A year ago at the Winter Meetings, then-Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes inquired about reliever J.J. Putz. After a disastrous 2009 season where the bullpen struggled to close out games, Byrnes needed a closer.
At the time the Diamondbacks offered Putz a one-year contract worth just under $3 million. Putz declined the offer, opting to sign with the Chicago White Sox where he appeared in 60 games, throwing 54 innings, striking out 65 while walking just 15.
Putz gave the White Sox an opportunity to stay in games late and began approaching the dominating nature he had with the Seattle Mariners where he earned 101 saves in 129 opportunities.
This year the Diamondbacks found themselves once again in desperate need of a closer. For the second straight year Putz was on Arizona’s radar. This time, General Manager Kevin Towers was not going to fail where his predecessor did.
The Diamondbacks and Putz have reportedly agreed to a two-year contract worth an estimated $10 million with a club option for 2013. That is much higher than a year ago, but warranted given the performance Putz put in with the White Sox.
Not only did he have a 2.83 ERA in the 2010 season but he also set a White Sox record 27 consecutive scoreless appearances. Arizona is hoping that dominance will continue for the next two plus seasons.
For the second straight day the Diamondbacks have focused on the league’s worst bullpen. Earlier they traded for two young right handers from the Baltimore Orioles and now they have a much-needed closer.
When Towers was asked what area of the team he would now focus on, he stated “More bullpen.” Clearly, the Diamondbacks relief corps was more than just one or two players away from being competitive. At this point Arizona may be looking at seven or eight new pitchers in the 2011 bullpen.
Manager Kirk Gibson had best bring a stack of name tags to Salt River Fields at Talking Stick when the Diamondbacks begin Spring Training because there will likely be a lot of new faces in the clubhouse.