In case anyone was thinking Arizona’s plan was to let Heath Bell set up for a year and then turn the closer’s role over to him in 2014, the Diamondbacks made it clear Monday that they intend to keep the status quo; they signed J.J. Putz to a one-year, $7 million extension for 2014, the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.
The soon-to-be 36-year-old Putz was already under control for 2013 at $6.5 million after having his club option picked up.
Putz has turned in three straight relatively healthy seasons since missing a chunks of 2008 and ’09 with shoulder problems, though he hasn’t topped 60 innings since 2007. Still very effective, he’s 77-for-86 saving games with a 2.48 ERA in two seasons with the Diamondbacks.
The move means the Diamondbacks’ three top relievers are all signed through 2014. Bell is owed another $21 million, though the Marlins are covering $8 million of that. David Hernandez will make $1.5 million this year and $2 million in 2014.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that the Nationals will ask to speak with Astros’ bench coach Alex Cora after the American League Championship Series concludes on Saturday. This comes on the heels of the news that club manager Dusty Baker will not be returning to the team in 2018.
Cora, 42, has some experience in the Nationals’ organization. He played for the Nats during his last big league stint in 2011, batting .224/.287/.276 through 91 games before announcing his retirement in the spring of 2012. Per Cafardo, he was also offered a player development gig with the club, but has not appeared in any kind of official role with them since his days as a major league infielder. While he’s been lauded for his leadership skills and strong clubhouse presence, he hasn’t acquired any managerial experience since his retirement, save for a handful of games with the Astros where he filled in for A.J. Hinch.
Despite the appeal of having a familiar face in the dugout, the Nationals aren’t the only ones eyeing Cora. The Astros’ coach has already interviewed with the Tigers, Mets and Red Sox this month. Boston appears to be the current favorite to land him and according to at least one source, may even announce his hiring in advance of the World Series next Tuesday.