Brian Fuentes as a Set-up Man?
Early Monday afternoon, rumors emerged that the Red Sox were interested in pursuing closer Brian Fuentes to bolster their bullpen. Fuentes spent the bulk of his career with the Colorado Rockies before spending a year and a three quarters with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and then 9 games at the end of last season with the Minnesota Twins. He really burst onto the scene as a top closer with a 48 save season in 2009 for the Angels, but throughout his career, he has struggled to keep his era down with his career mark sitting at 3.41. If Fuentes is willing to sacrifice his save numbers to pitch in late-inning situations in Boston along with Daniel Bard, it would make the Sox bullpen extremely strong.
As always, the Sox expect and hope to get 6-7 innings consistently out of their starters and if that happens, a Fuentes, Bard, Papelbon 7th, 8th and 9th innings would be one of, if not the best in baseball. The question surrounds the type of contract Fuentes wants. Buster Olney of ESPN reports that he is looking for $6-8 million a year, making him a fairly high-priced reliever. That being said, top lefty relievers will always have inflated salaries because of supply and demand. There are not a lot of top tier left-handed relievers in baseball and every team needs/wants 1 or 2, so the demand jacks up the contract prices.
If Theo is willing to invest in bringing in the 35-year old for a season or 2, he could help stabilize a fairly shaky ‘pen and relieve some of the pressure on Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard. Bard was overworked last year out of necessity, but no one in the Sox organization wants to see that happen again, but like the Magglio Ordonez rumors, they are just that, rumors. No deal is in place and at this time of year, the Sox are interested in a ton of players, doing due diligence on dozens of them. It is free to inquire and ask for prices, so why not explore every alley and path. You never know where a stray path can lead if it is explored properly.