J.J. Putz Rumors

Diamondbacks Release J.J. Putz

JUNE 27: The D’Backs have released Putz, according to the team’s transactions page on MLB.com. They’re still on the hook for the remaining $3.86MM on his contract, and he is now free to sign with any team. Given Putz’s track record and his solid strikeout, ground-ball and swinging-strike rates, I’d imagine he and his agents at LSW Baseball will have multiple interested parties.

JUNE 20: The Diamondbacks announced that they have designated righty J.J. Putz for assignment and reinstated outfielder Ender Inciarte from the seven-day disabled list.

The 37-year-old Putz missed more than a month with a forearm strain this season and was only recently activated from the disabled list. He’s allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings since coming back, causing his ERA to balloon to 6.59 on the season, though it’s come in a small 13 2/3 inning sample size.

Putz’s velocity has dipped to an average of just 89.6 mph this season, but his ground-ball rate to this point is a career-best 55 percent, and he’s posted a solid 14-to-6 K/BB ratio in his limited action. He’s also still generating whiffs, as evidenced by a 10.8 percent swinging-strike rate.

Putz is earning $7MM this season after signing a one-year extension with the Snakes, meaning that Arizona is on the hook for the remaining $3.86MM on his deal. They’ll have 10 days to trade, outright or release Putz. A team in need of bullpen help could have some interest if Arizona picks up some of his remaining salary.


West Notes: Almonte, Chatwood, Astros, Putz

The Mariners announced yesterday that Opening Day center fielder and leadoff man Abraham Almonte has been optioned to Triple-A Tacoma in favor of outfield prospect James Jones. Almonte, acquired from the Yankees in a trade for right-hander Shawn Kelley, entered the season ranked as the club’s No. 17 prospect (per Baseball America). However, he struggled with an everyday role, batting just .198/.248/.292. Jones, 25, has already made his MLB debut earlier this season, collecting a hit in his only plate appearance in mid-April. He hit a strong .313/.382/.450 in Triple-A, and Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune wrote that despite not starting against a tough lefty yesterday (Scott Kazmir), Jones will receive regular playing time in center field.

More from the game’s Western divisions…

  • The Rockies got some mixed news on right-hander Tyler Chatwood, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports. While Chatwood’s arm injury doesn’t appear to be season-ending, he will miss at least six to eight weeks as he rehabs from a flexor strain in his right arm. Franklin Morales has stepped into the rotation as the team purchased the contract of righty reliever Nick Masset, whose 40-man spot was opened by transferring Chatwood to the 60-day DL. For Masset, this marks a long journey back to the Majors after a series of shoulder injuries derailed his career in 2011-13.
  • Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle spoke with Astros medical risk manager and analyst Bill Firkus about his role with the team and also spoke with key members of the club’s medical/training staff about how Birkus has helped the club since his arrival last July. Firkus isn’t a doctor, but he specializes in analyzing trends and injury studies around professional sports. What has changed is the way we look at files for possible trades or picking up free agents,” said head trainer Nate Lucero. Drellich’s article gives an excellent look at Houston’s medical program and the changes that have been made to evaluating the success of operations since GM Jeff Luhnow took over.
  • Add J.J. Putz‘s name to the list of upcoming free agent pitcher (or just pitchers in general) who have a troublesome arm injury; Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reported late last night that Putz will be placed on the DL with right forearm tightness. The Diamondbacks have had poor luck with its pitching staff in 2014, losing Patrick Corbin and David Hernandez to Tommy John surgery while Archie Bradley has hit the minor league DL after struggling at Triple-A. As Piecoro notes, Putz suffered a UCL sprain last year that didn’t require surgery. Any long-term injury could potetially be a crushing blow to his free agent stock.

Parnell Says 50-50 Chance Of Tommy John Surgery

THURSDAY: Parnell tells Rubin that team doctors have told him there's a 50-50 chance that he will require Tommy John surgery. Parnell adds that he might not wait the full six weeks described by Alderson yesterday and could have an answer within two weeks. He would like to have the surgery sooner rather than later, if necessary, in order to be ready as early as possible in 2015.

WEDNESDAY: Because the tear occurred in a thicker part of the ligament, Parnell may be able to avoid a Tommy John procedure, GM Sandy Alderson told reporters, including ESPNNewYork.com's Adam Rubin (links to Twitter). Parnell will go through a program to see if he can stay free of surgery, with a final determination in six weeks time. 

In the meantime, Alderson said the club will "continue to monitor" free agent relievers but will wait to see how "things shake out" with his current options before making any moves.

TUESDAY: One day into the season, the Mets are already facing the prospect of an extended absence for their closer, as the team announced that Bobby Parnell has an incomplete tear of the medial collateral ligament in his right elbow (All links to Twitter). Parnell will be shut down completely for two weeks and has already received a platelet-rich plasma injection in the elbow, but surgery is a possible outcome. In the wake of the injury, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets that the Mets "will consider all options," including veteran free agent relievers.

The free agent market contains three names that come with significant experience as a Major League closer; Ryan Madson, Joel Hanrahan and Kevin Gregg are all unsigned, though Madson and Hanrahan are each working their way back from arm injuries (Frank Francisco is also available, but for the time being, I'll assume that ill-fated matchup won't be revisited). As Martino notes in the aforementioned tweet, New York watched Hanrahan throw this winter but didn't elect to send scouts to Madson's showcase.

Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that D'Backs right-hander J.J. Putz is "very available" in trades, but he points out that the Mets have already tried that avenue as well in the past (the results were less than spectacular). Sherman hears from scouts that Putz isn't throwing well, and beyond that is the fact that he's set to earn $7MM this season. In a second tweet, he speculates that the Mets won't react by making a big move; the team didn't prioritize the position in the offseason and overvaluing the closer's role isn't GM Sandy Alderson's way, Sherman opines.

For the time being, Jose Valverde will step into the ninth inning for the Mets. After signing a minor league deal this offseason, Valverde had a solid Spring Training and worked 1 1/3 scoreless innings in his first game with the Mets yesterday, including the escape of an inherited bases-loaded jam. The Parnell injury has potentially lucrative ramifications for Valverde, who can reportedly earn up to $1.5MM on top of his $1MM salary based on appearances and games finished (full breakdown here).

Alderson tells Marc Carig of Newsday that a move to the bullpen for Jenrry Mejia isn't an option (Twitter link). Other internal options for the Mets could include Jeurys Familia, Vic Black (though he struggled mightily in Spring Training) and Kyle Farnsworth. For further updates on Parnell and other closer-related news throughout the season, you can follow @closernews on Twitter.



Rosenthal on Angels, Qualifying Offers, Drew, Jays, Putz

The Angels are likely to eclipse the $189MM luxury-tax threshold eventually, despite their efforts to avoid doing so this offseason, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Sources tell the columnist that the Angels have between $13MM and $15MM of space left beneath the cap, figures that are much lower than what will be required to sign Masahiro Tanaka. However, extending Mike Trout at, say, $300MM over 10 years would make it difficult to avoid surpassing the threshold anyway, so the Angels may as well do so now, Rosenthal surmises. Here's more from his new column:

  • This offseason's big contracts for less-than-durable stars like Jacoby EllsburyCurtis Granderson and Brian McCann show that position players can earn more as free agents than they would with club-friendly, long-term deals. Meanwhile, clubs appear increasingly willing to move players who resist extensions. For example, sources tell Rosenthal that rival teams have asked about Astros catcher Jason Castro, who could be moved if Houston is unable to ink him long-term.
  • Qualifying offers appear to have suppressed the market for players such as Nelson Cruz and Kendrys Morales, frustrating player representatives. Potential fixes to the system include guaranteeing that free agents receive a qualifying offer only once, or ensuring that teams signing free agents who received qualifying offers lose only draft picks and not their associated bonus-pool amounts. The current system will remain in place for another two offseasons, Rosenthal notes.
  • Stephen Drew appears to be a fit for the Mets, rival executives say, despite the club's insistence that it will consider Ruben Tejada for its starting shortstop job.
  • The Blue Jays remain among the favorites to sign either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez, despite their quiet offseason thus far. The Jays could acquire as many as two starters before the offseason is over, Rosenthal reports. In addition to upgrading through free agency, the club has also discussed trades for the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and other starters.
  • The Diamondbacks could trade J.J. Putz after acquiring Addison Reed from the White Sox. Swapping the righty for Yankees outfielder Ichiro Suzuki is one potential deal, or Putz could be packaged with other players in a deal for a starter such as Yovani Gallardo of the Brewers.

Stark On Howie Kendrick, Cubs, D’Backs

ESPN's Jayson Stark begins his latest column with a look at the Biogenesis situation.  As Joel Sherman of the New York Post first reported, suspension announcements are not expected today.  Sherman expects the announcements to come Thursday or Friday.  In Stark's opinion, the Rangers are acting like a team that knows what Nelson Cruz will do if suspended, in that their aggressive search for a bat suggests he might serve a suspension now to preserve his free agent value.  Meanwhile, the Tigers' lack of pursuit of a backup plan to shortstop Jhonny Peralta suggests he'll appeal.  Elsewhere in Stark's column:

  • The Dodgers and Angels, who haven't made a trade in 20 years, had a "mostly casual conversation" regarding Halos second baseman Howie Kendrick.  There are no indications a deal is in the works.
  • The Angels are at least listening on infielders Kendrick, Erick Aybar, and Alberto Callaspo, and seeking high quality big league ready pitching in return.
  • The Cubs could move Kevin Gregg and Nate Schierholtz, but are extremely unlikely to trade lefty reliever James Russell and there's just about zero chance of a Jeff Samardzija trade.
  • Pitchers Ian Kennedy and J.J. Putz of the Diamondbacks and Kyle Farnsworth of the Rays "have suddenly been made available."  Trading Kennedy would allow Arizona to clear around $1.4MM toward another move.  Are they that hard up for cash?

Diamondbacks To Extend J.J. Putz

The Diamondbacks have agreed to sign J.J. Putz to a one-year extension that will keep him in Arizona through 2014, the team announced via Twitter. The LSW Baseball client will reportedly receive a $7MM salary in 2014.

Putz

Putz, who turns 36 next month, pitched to a 2.82 ERA, 10.8 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and 45.7 percent ground-ball rate with 32 saves for the Snakes last season. In 518 2/3 Major League innings between the Mariners, Mets, White Sox and Diamondbacks, Putz has a 3.04 ERA, 9.5 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 with 183 saves.

Putz signed a two-year deal worth $10MM to take over as Arizona's closer following the 2010 season. Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers exercised a $6.5MM club option on Putz back in October. He will be joined by flamethrower David Hernandez and one-time shutdown closer Heath Bell — acquired from the Marlins in a three-team trade — at the back-end of Arizona's bullpen in 2013.

Towers sang Putz's praises in a press release:

“J.J. has provided much-needed leadership and stability for our bullpen the last two years. He has been an integral piece and helped set the foundation for our bullpen’s turnaround so we are excited to have him in place the next two seasons.”

The move is just one of many in what's been a busy season for Towers and his staff. As MLBTR's Transaction Tracker shows, the team has traded away Chris Young and Trevor Bauer, acquiring Bell, Cliff Pennington, Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson. On the free agent front, they've signed Brandon McCarthy, Cody Ross, Eric Chavez, Eric Hinske and Wil Nieves to Major League contracts.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was the first to report the financial terms of Putz's extension (Twitter link). Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Diamondbacks Notes: Putz, Bell, Towers

The Diamondbacks started off the day by finalizing the long awaited decision of exercising J.J. Putz's $6.5MM option for 2013.  It turns out that was small potatoes compared to the move they would pull later in the day – a three-team deal sending Chris Young to Oakland and bringing in Heath Bell from Miami.  Here's more on the D'Backs..

  • Some scouts are already speculating that Putz could be on the trading block after Bell's arrival, tweets Scott Miller of CBSSports.com.  However, Miller notes that General Manager Kevin Towers is a fan of strong bullpens and would relish the chance to have David Hernandez, Bell, and Putz as the club's 7-8-9 relievers (Twitter link).
  • Towers believes that Bell can help "get the ball" to Putz, tweets Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times.  That would seem to infer that Putz is still part of the club's plan for 2013, but the closer would absolutely have value if the D'Backs chose to shop him.
  • Prior to the deal being announced, Towers told Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (via Twitter) that he will talk to Putz about a contract extension.  "I hope he finishes his career in a Diamondbacks uniform," said the GM.

Diamondbacks Exercise 2013 Option For J.J. Putz

The Diamondbacks have exercised their $6.5MM club option for J.J. Putz, the team announced. The right-hander is represented by LSW Baseball and would have been owed a $1.5MM buyout had Arizona declined to bring him back for 2013.

Putz, 35, has pitched to a 2.48 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 in two years with the D'Backs while saving 77 games in 86 chances. Injuries have been a problem for the veteran closer throughout his career, and he missed close to four weeks with elbow inflammation this season. Despite the injury, the net price of just $5MM was far too good to pass up. Arizona signed Putz to a two-year, $10MM contract during the 2010-2011 offseason.


Derrick Hall On Diamondbacks’ Offseason Priorities, Miley As ROY

Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall recently held an online town hall meeting with fans (transcript courtesy of MLB.com). Here are the highlights:

  • Hall says there will not be a major overhaul of the Diamondbacks this offseason, but more of a tweaking. The focus of that tweaking will be the left side of the infield and "it is safe to say" a left-handed bullpen specialist. The club will look to do so through trades. Hall, however, would like to keep their pitching (both starting rotation and bullpen) and any of their young talent, so look for the Snakes to use their outfield logjam as trade bait.
  • One outfielder mentioned as a trade candidate is Chris Young. "If we decide to move anyone, we always take chemistry into account and how such a move will impact our club," Hall explained. Neither the fans nor Hall brought up the Justin Upton trade rumors.
  • On picking up the $6.5 MM option on closer J.J. Putz for next season, "It is likely a priority of ours," said Hall. "He has been outstanding. He is a great leader in that bullpen and mentor to our relievers. We have had so much confidence turning the ball over to him to close out games, it is hard to imagine us not doing so."
  • Admitting his bias, Hall said left-hander Wade Miley should win the NL Rookie of the Year award, "He was fantastic and clearly our most consistent starter. He was dominant most of the season, which is difficult to accomplish as a rookie."
  • Though the team finished third after winning the NL West a year ago, Hall saw some positives in 2012, "I think we all expected more. But we had some great individual years when you look at Aaron Hill, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero, Jason Kubel, J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and Wade Miley, to name a few. And our Minor League system is very strong. We had five teams make the playoffs and they brought home four different championships."

Diamondbacks Notes: Upton, Bauer, Putz, Drew

The latest on the Diamondbacks as General Manager Kevin Towers and Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick opened up a bit on the club's plans..

  • Towers told Barry M. Bloom of MLB.com that he has a very open-minded approach to improving the roster and wouldn't rule out a trade of Justin Upton.  However, finding the right deal could prove to be difficult.  "It's probably going to be very difficult to move him. We've explored it the last couple of years and there wasn't a deal that presented itself that made sense, that we felt was going to make us better," said Towers.
  • Kendrick had a similar take in an interview today on KTAR radio, tweets Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic.  "I would think it’s highly likely that we’ll see Justin Upton in a Diamondbacks uniform next year," Kendrick said.  Kendrick also emphasized the club's never-say-never attitude to trades (Twitter link).
  • Kendrick seemed to give a less-than-enthusiastic evaluation of right-hander Trevor Bauer.  "In an employer/employee situation it’s incumbent on employee to make adjustments to satisfy the needs of the employer," said Kendrick, according to Piecoro (via Twitter).
  • When asked if Bauer has a future with the D'Backs, Kendrick responded, "Well he has talent," (via Twitter).  Kendrick wasn't asked to expound on his specific issues with the former third-overall pick.
  • The club has time to decide on J.J. Putz's $6.5MM option for next season, but Towers termed it a "no-brainer" based on his performance this year and the going rate for closers of his caliber.  If Arizona has a sudden change of heart, Putz can be bought out for just $1.5MM.
  • Despite falling short of expectations this season, Towers told Bloom that he still believes that the club isn't far from contending once again.  The GM also chalked up some of the disappointment for the 2012 season to raised expectations heading into the year.
  • Asked about his shopping list for this offseason, Towers said that he will likely target a shortstop to replace Stephen Drew.  He doesn't see Willie Bloomquist as a full-time answer given his injury history and John McDonald probably couldn't fill the void at the age of 38.  Beyond that, Towers would like to bolster the pitching, but any veteran pitching they acquire would happen via trade.  Towers will also look to upgrade at third base this winter.
  • Towers won't completely rule out a return for Drew via free agency, but it's not likely seeing as how they already opted to move him this year.
  • In general, Towers believes that he will look to improve via trade rather than free agency.  The club could free up additional cash by moving an outfielder as they are high on both A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton, though they should already have enough money to contend next season as it stands.