Rumors: Yankees Interested in Brian Fuentes

The Yankees have been looking to upgrade their bullpen this offseason and after missing out on a few of their targets they may turn to lefty Brian Fuentes, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Rosenthal lists the Yankees among a few other teams including the Red Sox, Rays, and Twins that are interested in the former closer, but said that it could ultimately come down to his asking price. Fuentes is supposedly seeking at least $5 million a year on a multi-year deal. That Yankees are very unlikely to offer that if they view Fuentes as more of a lefty specialist than a setupman.

Fuentes, 35, was a closer for the Angels last season but was converted to a setupman after the Twins traded for him late in the season. He’s been a closer since 2005 when he was with Colorado, but hasn’t been lights out since signing with the Angels before the 2009 season posting ERA’s of 3.93 and 3.52 in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

The Yankees would probably use him as a lefty reliever who can also pitch to righties, but his splits do make him attractive as a lefty only reliever. Last season he held left handed batters to a 0.71 WHIP with a .128 batting average against. That’s the way it’s been with him throughout his career too putting up a 1.13 WHIP and a .211 BAA against lefties since 2001.

The Yankees are going to try to be smart here and sign him for an amount where it won’t kill them to use him as a lefty specialist. Still, after they’ve missed on a few of their relief targets while the Red Sox have done such a good job upgrading their bullpen it would be painful to see the Yankees get out bid here. With the other supposedly interested teams here not looking for a closer and Rafael Soriano still on the market for others who are, the Yankees have no excuses here as it isn’t so likely that another team will step up with a big offer.

I like this potential acquisition, but not at all costs though. The reason I like it is because I don’t trust Boone Logan even after a very successful year in pinstripes, he just doesn’t have the track record. Although with relievers being so volatile and Fuentes’ advancing age it would be painful to see him give him a $15 million contract. Right now he doesn’t appear to be the piece that would put them over the top.

What do you think? How important is Fuentes to the Yankees bullpen? Should they go all out for him or should they make him a fair offer and if he doesn’t take it then that’s OK too?

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