Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Fuentes: Twins Free Agent Fix

The Twins bullpen continues to be an area of question for the 2011 season.  The Twins have seen players such as Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier leave for greener pastures.  One player that the Twins have been rumored to still have interest in is Brian Fuentes.

According to various reports there are many teams that are still interested in the services of Fuentes for the 2011 season.  This list could include as many as eleven teams according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. It also seems that Fuentes is in the market for a long-term deal that many other relievers have been getting this offseason.  

Fuentes is in his mid-30's so signing him to a two or three year contract would lock him into a team's bullpen until he was almost 40.  That is a long time to be committed to a relief pitcher who could be declining over the course of the contract.

There is a good chance that Fuentes will be paid a little extra for the amount of saves that he has accumulated over the course of the last six seasons.  Since 2005 Fuentes has 183 saves with the Rockies, Angels, and Twins.  For his career Fuentes has a 3.41 ERA and averages 65 innings pitched a season.

The Twins will be entering the 2010 season with a bullpen group that includes many players that will have something to prove.  Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, Alex Burnett, and Glen Perkins are a few of the names that could play an integral part in the bullpen picture.  Patrick Reusse of 1500 ESPN looks at the internal options with the Twins and how they may be happy going with what they already have for next season.

As this offseason has progressed I have felt more and more that having a veteran presence in the bullpen is a necessity for the success of the 2011 Twins.  Ron Gardenhire has been able to rely on the arms of Crain and Guerrier over the past few seasons.  Those arms are gone and Fuentes could fill that late inning role to bridge the gap to whomever the closer may be.  

Will Fuentes be the difference between the Twins and a World Series next season?  Most likely no...
But with the moves that the Tigers and White Sox have been making it could help the team to stay competitive in a division that is becoming increasingly difficult.  He could be a free agent fix that fans are looking for as pitchers and catchers report in only 49 days.  

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