According to Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated via Twitter, there are eleven teams interested in signing left-handed relief pitcher Brian Fuentes.
while #redsox like fuentes, they have company. others w/some interest: tor, tb, colo, sea, minn, pitt, phil, milw, nyy & nymFuentes, a former closer for the Rockies and Angels, is reportedly looking for a three contract similar to the ones Joaquin Benoit and Scott Downs signed earlier in the offseason. At this point in the offseason, a three year contract for that kind of money might be a tall order as most teams have spent the bulk of their money and are looking for bargains.
Last season, Fuentes pitched pretty well splitting time between the Angels and Twins going 4-1 with a 2.81 ERA (3.85 FIP) and a 47/20 strikeout to walk ratio in 48 innings. While Fuentes could close for roughly 6-8 teams, most of the teams Heyman named as interested parties would likely use him in a role other than closer. For example, the Red Sox would likely use him as a lefty-specialist with Papelbon, Bard, and Jenks already eating up the bulk of the high leverage innings. The Yankees, Phillies, Rockies, and Brewers would use probably use him as their primary left-handed set-up man. For the Twins and Mets, he'd serve not only as their primary set-up man, but also a reliable fall back option should their established closers need extra time recovering from their maladies (for Nathan it's physical, for K-Rod it's mental). Only the Blue Jays, Pirates, Rays, and Mariners have potential closer openings. Of those teams, Blue Jays currently have viable options in Dotel and Frasor already in the mix. The other three teams are both low revenue clubs, and are unlikely to open their wallets wide enough to offer a three year deal worth $15-18M.
It looks like the player's market that was in full effect just a couple of weeks ago has shifted to more of a team friendly market. Adrian Beltre, Carl Pavano, Rafael Soriano, and Grant Balfour are among the players, in addition to Fuentes, who haven't been able to convince teams to meet their contract demands. If Fuentes can't convince a team to meet his demands, it's probably the smartest move for him to sign a one year deal with a team interested in giving him the closer role, even if it means less money. This would give him an opportunity to rebuild his value for when he hits the market again after 2011.