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.
David Price showed “strength improvements” in his elbow on Saturday, but Red Sox’ manager John Farrell still doesn’t think the left-hander will be ready to throw by the start of the season — or for a few weeks afterward. According to ESPN’s Scott Lauber, the 31-year-old might not be ready to debut until May at the earliest.
Price hasn’t thrown off of a mound this spring after experiencing soreness in his left elbow on March 1. Surgery doesn’t appear to be necessary, but the Red Sox are playing it extra safe with their No. 3 starter in hopes that rest and rehabilitation will return him to full health sometime during the 2017 season. For now, Price has been restricted to short games of catch until he’s cleared to resume a more rigorous throwing program. Via MLB.com’s Ian Browne:
[There were] strength improvements to the point of putting the ball back in his hand a little more consistently,” said manager John Farrell. “Today’s the first step for that. A short game of catch. That’s what he’s going through. Not off a mound but just to get the arm moving with a ball in flight, and he will continue in this phase for a period of time. There’s no set distance and volume yet to the throws.
The lefty is coming off of a lackluster 2016 season, during which he delivered a 3.99 ERA, 2.0 BB/9 and 8.9 SO/9 over 230 innings for the Red Sox.
Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina is still open to extension talks during the last week of spring training. Once Opening Day rolls around, however, Molina has preemptively nixed any contract negotiations until the end of the 2017 season, when he’s scheduled to hit free agency.
Molina wants to stay with the Cardinals, or so he’s telling reporters, but he’s also “not afraid” to test the free agent market this fall should a deal fail to materialize. Via Goold:
I would love to stay, but at the same time I’m not afraid to go to free agency. I’ve still got many years in the tank. Believe me. I feel great. I feel like a 20-year-old kid. I’m not afraid to go to free agency.
The 34-year-old backstop is entering his final year under contract, though Goold points out that he has a $15 million option for 2018 that he can choose to decline in the event that it’s exercised by the team. He’s reportedly searching for a figure closer to those made by other top catchers like Buster Posey and Russell Martin.
The 2017 season will mark Molina’s 14th year in the Cardinals’ organization, building on a career that has spanned seven All-Star campaigns, nine postseason runs and two World Series championships in St. Louis. He batted .307/.360/.427 with eight home runs and a .787 OPS for the club in 2016.