J.J. Putz Rumors
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.
- The Diamondbacks are "looking hard" at Derrek Lee for their first base opening, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
- The D'Backs are eyeing free agents J.J. Putz and Jesse Crain as possible closers, tweets Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com. They're not in on Brian Fuentes, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.
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.
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.
- Cliff Lee (A) declined the Rangers' offer, as expected.
- Miguel Olivo will decline the Blue Jays' offer, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Jason Frasor (A) will accept the team's offer, according to Mike Wilner of the FAN 590. Scott Downs (A) will decline the Blue Jays' offer, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reported earlier that Jason Frasor would either sign a multiyear deal or accept arb (Twitter link).
- Adrian Beltre will decline arbitration from the Red Sox, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Felipe Lopez (B) will also decline an offer of arbitration, reports WEEI's Rob Bradford.
- Carl Pavano (A) has officially turned down arbitration, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff (on Twitter). Orlando Hudson (B) will decline the Twins' offer of arbitration, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune tweets of "strong indications" Jesse Crain (B) will also decline.
- A source tells Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times that Paul Konerko (A) will decline arbitration (Twitter link). J.J. Putz (B) declined arbitration from the White Sox, according to MLB.com's Scott Merkin (on Twitter).
- Chad Qualls (B) and Carl Crawford (A) have declined arbitration, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times (on Twitter). Grant Balfour (A) turned down arbitration, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter). As anticipated, Randy Choate (B) declined the Rays' offer, according to Newsday's Ken Davidoff. ESPN's Buster Olney predicted the decision earlier today. Rafael Soriano (A) will decline the Rays' arbitration offer, tweets SI's Jon Heyman. Brad Hawpe (B) will decline the Rays' offer as well, tweets SI's Jon Heyman.
- Frank Francisco (A) will accept the Rangers' offer, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
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.
- The Blue Jays offered arbitration to Scott Downs (A) Jason Frasor (A) Kevin Gregg (B) Miguel Olivo (B), according to MLB.com's Gregor Chisolm (on Twitter).
- The Twins offered arbitration to Carl Pavano (A), Jesse Crain (B) and Orlando Hudson (B) and declined to offer arbitration to Matt Guerrier (A), Brian Fuentes (B) and Jon Rauch (B), according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter).
- The Rays offered arbitration to Grant Balfour (A), Carl Crawford (A), Rafael Soriano (A), Randy Choate (B), Brad Hawpe (B) and Chad Qualls (B), according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. They did not offer Dan Wheeler (A) or Carlos Pena (B) arbitration. It seems possible that Hawpe has agreed in advance to turn down arbitration.
- The Orioles won't offer arbitration to Koji Uehara (B) or Kevin Millwood (B), according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links).
- The Angels declined to offer Hideki Matsui (B) arbitration, the team announced.
- The Rangers offered arbitration to Cliff Lee (A) and Frank Francisco (A), but not to Vladimir Guerrero (A) and Bengie Molina (A), according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
- The Yankees will offer arbitration to Javier Vazquez (B), but not to any of their other free agents, according to Ken Davidoff of Newsday on Twitter. Andy Pettitte (A), Derek Jeter (A), Mariano Rivera (A), Lance Berkman (B) and Kerry Wood (B) were the team's other ranked free agents. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported that the Yankees would offer Vazquez arbitration and noted that the right-hander has agreed to reject the offer, a common gentleman's agreement that can take place with Type B free agents. Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger first reported on Twitter that the Yankees would not offer Jeter arbitration.
- The Red Sox offered arbitration to Adrian Beltre (A), Victor Martinez (A) and Felipe Lopez (B), but not to Mike Lowell (B) or Jason Varitek (B), according to the team.
- The White Sox offered arbitration to Paul Konerko (A) and J.J. Putz (B), but not to A.J. Pierzynski (A) or Manny Ramirez (A) according to the team (on Twitter).
- As expected, the Tigers announced that they will not offer arbitration to any of their free agents, including Scott Boras clients Magglio Ordonez (A), Johnny Damon (B), and Gerald Laird (B).
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.
Adding right-handed reliever J.J. Putz last December for a $3MM guarantee was a brilliant move by White Sox GM Kenny Williams. Putz's stock is back up after a lost 2009; let's take a look.
- In four of the last five seasons, including last year, Putz struck out more than ten batters per nine innings. His control with the Sox this year returned to an acceptable level, at 2.5 walks per nine. Putz posted a solid 48.5% groundball rate, his best since '06. He had no problems getting left-handed hitters out. His 2.83 ERA was well-deserved.
- Putz has closing experience from 2006-08 with the Mariners. With an average fastball velocity of 94.0, he can be intimidating in the ninth inning.
- He's a Type B free agent, so he won't cost a draft pick to sign regardless of whether the White Sox offer arbitration.
- Putz, 34 in February, hasn't reached 55 innings in a season since '07. His only ailment this year was a knee injury, but he had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow in June of '09.
- It may have been related to the elbow injury, but Putz walked 5.6 per nine innings from 2008-09. He walked 4.8 per nine over the last two months of this season.
- Potentially, Putz could seek a multiyear deal or a salary matching his '09 base of $5MM.
Closing jobs are hard to come by, but my guess is that Putz will instruct his agent at LSW Baseball to seek such an opportunity first. That could mean the Rays, Blue Jays, Angels, Braves, Marlins, or Diamondbacks. He could also stay close to home and sign with the Tigers, or set up for teams such as the Red Sox, Yankees, Rangers, Cubs, or Cardinals. Two years and $10MM seems plausible.
The Phillies are scouting Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz of the White Sox, according to Bruce Levine of ESPNChicago.com. Philadelphia is "among a couple of teams" looking at the White Sox and trying to project which players will be available if they are unable to get back into the AL Central race in the next few weeks.
Jenks and Putz would help solidify the back end of the Phillies' bullpen, which is their main area of concern. Jenks, 29, has 12.0 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 with a 5.40 ERA in 16 appearances this season. However, he has looked strong in his last three outings where he surrendered two hits and no runs. Putz, 33, has a 3.95 ERA with 11.9 K/9 and 2.0 BB/9 in 13.2 innings.
Jenks will make $7.5MM after avoiding arbitration with the White Sox this offseason. Tim recently wrote that Jenks is a non-tender candidate. Meanwhile, Putz is set to earn $3MM in 2010 with the opportunity to earn more through incentives.
Following a team meeting on Wednesday, White Sox GM Kenny Williams told reporters that he has been politely turning down overtures from other teams to make a deal. However, if they continue to struggle, it's hard to imagine Williams keeping that stance.
In his latest Full Count video for FOX Sports, Ken Rosenthal says that retirement could become a more realistic option for Ken Griffey Jr. if the 40-year-old continues to see less playing time. Rosenthal adds that, during their past two contract negotiations, Griffey and agent Brian Goldberg have discussed with the Mariners "how a phase-out might occur," since Griffey hopes to continue his relationship with the team after his retirement. Here are Rosenthal's other hot stove notes:
- Although Carl Crawford likely won't be a Ray past this season, the club has a chance to retain Carlos Pena. With Adam Dunn, Derrek Lee, and Paul Konerko eligible for free agency after this year, and Albert Pujols, Adrian Gonzalez, and Prince Fielder potentially hitting the open market in 2011, there are a slew of alternatives to Pena. A power-starved club like the Mariners and Orioles could make a run at Pena, but it's still possible he ends up back in Tampa Bay, assuming there's mutual interest.
- If the White Sox decide to blow up their roster, it may happen sooner rather than later, given the ten and five rights that will kick in for A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Buehrle this summer. Pierzynski, Konerko, J.J. Putz, and Andruw Jones would be the most likely trade candidates.
- Although the Padres spoke to Jermaine Dye in the offseason, they'd prefer to stick to their current, younger players. If they decide to add a bat, it's more likely to be an active outfielder than the inactive Dye.
MLB.com's Scott Merkin reports that White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen seems satisfied to stand pat with the current composition of his roster, a decision that would leave Chicago without the everyday DH that seemed to be the club's top priority this winter.
Guillen tells Merkin that he likes the idea of using several different players (such as Andruw Jones, Paul Konerko, Mark Kotsay, Jayson Nix, or even Omar Vizquel) as a designated hitter depending on matchups or, in Konerko's case, to rest him without taking him out of the lineup altogether.
Chicago GM Kenny Williams doesn't sound entirely convinced with this plan, but seems to be willing to acquisece to Guillen on this front. Williams told Merkin, "I don't want to do anything that conflicts with what my manager wants....Regardless if I think there might be a need for another left-handed bat in middle of the lineup, he's the one in there, and I fully support how he sees the situation fitting and piecing it together."
It's not like the Southsiders haven't been active this offseason --- they acquired Mark Teahen and Juan Pierre in trades and signed Jones, Vizquel and J.J. Putz. But given all of the high-profile designated hitter options on the market this winter, it's safe to say that White Sox fans were counting on a bit more than just Jones and Vizquel as DH upgrades. Do you think that Williams should, in fact, look to acquire that left-handed bat or do you agree with Guillen and think the Sox roster is fine as it is?
Rounding up the first batch of miscellaneous Sunday links....
- The Rays agreed to terms with reliever Grant Balfour, according to Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. Balfour signed a one-year, $2.05MM deal, avoiding arbitration.
- The Baltimore Orioles are still searching for a closer, writes Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun. Zrebiec suggests that Fernando Rodney and Kevin Gregg could be atop the O's list of targets.
- MASN's Roch Kubatko runs down the Orioles' closing options too, adding new free agent Matt Capps to the mix.
- Meanwhile, Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has reaction from GM Neal Huntington, who says that media reports of the 26-year-old being non-tendered hurt his trade value. Huntington also said that the Bucs would "love" to have him back in the bullpen - at the right price. Capps isn't on the Yankees radar, says Marc Carig of the Newark Star-Ledger (via Twitter).
- John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press writes that the Tigers' closer search also continues. The team was looking at J.J. Putz, but backed off because of health questions, not money concerns.
- Tuesday could be "Judgment Day" for Aroldis Chapman, according to MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Chapman will throw a session with a slew of teams expected to be in attendance.
- Within a piece which focuses on yesterday's non-tender decisions, ESPN.com's Buster Olney mentions that a handful of clubs are interested in Brian Giles, including the Yankees and Reds. It's still up in the air whether teams will be willing to offer Giles more than a minor league contract.
- One interesting tidbit from the latest article by Newsday's Ken Davidoff: An AL West official tells Davidoff that he'd like to see Jered Weaver, rather than Joe Saunders, leaving the division in a potential Roy Halladay trade offer. I have to think Jays fans would agree. Both pitchers were selected 12th overall in their respective drafts: Saunders in 2002 and Weaver in 2004.
- Speaking of the AL West, Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports thinks it's the most intriguing division for hot stove news this winter.
- David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (via Twitter) says that the Angels are a possible destination for Derek Lowe if they cannot re-sign John Lackey. Other possibilities include the Mariners, Red Sox and Yanks. O'Brien also suggests the Mets, provided that the Braves are willing to trade within their division.