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A closer look at the Red Sox’ interest in Brian Fuentes

12.30.10 at 5:33 pm ET
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Of course Brian Fuentes would make a nice addition to the Red Sox bullpen. If the free agent were to sign with Boston, he would give the Sox something they do not currently have: An experienced left-handed reliever with a long history of dominating lefties (while also remaining reasonably effective against righties).

Both Daniel Bard and Bobby Jenks were very good against left-handed hitters in 2010. But Fuentes was in another category from the two right-handers.

While pitching for the Angels and Twins in 2010, the 35-year-old held left-handed hitters to an anemic line of .128/.222/.149/.371 in 55 plate appearances (right-handed hitters had a .203/.293/.403/.696 line). He was so good against them that opposing managers would simply turn to their bench (sending up 21 pinch-hitters, 20 of them right-handed) rather than have a left-handed hitter step to the plate against Fuentes.

If the Sox were to have a perfect design for their 2011 team, it might well include Fuentes — or a pitcher like him — in the bullpen.

However, while the Sox do have interest in the left-hander (as has been reported by, among others, Jon Heyman of SI.com (via twitter) and Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com), their interest is of a very defined type. Specifically, at a time when the team has committed $142 million to Carl Crawford, is likely to commit in excess of $150 million to Adrian Gonzalez, passed $12 million in the direction of right-handed reliever Jenks and another $3 million to fellow righty Dan Wheeler, the Sox, according to a major league source, are “not in a position to pay a premium” for another reliever.

The Sox, according to multiple team sources, are open to what they would perceive as a good value signing — likely meaning less years and average annual value than what Fuentes is reportedly seeking. (Rosenthal said that the 35-year-old wants a multi-year deal for in excess of $5 million a year.) While there may be such a deal down the road, depending on what the market for Fuentes ultimately looks like, the pitcher’s asking price and what the team is willing to offer do not currently match up.

One other consideration that could work against Fuentes’ interest in the Red Sox: If he is to take what would be perceived as a good deal, the presence of closer Jonathan Papelbon as well as a pair of setup men who are capable of closing (Jenks and Daniel Bard) could diminish Fuentes’ interest in the Sox. Whereas a player like Adrian Beltre had an incentive to come to the Sox on a one-year deal to build his value, Fuentes might find that other teams would permit him a greater opportunity to showcase his talents for his next deal. For instance, the St. Petersburg Times is reporting that the Rays are pursuing the veteran — who led the American League in saves in 2009 — as a closer.

All of that is to suggest that, while the idea of Fuentes coming to Boston cannot be dismissed, and the Sox’ interest in adding him is genuine, the likelihood of the Sox adding him to their rebuilt bullpen seems fairly low at this moment.

Read More: bobby jenks, brian fuentes, Daniel Bard, Hot Stove

Hot Stove Live Chat with Alex Speier, noon

12.30.10 at 11:30 am ET
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Join WEEI.com’s Alex Speier in talking all things Red Sox and Hot Stove, Thursday at noon:

Merloni live chat

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Joakim Soria won’t block a trade to Yankees

12.30.10 at 11:01 am ET
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Although Royals closer Joakim Soria has a no-trade clause in his contract, the pitcher told a Mexican newspaper that he would not block a trade to the Bronx if the opportunity arose. Soria told Vanguardia that his agent listed the Yankees among other teams as a strategy, but if the Royals were willing to part with the All-Star closer, Soria would welcome a trade to the Yankees, or any other team interested.

Soria has recorded 132 saves to go along with an impressive 2.01 ERA in four years with the underachieving Royals, and would potentially be used as a setup man for Mariano Rivera, the 41-year-old closer, before eventually taking over Rivera’€™s role. Rivera signed a two-year contract worth $30 million to remain in New York this offseason.

Read More: Hot Stove, Joakim Soria, Yankees,

Report: Carl Pavano choosing between Twins and Nationals

12.30.10 at 10:58 am ET
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While most big-name free agents this winter already signed to new contracts, several of the second-tier free agents remain unsigned, like third baseman Adrian Beltre and pitcher Carl Pavano. Pavano has reportedly narrowed his choice down to two teams: the Twins and the Nationals, the Minneapolis-St.Paul Star Tribune reports.

Pavano, 34, is seeking a three-year deal, which seems to be the hold up. Pavano won 17 games in 2010 with the Twins, but he struggled to live up to a four-year, $39 million contract with the Yankees previously.

Read More: carl pavano, Hot Stove,

Report: A’s out on Beltre

12.29.10 at 2:45 pm ET
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Ken Rosenthal of Foxsports.com is reporting that the Oakland A’s have pulled out of talks with free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre.

The report suggests that the A’s made several offers to Beltre, who is believed to be looking for a five-year, $85 million contract. If the A’s are indeed out of the running it would seem that the Angels are the clear leaders in the Beltre derby, though Rosenthal reports that the Rangers are still an option for the third baseman, who hit .321 with 28 home runs and 102 RBI for the Red Sox in 2010.

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Agent: Octavio Dotel agrees to one-year deal with Blue Jays

12.29.10 at 10:41 am ET
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The agent for Octavio Dotel said the reliever has an agreement for a one-year deal with the Blue Jays worth $3.5 million. The agent, Dominic Torres, told ESPNdesportes.com that the team will have a $3.5 million option in 2012.

Dotel, 37, saved 22 games appearing for the Pirates, Dodgers and Rockies last season.

Read More: Hot Stove, octavio dotel,

Mark Teixeira: Andy Pettitte leaning toward retirement

12.29.10 at 6:43 am ET
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Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira said Tuesday that he has been exchanging text messages with Andy Pettitte and he believes that the pitcher is “leaning toward retirement.”

“I think, like everyone else [thinks], if he’s leaning one way, he’s probably leaning towards retiring,” Teixeira said on Tuesday at a news conference to kick off Thursday’s Pinstripe Bowl game at Yankee Stadium. “I think that’s what he’s publicly said. It’s no secret right now. That’s probably where he’s leaning. But in a month and a half, a lot can happen.”

Read More: Andy Pettitte, Hot Stove, Mark Teixeira,
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