|Red Sox still talking to Dan Wheeler, not engaged with Brian Fuentes||12.17.10 at 2:45 pm ET|
According to industry sources, the Red Sox continue to have conversations with right-hander Dan Wheeler about a potential deal to bring the Rhode Island native to Boston, but the team is not focused on left-hander Brian Fuentes.
Wheeler, 33, who was drafted out of Pilgrim High School in Warwick (R.I.), has been with the Tampa Bay Rays since the middle of the 2007 season, when he was acquired from the Astros in a trade for Ty Wigginton. Wheeler had a 3.35 ERA in 48 1/3 innings in 2010, and he struck out 8.6 batters per nine innings. However, his innings total was the lowest of his professional career, and he has seen his workload go down in each of the last three years. Over his last three full seasons with the Rays, he has a 3.24 ERA while striking out 7.5 batters per nine innings, while walking 2.5 batters per nine.
Fuentes was seen as a likely subject of Red Sox interest this offseason, coming off a year when he had a 2.81 ERA and 8.8 strikeouts per nine innings for the Angels and Twins. Over the last three years, most of which he spent as a closer, Fuentes had a 3.15 ERA and 9.5 punchouts per nine innings.
He missed time twice during the 2010 season due to back woes, resulting in his lowest innings tally since 2004. Still, he was very sharp down the stretch, tossing 9 2/3 innings for the Twins without allowing an earned run. He held opponents to a .181 average and .607 OPS in 2010, and dominated lefties to the tune of a .128 average and .371 OPS.
But, after the Sox’ reported two-year deal with Bobby Jenks, the team’s appetite for multi-year deals for middle relievers may have been exhausted, despite an AOL FanHouse report that the Sox and Yankees are engaged in a fight for the left-hander’s services.
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