UPDATE: Rosenthal reports that Putz will receive a two-year, $10 million contract from the Diamondbacks with a $6.5 million club option for 2013 or a $1.5 million buyout. He’ll earn $4 million in 2011 and $4.5 million in 2012.
6:18 PM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, the Diamondbacks and J.J. Putz have agreed to a two-year contract with a club option for 2013, pending a physical.
3:48 PM: Moments ago during the press conference officially announcing the Mark Reynolds deal, Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers indicated that he expects to acquire a new closer by tomorrow.
And about three seconds later Buster Olney of ESPN.com tweeted that “good progress is being made by the Diamondbacks to bring J.J. Putz in.”
Connecting the dots, Putz to the Diamondbacks as their new closer definitely passes the smell test.
Putz bounced back in a big way this year after struggling with his performance and health for the Mets in 2009, going 7-5 with a 2.83 ERA, .204 opponents’ batting average, and 65 strikeouts in 54 innings for the White Sox. It was the fourth time in five seasons that Putz has racked up more than 10 strikeouts per nine innings, and if you ignore his one-season stint in New York he has a 3.03 career ERA in 377 innings.
Towers was famous for building excellent bullpens during his time in San Diego and he’s already taken steps to fix Arizona’s league-worst relief corps by adding David Hernandez and Kam Mickolio in the Reynolds deal. Bringing in Putz to handle ninth-inning duties would be a huge addition, as he’s been one of baseball’s most dominant relievers when healthy.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.