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Rays interested in Brian Fuentes as their new closer

Dec 30, 2010, 2:52 PM EDT

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Brian Fuentes has been linked to the Red Sox for most of the offseason, but now Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the Rays are interested in signing the veteran southpaw to be their new closer.

Fuentes served as a setup man for the Twins down the stretch after coming over in a late-August trade, but has plenty of closing experience and racked up an average of 30 saves per season from 2005-2010, including a league-high 48 in 2009.

As a side-arming left-hander many people assume that Fuentes would fit best as a situational southpaw and he certainly shuts down left-handed hitters. However, he’s also very effective versus right-handed hitters, holding them to a .224 batting average and .684 OPS during the past three seasons.

He certainly won’t be as overpowering as the man he’d be replacing in the ninth inning, Rafael Soriano, but Fuentes’ high-80s fastball and excellent changeup have made him one of the most effective (and underrated) relievers of the past decade and even at age 34 he posted a 2.81 ERA and 47/20 K/BB ratio in 48 innings.

  1. uyf1950 - Dec 30, 2010 at 3:01 PM

    On the surface seems to be a big come down from Soriano.

    • Ick McWang - Dec 30, 2010 at 6:27 PM

      a come down from soriano, sure, but soriano made 7.5 mil last year. The Rays wouldn’t even be talking to him if he was looking at that kind of money. I could see a 1 year, 2 or 3 mil deal with an option year or something.

      • uyf1950 - Dec 30, 2010 at 6:35 PM

        I’m sure your right. My comment was meant more for what each can do or would have done for the team purely as closers.

  2. ndnut - Dec 30, 2010 at 11:33 PM

    I’m a Twins fan who watched plenty of pitches come from Fuentes last year. He was a great setup man who should’ve been part of our closer by committee. Whoever gets him will be getting a great value.

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