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Wednesday November 25, 2009 11:53 pm

Dotel tests free agency… again

Octavio DotelHappy birthday to Octavio Dotel. He turns 35 years old today, and is now in a position to earn himself a very satisfying birthday present. After having spent the last two years with the Chicago White Sox, he is now temporarily without a team name on his jersey. Dotel, a right-handed reliever, has filed for free agency and will now soak in the offers from other clubs – and he will get his fair share of offers.

Dotel has spent time with seven teams in his 11 seasons in the bigs. He was originally tested as a starter by the New York Mets in 1999. With the Houston Astros the following year, he was converted to a relief pitcher and became the team’s closer; a role he would fall in and out of over the next half-decade. He transferred to the American League and split time with the Oakland Athletics, New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals (as well as a quick stop back in the NL with the Atlanta Braves) where he was used sparingly for four seasons, but did not enjoy regular work or much success.

Prior to the 2008 season, Dotel signed a two-year $11 million contract with the White Sox, who gave Dotel regular work as a middle reliever, and he definitely made the most of it. In 129.1 innings of relief in the Windy City, Dotel went 7-7 with a 3.55 ERA. He struck out 167 batters and allowed 65 free passes and 106 hits. Throughout his career, he has not found a better fit or more success than his time with the White Sox, which results in his being one of two Type A free agents from the south siders (Jermaine Dye being the other).

Dotel is in the top class of available relievers, including others like LaTroy Hawkins, Jose Valverde, and Darren Oliver. His success and time will likely mean he’ll find somebody who wants him – and fast – but where is anyone’s guess. This guy is not afraid to move around to where he’s needed, but where he’s needed the most might be right where he is. The White Sox finished 79-83, and were within striking distance of the Twins and Tigers in the AL Central. They’re not in a rebuild mode, they just need a simple restructure, and even at age 35, Dotel certainly can be one of the unsung heroes of a successful 2010 White Sox club.

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