Brian Fuentes has been linked to nearly a dozen teams this offseason while reportedly holding out for an opportunity to close and according to Ken Davidoff of New York Newsday the Blue Jays “rank among the most serious suitors for” the 35-year-old left-hander.
Toronto signed Octavio Dotel to a one-year, $3.5 million deal last week and the assumption was that he’d fill the closer role for the Blue Jays, but Davidoff writes that general manager Alex Antopoulos “will continue to explore the relief market” and Fuentes could fill the southpaw void created by Scott Downs leaving as a free agent.
Fuentes averaged 30 saves per season from 2005-2010, including a league-leading 48 for the Angels in 2009, and posted a 2.81 ERA with a 47/20 K/BB ratio in 48 innings last season.
All eyes will be on Jose Bautista’s performance at the plate this year as he tries to follow up an out of nowhere 54-homer season, but Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos indicated yesterday that he’ll likely also be playing third base full time after being mostly a right fielder in 2010.
Anthopoulos told Shi Davidi of the Canadian Press that the Blue Jays’ plans for Bautista could change if they sign or trade for another third baseman yet this winter, as his defensive versatility allows them to widen the search for another bat, but short of that they’re “comfortable” playing him full time at third base.
Bautista made 113 starts in right field and 45 starts at third base last season, but has played nearly 3,000 career innings at the hot corner and was a full-time third baseman in 2007 and most of 2008. Assuming he’s a third baseman the Blue Jays’ projected starting outfielders are Vernon Wells, Travis Snider, and Rajai Davis, so Anthopoulos would presumably still like to acquire someone who could push Davis into a part-time role.
Kevin Gregg has been linked to the Orioles for most of the offseason and Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com reports that the two sides have finally agreed to terms on a deal.
According to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun he’ll get $10 million for two years, and the contract also includes a vesting option for 2013.
He’ll presumably head into spring training as the favorite for ninth-inning duties, as Gregg racked up 37 saves for the Blue Jays last year for his fourth straight season with at least 20 saves.
However, his 3.79 ERA during that time isn’t particularly impressive and he blew six save chances last year to finish with a success rate of 86 percent that’s basically right at the MLB average. If healthy Koji Uehara is likely a superior reliever, but Gregg has far more closing experience.
Mike Gonzalez was signed to be of the Orioles’ closer last offseason, but missed most of the year with arm problems and remains a question mark. In his absence Alfredo Simon led the team with 17 saves, but he may spend 2011 in prison.