J.J. Putz Rumors

Closer Options For 2013

Last offseason's Hot Stove was notable for the hefty contracts signed by the likes of Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, but the abundance of closers in free agency was an interesting secondary arc. A few stoppers signed for big bucks, and if there were any takeaway, it was that many teams have not necessarily adopted a frugal philosophy with respect to bullpen spending.

The upcoming offseason's class of free-agent closers is pretty interesting, too, and several of its potential members have options for 2013. Here's a list of those pitchers and a very preliminary look at whether their options figure to be picked up:

  • Matt Capps (2013 age: 29), $6MM club option with a $250K buyout: Capps' signing this offseason was maligned after he pitched poorly in 2011, but the Twins' bullpen was pretty barren, so it may have been a devil-you-know situation. He's pitching roughly the same so far this year, but the guess here is that if they were willing to bring him back after last year, they'll be willing to do so again. He could be a trade candidate, but I'm not sure there will be takers.
  • Ryan Madson (32), $11MM mutual option with a $2.5MM buyout: The Reds will be on the hook for at least $2.5MM, so will they want to gamble an extra $8.5MM on a guy coming off Tommy John surgery? With Aroldis Chapman and Sean Marshall in the back of the Reds' bullpen, I think they'll pass.
  • J.J. Putz (36), $6.5MM club option with a $1.5MM buyout: Putz is getting on in years, and his health is always a concern (including a DL stint during his brilliant 2011), but the right-hander is really good when he's on the mound. If he can get through this year relatively unscathed in terms of injury, which is no sure thing, I think the Diamondbacks will roll the dice, seeing as the penalty for snake eyes is relatively low.
  • Joakim Soria (29), $8MM club option with a $750K buyout: Similar to the Reds and Madson, the Royals will have a tough decision to make with Soria coming off (a second) Tommy John surgery. They've been very reluctant to part with him via trade previously, so I'm thinking they'll pick up the option just to save face and see what he can yield — either in terms of on-field contributions or perhaps a trade later in the season if he comes back healthy.
  • Huston Street (29), $9MM mutual option with a $500K buyout if club declines: The Padres will likely look to trade Street before this year's deadline, so his recent injury development must make them a little nervous. He has plenty of time to get healthy before the deadline, though, and I'd expect the Friars to move hard to flip him. If they can't, they could always pick up the option and then look to trade him again next summer.
  • Grant Balfour (35), $4.5MM club option with a $350K buyout: The A's will be shopping Balfour hard before the deadline, as he'll draw plenty of interest, as MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith recently noted. Wherever he is, his option will look pretty attractive, with his durability and effectiveness probably trumping any concerns over his age.
  • Rafael Soriano (33), $14MM player option or a $1.5MM buyout: Soriano is very likely to exercise this option, meaning the Yankees will almost certainly be paying this hefty tab in 2013. The temptation may be there for Soriano to decline and rake in another two- or three-year deal elsewhere on the market, but he can get one of those after 2013, assuming for health.

Quick Hits: MVP, V-Mart, Wang, Bullpens

A few stray items of note on this Thursday evening …


Top Interleague Acquisitions For 2011

Another round of interleague play begins tonight, so let’s take a look at some players who switched leagues last winter and are off to hot starts in 2011. Here are a few of the players thriving in new leagues – and what it cost to acquire them:

Free Agents

  • Cliff Lee – It cost $120MM in guaranteed money and a first round pick for the Phillies to reacquire Lee. He has a 3.84 ERA with a 68K/13BB ratio through 58 2/3 innings.
  • Adam Dunn – After a slow start, Dunn has been hitting like his usual self this month and now has a .203/.321/.368 line. He cost the White Sox $56MM and the 23rd overall selection in this year's draft.
  • J.J. Putz – Putz, one of many relievers to sign multiyear deals last winter, is living up to Arizona's $10MM investment. He has a 2.12 ERA with 9.0 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 through 17 innings of work.
  • Lance Berkman – Berkman wasn't out of the National League for long and he must be happy he's back. Though currently sidelined, the 35-year-old has a .349/.455/.683 line and is among the league leaders in many offensive categories. Well worth the Cards’ $8MM investment. 
  • Russell Martin – Easily one of the offseason's best bargains, Martin has a .268/.371/.480 line. Not only did he cost just $4MM, he's under team control in 2012.
  • Jeff Francis – Francis has a 4.83 ERA with a 27K/10BB ratio through 54 innings and he cost just $2MM. 

Trades

  • Adrian Gonzalez – Gonzalez has a .314/.370/.560 line back in the American League, but he didn’t come cheap. The Padres obtained top pitching prospect Casey Kelly, former first rounder Reymond Fuentes and Anthony Rizzo, who is tearing through the Pacific Coast League. Rizzo has a .371/.443/.702 line through 174 plate appearances and it won't be long before he's making an impact at Petco Park.
  • Shaun Marcum – Marcum is pitching better than ever for the Brewers and the Blue Jays are no doubt pleased with what 21-year-old Brett Lawrie’s doing to Triple-A pitching. The #40 prospect in the game, according to Baseball America, Lawrie has a .335/.395/.607 line with nine homers and as many steals.
  • Matt Garza – Garza leads the National League with 11.0 K/9 and has a 3.72 ERA through 55 2/3 innings, though it took Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld and Brandon Guyer to acquire him. We've all heard about Fuld’s hot start and Guyer homered in his first MLB game.


Quick Hits: Putz, Castillo, Varitek, Pirates, Ortiz

Links for Saturday evening..


Diamondbacks Sign J.J. Putz

The Diamondbacks signed J.J. Putz to a two-year, $10MM deal with an option for 2013. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (Twitter links), MLB.com's Steve Gilbert and Jon Heyman of SI.com all reported on the deal, which is official now that the reliever passed his physical. Putz earns $4MM in 2011, $4.5MM in 2012 and either $6.5MM or a $1.5MM buyout in 2013, according to Rosenthal. LSW Baseball represents Putz, who posted a 2.83 ERA with 10.8 K/9 in 54 innings last year.

The White Sox offered the Type B free agent arbitration, so they'll obtain a supplementary first round pick for losing Putz.  Back on November 10th, two MLBTR writers predicted Putz would sign with the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks, who have prioritized the reconstruction of their bullpen, already added relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio today.


Diamondbacks Notes: Hampton, Lee, Crain

6:04pm: GM Kevin Towers says he has made Mike Hampton an offer, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter).

2:59pm: The D'Backs are "pushing hard" to sign Putz to a two-year deal with a club option for 2013, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.

2:36pm: GM Kevin Towers thinks he'll acquire a closer this week, tweets Yahoo's Steve HensonESPN's Buster Olney tweets that "good progress" is being made with Putz on that front.

11:28am: The Diamondbacks have a vacancy at first base, and they're still looking to add a closer despite acquiring David Hernandez.  The latest:


D’backs May Be Nearing Deal With J.J. Putz

The Diamondbacks have serious interest in J.J. Putz and may be close to signing the reliever to a multiyear deal. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter) that the team's interest is serious and MLB.com's Steve Gilbert reports that the sides are nearing a two-year deal with an option for 2013.

Earlier today, reports indicated that the Diamondbacks have serious interest in the reliever. The Diamondbacks, who have prioritized the reconstruction of their bullpen, already added relievers David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio today.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Decisions

23 American League free agents were offered arbitration on November 23rd.  Four of those - Joaquin Benoit, John Buck, Victor Martinez, and Javier Vazquez - already have new contract agreements.  Current free agent Kevin Gregg has chosen to decline.  The remaining 18 AL free agents offered arbitration will have their decisions noted here and in our tracker.


American League Free Agent Arbitration Offers

10 American League teams have free agent arbitration offer decisions to make, and we'll group them in this post.  For a fantastic customizable chart with all 65 Type A/B free agents and their decisions in real-time, click here.


Diamondbacks Interested In J.J. Putz

The Diamondbacks had one of the worst bullpens in baseball history last season (league-worst 5.74 ERA), something new GM Kevin Towers will undoubtedly try to correct this offseason. Part of the solution could be free agent reliever J.J. Putz, whom the D'Backs have interest in according to Mark Gonzales of The Chicago Tribune

Putz, 34 in February, was fantastic with the White Sox this year. He struck out 65 and walked just 13 unintentionally in 54 innings, pitching to a 2.83 ERA and holding opponents to a .204/.261/.313 batting line against. He did spend 16 days on the disabled list with knee tendinitis, a year after having bone spurs removed from his elbow. It's not long ago that Putz was one of the game's elite closers, a role he could easily fill in Arizona.

As Gonzales notes, Putz resides in nearby Peoria, something that will surely be attractive to the righty. The D'Backs also plan to pursue another former White Sox and Arizona resident, Paul Konerko. Putz earned $3MM in 2010 and is a Type-B free agent.