Who is Brian Fuentes exactly?
To some interested executives, the free-agent reliever is more of a left-handed specialist than a setup man or closer.
Fuentes, 35, evidently is doing something right. The Red Sox, Rays, Yankees and Twins are among the many teams interested in him, according to major league sources.
The issue, as always, is price.
Fuentes wants more than $5 million per season on a multiyear deal, several execs say. Those terms are affordable for a closer, high for a setup man and exorbitant for a specialist.
So, a team's view of Fuentes' proper role is crucial toward determining what that team believes he is worth. Some clubs also might be dismissive of Fuentes' accomplishments in an effort to drive down his price.
Fuentes' left-right splits show that he is indeed more effective against left-handed hitters. But it's not as if he's horrible against righties.
Last season, when Fuentes pitched for the Angels and Twins, left-handed hitters batted only .128 against him with a .222 on-base percentage and .149 slugging. Righties hit .202/.293/.403. Those splits are fairly consistent with Fuentes’ career patterns.
His problem against righties was that when he got hit, he sometimes was hit hard. He allowed 15 extra-base hits, including five homers, in 124 at-bats.
The good news: In 48 games, Fuentes produced a 2.81 ERA, the third-lowest of his career. His 1.063 walks and hits per innings pitched (WHIP) was a career best.
Even in '09, one of Fuentes' worst seasons, he earned 48 saves. The demand for him indicates that the industry still views him as quite valuable.
How valuable, we'll find out soon.
— Ken Rosenthal