Kyle Farnsworth said he noticed an opportunity with the Tampa Bay Rays.
He certainly will have one. The Rays have lost six relief pitchers to other teams via free agency, including closer Rafael Soriano, and they hope Farnsworth can help fill the void. The Rays on Saturday officially signed Farnsworth to a one-year, $3.25 million contract. The contract includes a 2012 club option.
"They've been real successful the past three or four years," Farnsworth said in a conference call Saturday. "It's something I've always wanted to be a part of. The main goal is to make the playoffs, and they've been successful doing it. I also wanted to find a team close to my hometown. I live in Celebration, (Fla.). I wanted the best of both worlds."
Farnsworth, 34, went 3-2 with a 3.34 ERA in 60 appearances last season with the Kansas City Royals and Atlanta Braves. He struck out 61 and walked 19 in 64 2/3 innings, holding opponents to a .230 average.
"Kyle brings not only experience, but also an intimidation factor that will help our entire bullpen," Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said in a statement. "As he's matured as a pitcher, his arsenal has continued to evolve, and he has the stuff to get crucial outs for us in the AL East."
Farnsworth laughed when he heard Friedman called him intimidating.
But he doesn't shy away from the reputation, either.
"I'm just a big old teddy bear," he said. "I can turn it on and off."
The Rays had expected to lose most of their bullpen this offseason. Andy Sonnanstine returns. They signed Joel Peralta and Farnsworth and acquired Adam Russell in a trade. They still are looking for a closer.
"I haven't had that discussion with anybody yet," said Farnsworth, when asked if he could be pitching in the ninth inning this season. "I'm going to take the ball and pitch whatever inning Joe [Maddon] has me pitch. Whether it's the sixth, seventh, eighth or ninth, I'm just going to try the best I can to help the team win.
"Hopefully this transition goes well for everybody. Pitching has been their strongpoint. Hopefully we can keep that going."
Farnsworth has spent parts of 12 seasons with the Cubs (1999-2004), Tigers ('05, '08), Braves ('05, '10), Yankees (06-08) and Royals (09-10), compiling a career 4.39 ERA. He has a 2.82 ERA in his career against the American League East.
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.