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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.