Rox hope to retain free agent Fuentes

Rox hope to retain free agent Fuentes

DENVER -- Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd's attempt to move forward with his roster might mean looking to the immediate past -- to left-handed closer Brian Fuentes.

Fuentes, who earned 30 saves in 2008 and holds the club record with 115, has filed for free agency, with the expectation of receiving a big offer on the open market. However, with several clubs looking for closers and many closers either looking for work or available via trade, O'Dowd said Wednesday the Rockies will offer Fuentes arbitration on the off chance he will accept.

If a free agent accepts an arbitration offer, he is treated just like any other arbitration-eligible player -- mostly those with more than three years and fewer than six years of Major League service. The sides submit figures and negotiate a deal or have a three-judge arbitration panel choose either side's salary offer and assign it to the player.

The offer of arbitration to Fuentes, 33, also is a reflection on the economy, which affects all aspects of society, Major League teams included.

"We feel good about offering Brian Fuentes arbitration, because you never know what will happen," O'Dowd said. "There are a lot of closers on the market. This week you had Trevor Hoffman (whose offer by the Padres was withdrawn) added to the number of guys, and in this economy, you never know what the future will bring."

O'Dowd is in position to add to the intrigue involving closers. The Rockies obtained former Athletics closer Huston Street, along with left-handed starter Greg Smith and outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez, for left fielder Matt Holliday in a deal completed Wednesday.

With other teams knowing the Rockies also have Manuel Corpas, who supplanted Fuentes as closer in 2007 but lost the job back to him in 2008, O'Dowd is receiving calls from other teams about Street.

In other developments:

• The Rockies had expressed interest in retaining two other free agents, left-handed pitcher Glendon Rusch and reserve outfielder Scott Podsednik, but O'Dowd backed slightly away from that Wednesday.

"We have such respect for the two of them as veterans, but we want to make sure there is an opportunity and a role for them here," O'Dowd said. "It's early in the offseason and we don't know where we're going to end up."

• O'Dowd said the Rockies will not be a player in the free-agent market for top-level starting pitching. He said he is looking for such a talent in a trade, but he believes it may play out that the Rockies possess what they need to augment the front of their rotation -- Aaron Cook, Jeff Francis and Ubaldo Jimenez.

Hot Stove
Young left-hander Franklin Morales, who helped the team to the 2007 World Series during a late-season callup but flamed out last April, has given up one run in his last three games in Venezuela in winter ball. O'Dowd recognized him as the type of talent who can transform the rotation.

"That guy could be down in Venezuela, where he threw six shutout innings the other night," O'Dowd said. "He could be working out down in Florida, the way Greg Reynolds is. He could be working out downstairs [at Coors Field]."

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.