The departure of Rafael Soriano in the offseason before last year left a huge void at the back end of the Rays bullpen. The team had to know that by cutting the payroll the way they did there was not going to be a way to fill it completely. They tried to fill it as best they could by signing Kyle Farnsworth away from the Kansas City Royals. Farnsworth has seen action with six different teams including the Rays last year and had two separate stints in Atlanta and Detroit.
Before last year he had never saved more than 16 games in a season and never was really “the guy” anywhere except for the Braves at the end of 2005. Joe Maddon didn’t seem bothered by this and except for some struggles in the last month Farnsworth handled it well. He had a career high 25 saves in 2011 and before July first he only had one blown save and one loss. I was not a Farnsworth fan when he signed and he didn’t really grow on me any during the year either. When you look at the numbers though, and the price tag, he makes sense in Tampa.
The Rays can’t afford a frontline closer and it doesn’t look like they are going to move anybody around to convert them to the spot, so why not keep Farnsworth and let him continue to fill the role. He has electric stuff including a slider that at times is just as hard to catch as it is to hit. He definitely looks like a closer, like he would rather be staring at you inside the octagon than inside the batter’s box. Farnsworth is probably as good a closer as the Rays are going to find out on the market so I think it only makes sense for him to stay in Tampa. If Maddon and Hickey can keep Farnsworth in a good state mentally, he will only get better as a closer in the American League.