Left-handed relievers are always in high demand regardless of the time of year, and this offseason Scott Downs is the best the free agent market has to offer. Let's examine the former Blue Jay's stock...
- Downs isn't just a lefty specialist, he's perfectly capable of facing right-handed batters as well. Over the last three seasons, he's held righties to a .238/.325/.329 batting line (removing intentional walks) compared to .198/.264/.316 vs. LHB.
- He's already proven to be more than capable against the tough lineups that inhabit the AL East.
- Downs has experience in a variety of roles, so he's an option to both close or set-up.
- Downs will turn 35 in Spring Training, so a three-year deal will carry him through age 37.
- He's been on the disabled list three times since 2008 with foot and ankle issues, and he also missed the last two-plus weeks of the 2009 season with a hamstring issue.
- Downs is a Type-A free agent that will certainly be offered arbitration, so it'll cost a high draft pick to sign him.
Joaquin Benoit's three-year, $16.5MM deal might have set the market for Downs, who's the best non-Rafael Soriano reliever on the market. The Red Sox are expected to show interest though the Yankees are reportedly not willing to surrender the draft pick. A reliever of Downs' quality fits with all 30 clubs, but only a few may be willing to offer multiple years at potentially closer money to sign him. Tim projected him to sign with Boston, and the smart money is on Downs joining a contender's bullpen.