SEATTLE – The first-place Minnesota Twins made their revamped bullpen more versatile for the pennant race by acquiring left-handed reliever and four-time All-Star Brian Fuentes from the Los Angeles Angels Friday for a player to be named.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said before Friday's series opener at Seattle that he will use the now-former Angels closer as a set up man for closer Matt Capps, and "probably as an occasional closer if I use the other guy too much."
Capps entered Friday with six saves in eight chances since Minnesota acquired him in a trade with Washington last month.
Before the season began, the Twins lost closer Joe Nathan to elbow surgery.
The 35-year-old Fuentes is due to fly from Southern California to join his new team for Saturday's game against the Mariners.
"At this time of the year, you look at opportunities that can potentially make you better," Angels general manager Tony Reagins said. "As you go through the waiver process, there's a lot of things that come into play. Minnesota happened to be the team that claimed Brian, so we had to look within their system to see if we had an opportunity to get a good player in exchange for Brian. And we feel like we've accomplished that."
The player the Angels will get from the Twins will be chosen by Oct. 15, Gardenhire said. Minnesota began Friday with a 3½-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central.
The manager mentioned how tough Fuentes is against left-handed batters. It also doesn't hurt that he instantly becomes the most experienced of the three left-handers Minnesota now has in its bullpen.
The other two are Randy Flores, claimed off waivers from Colorado this week, and Glen Perkins. Minnesota recalled Perkins from Triple-A Rochester two weeks ago — then sent him back to Rochester after Friday night's 6-3 win over Seattle to clear roster room for Fuentes.
The Twins lost lefties Ron Mahay (torn rotator cuff) and Jose Mijares (right knee surgery) earlier this month.
"We knew he was out there, and as all players go through waivers we put in a claim for him along with everyone else," Gardenhire said of Fuentes, who has 542 career appearances. "We got to him first, and he got to us.
"It's another very good arm out in the bullpen, with experience. He should help us a lot, after losing two left-handers recently. ... After we lost Mijares, we've been looking around."
Gardenhire said he was "hoping" Mijares could return from the disabled list in three weeks.
The 35-year-old Fuentes helped the Angels win their third straight AL West title last season, leading the majors with a career-high 48 saves after joining them as a free agent in December 2008. The AL Central-leading Twins will be his fourth team in 10 big league seasons. He began his career with Seattle in 2001, then spent seven seasons with the Colorado Rockies.
"There are a lot of relationships I've made here," Fuentes said just outside the Angels clubhouse. "But on the flip side, the business side takes over and there's an opportunity to make both clubs better. So I'm looking forward to my time in Minnesota and getting back in the hunt."
Fuentes was 4-1 with a 3.52 ERA and was 23 for 27 converting saves this season for the slumping Angels, who were 9½ games out of first place in the AL West at the time of the trade.
He was 1-5 with a 3.93 ERA and 48 saves in 55 chances last season, his first for Los Angeles after signing a $17.5 million, two-year contract in December 2008.
He is likely to become a free agent again after this season. Gardenhire said after speaking to general manager Bill Smith that Fuentes has a vesting option in his contract for 2011, but that his current numbers make it unlikely those will "come into play" for Minnesota.
Fuentes allowed three runs in the ninth inning for the Angels in a loss to Tampa Bay on Wednesday.
The Angels will promote set up man Fernando Rodney to replace Fuentes. The 33-year-old right-hander had 37 saves last season with Detroit, and converted all five opportunities he had in April after Fuentes went on the disabled list with a back strain. Reagins said the club won't need to look for a closer in the offseason.
"We feel good about Fernando and what he can bring in the ninth inning to close out games," Reagins said.