee
4 years 10 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.

drumzalicious
4 years 10 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

4 years 10 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.

nick1538
4 years 10 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.

bgigs52
4 years 10 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.

nick1538
4 years 10 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

Bernaldo
4 years 10 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.

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Slama would be a pretty awesome name for a closer.

Bernaldo
4 years 10 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.

twins33
4 years 10 months ago

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

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

I think alot depends on whether Feuntes demands to be a closer or if he’s willing to settle for a setup/committee role. I can’t think of too many teams needing a closer for next year (TB, Ana. for certain, Tex. if they move Feliz to starting, maybe Tor if they don’t keep Gregg). I think he’d be great in Col. as a set up man and closer when Street does his annual dl stint. He’d also be good with the Nationals to take the pressure off Storen. My wish is that he stays with the Twins. Considering their lack of dominating starting pitching (outside of Liriano), they need to have a shut down bullpen.

RedbirdRuffian
4 years 10 months ago

Fuentes will make his market in the playoffs coming up. If he is dominant, some team will be willing to offer him something close to closer money, but not for any length. Otherwise he is just another situational lefty albeit one of the best. I just can’t see Fuentes, Nathan, Capps, Crain, Rauch and Geuerrier on the same Twins team with the money they can get. Also Neshek will be on year 2 following TJ surgery and if he gets his velocity back he can be lights out so the need for all the vets just won’t be there.

4 years 10 months ago

Twins pitching staff next year:

Rotation-
Liriano (arb)
Pavano (2-year deal)
Duensing
Blackburn
Baker
(Slowey dealt away)

Bullpen-
Capps (arb)
Crain
Nathan
Mijares
Perkins (arb)
Delaney, Neshek or some free agent pickup
(Guerrier, Rauch, Fuentes, Flores, Condrey all gone)

The Twins will offer arbitration to Pavano, he’ll decline it, but then he’ll re-sign with the Twins when he sees that there are no great multiyear deals out there for a 35 year old with an injury history. The Twins will definitely want him back at a reasonable price because they will always want a “veteran innings eater.”

Slowey is going to be dealt because the Twins have already locked up Baker and Blackburn and will want to do Liriano and Duensing next, and they have Gibson and Wimmers ready soon as reinforcements if needed.

twins33
4 years 10 months ago

From all indications, agent and Pavano himself, Pavano really wants to come back. He doesn’t sound like he’s in it for the money. I mean, he got a big contract from the Yanks and he didn’t even have to do much. He thinks the Twins have a good chance and will contend for years. He could certainly change his tune, but for many months now, his agent has said Pavano (and he himself has said) is only thinking Twins next year.

I do see the Twins offering arb. and I can easily see him accepting and possibly working out a two year deal in it’s place. If he just goes with arb., he’ll probably be making 10 million or so.

Slopeboy
4 years 10 months ago

Pavano is no Boyscout.Don’t expect a home town discount from Pavano, especially if the twins go deep into the playoffs.

4 years 10 months ago

John Franco? Randy Myers?

moonraker45
4 years 10 months ago

On the other hand, I cant remember seeing so many Lefty starters at any point before, perhaps the rise has lead to the decline.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Next year, Chris Sale and Johnny Venters might be closers. Would I bet on it? Probably not Venters because of Kimbrel, but theres a chance. Anyway, Sale, he might be a really, really good closer next year if given the opportunity. Wouldn’t you agree?

thegrayrace
4 years 10 months ago

Kuo.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Exactly. Slowey also has had Elbow and wrist trouble throughout his career.

The_Porcupine
4 years 10 months ago

1 TJ surgery does not make you injury prone. Slowey is the injury prone one, every year spending time on the DL. Liriano (to my knowledge) has only been on the DL once, it just took him awhile to get back to pitching as well as he did before the injury. I’m not suggesting that signing to a long term deal is the right thing to do, I’m just saying he isn’t injury prone. I think if you were hoping to sign him cheaper, now is the time instead of waiting another year (it’ll be more expensive if he goes out next year and pitches just as well as he did this year). It might also be financially more feasible to sign him through his arbitration years.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

weren’t you the dude who also said that you’d be a 44 year old pitcher like El Duque? I’m counting on you man!

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Right. My bad. Huge difference eh?

cookmeister
4 years 10 months ago

i think he could be a good starter as well

4 years 10 months ago

I’d give Venters and Kimbrel an equal chance. Fredi’s probably gonna throw the two of them into a battle in ST and let the best man be the closer. Either way it goes, Venters and Kimbrel is a hell of a back end of a bullpen, and young enough to stay that way for years to come.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

Not saying he won’t. But real command issues.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

No doubt about it. And there might even be more Kimberl’s and Venters next season.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

I wasn’t saying that in any offensive or belittling way at all man. I just loved how you made that comeback to that Guy who said that you had no class. But your my boy Jack, had no sarcastic tone to what I said at all dude.

But seriously, I think you’ll be a 42 year old pitcher

Dave_Gershman
4 years 10 months ago

No problem man. Still the man.

twins33
4 years 10 months ago

He might, but that doesn’t mean he will get it. Look at Jermaine “I will not play baseball unless you give me what I want” Dye. He didn’t get what he wanted so he had to sit all year. The same thing could have have happened to Orlando Hudson, but he decided to play instead of not.

If Pavano cares more about playing than the money, which I think he does, he won’t ask for some insane number. I don’t think there are many teams out there that would be willing to overpay anyway. In my opinion, and if I’m remembering correctly, the only other pitcher who is a FA next year that is extremely appealing besides Pavano…is Lee. I’d say Lee and then Pavano as the most attractive pitchers out there next year, unless I’m forgetting someone. It wouldn’t be completely outrageous for him to get a good deal from someone.

All indications, so far, are that Pavano is not in it for the money. If you give him a fair amount, he’s good. He wants to win more than he wants money. I don’t want the Twins to go over 2/15 for him. I don’t think he’s worth more than that, but for what he has done to the Twins in his time here, he’s worth that. It could come back to bite the Twins, but that can be said about any contract.

The Twins seem very likely to offer arbitration for him. He’s a type A right now, if he goes it gives the team draft picks. If he stays then he’ll be on a 1 year deal in the 8-10 million range. I’d rather not pay him 10 a year, but I could easily see him accepting arbitration and getting that amount. He might not get a better deal than that as a FA, which is why I could easily see him accepting.

If he plays as well as he has this year, I will have nothing to complain about with him next year at 10 million. He’s been good for nearly two straight seasons (this one isn’t over with yet). The Yankees gave him a big contract for a reason, and it wasn’t just because “that’s what the Yankees do.” He might be injury prone, but when he’s healthy, he’s a great guy to have on the staff.