Fuentes telling teams he would like to close, source says. Not a shock. That’s where the money is.
Aside from a closer role, Brian Fuentes is said to be looking for a contract in the neighborhood of Scott Down’s deal with the Angels which was three-years and $15 million.
There are at least half a dozen teams interested in Fuentes at this point, the Yankees being one of them. Not many are looking for Fuentes to close for him. One team though is the Tampa Rays. Three years and $15 million is expensive, probably too expensive for both the Yankees and the Rays, but the thing is that if Fuentes is looking for a closer role the Rays have the big advantage.
The fact that Fuentes is looking for a closer role is not just about the thrill of finishing games, it’s about money. Meaning, that if the Yankees and Rays both offer him the same amount but the Rays give him the closer role then he can stockpile saves and the next time he’s a free agent teams will potentially think of him as a closer. If the Yankees make him a lefty reliever he gets no saves and the next time he’s a free agent teams aren’t as likely to think of him as a closer and he’ll get less money.
This is why the Yankees are at a big disadvantage if he’s holding out for a closer role and finds somebody willing to offer it to him. The only thing they can hope for is that the Rays find somebody else they’d rather have as their closer and Fuentes has to settle for a setupman job. At that point then the Yankees could have an advantage because they can outbid other teams if they want to.
Personally I am a big fan of the idea of the Yankees signing Fuentes. To me he’s certainly not closer material, but he does very well against lefties. The Yankees already have Pedro Feliciano and Boone Logan, but I don’t trust Logan. He had one good year, but a few bad ones before it. He might have turned a corner, but he might have just gotten lucky.
I really would like to see the Yankees with two reliable left handed relievers, not counting Logan, because then there will be much less pressure to call up prospect Manuel Banuelos at some point if there is a need for a lefty reliever. Banuelos needs to be in the minors learning to become a starter. At this point any time spent in the Bronx being used as a reliever will stunt his growth as a pitcher. So it’s always been important to me that the Yankees sign a few lefties. They got Feliciano, now I’d like to see them get another.