Free Agent Stock Watch: Brian Fuentes

Brian Fuentes was in the right place at the right time in the 2008-09 offseason, coming off a 30 save season when several clubs were willing to spend big on closers.  He fell 20 games finished short of having his 2011 option vest, so the 35-year-old lefty is headed for free agency.  Let's assess his position.

The Pros

  • Fuentes dominated lefties this year: 11.57 K/9, 2.57 BB/9, no home runs in 14 innings.  Also in the small sample department: Fuentes was untouchable in 9.6 innings with the Twins.
  • Assuming Mariano Rivera doesn't field offers from multiple teams, Fuentes can make a case as the second-best free agent closer unless Bobby Jenks is non-tendered.
  • He's a Type B free agent who won't be offered arbitration anyway, so there's no draft pick cost.  Last time around, the Rockies snagged the Angels' #32 pick and chose Tim Wheeler while also taking Rex Brothers in the supplemental round.

The Cons

  • Fuentes is 35 and dealt with back pain this year.
  • He's prone to free passes, with a 3.8 BB/9 on the season.
  • He allowed just 5.8 hits per nine innings and a .227 BABIP, figures that he's highly unlikely to replicate.
  • Fuentes had the highest flyball rate in baseball (58.5%) among those with 40 innings pitched.
  • He's been ordinary against righties the past two years, according to his FanGraphs splits page.
  • Fuentes' price tag will come with the typical closer inflation.

The Verdict

Fuentes may come into the offseason seeking two years and a closer gig, but the supply of available stoppers outweighs the vacancies.  He may have to settle for one year and $4MM unless Beverly Hills Sports Council can create a bidding war.


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