The Seattle Times’ Geoff Baker is reporting that closer J.J. Putz may soon be on his way out of Seattle in a potential trade with a number of suitors. The Tigers and Cardinals are supposedly the biggest pursuers of the right-hander.
The Mariners would be looking to obtain Major League-ready prospects in a deal, such as the Tigers Matt Joyce and Jeff Larish. The name of Cardinals outfielder Rick Ankiel has also been thrown around (though could not be confirmed by Baker).
This presents an interesting scenario for the 2009 Mariners. Without Putz at the back end of their bullpen, the M’s may be encouraged to turn Brandon Morrow back into a reliever. This would seemingly be counter-productive to the work Morrow has done in becoming a starter over the past year after relieving in 2007 and the first part of 2008. Another possible closer solution were Putz to exit would be unsigned first-round draft pick Josh Fields. The Mariners have yet to agree on a deal with Fields, however, and there’s a chance he may not be with the club when Spring Training kicks off in February.
From a rebuilding standpoint, the trading of Putz would be a smart move for the M’s front office. Closers tend to be overrated no matter how great their “stuff” may be, and Putz is no exception. He proved his vulnerability during an injury-plagued 2008 season. If the Mariners can obtain two solid prospects in return for J.J., they will have made a good deal. We’ll see what happens from here.