J.J. Putz Rumors

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. 


  • 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.

Free Agent Stock Watch: J.J. Putz

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.

The Good

  • 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.

The Bad

  • 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.

The Verdict

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.

Phillies Scouting Jenks, Putz

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.

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