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December 9, 2008 at 8:54 AM

K-Rod about to set closer’s market

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Those of you wondering about a J.J. Putz deal and what it could take to start the dominos tumbling in that direction should take note of the apparently imminent deal that would see Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez sign with the New York Mets for three years, $37 million. What could this mean for Putz?
Well, it takes one more team off the list of potential suitors for him. We told you last night that the Cleveland Indians are not really contenders for Putz, prefering to go the free-agent route instead. We keep hearing the Cardinals might get in on a Putz deal, but that’s lukewarm at best right now. I’d say the most serious suitors are the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers. Both of those teams have players — multiple players — they could move in the right kind of deal. That’s why the Indians won’t be in on serious Putz talks. They don’t have the bodies they feel they can move.
So, the K-Rod signing. Not quite the bank buster some envisioned it might be a few months ago if the numbers we’re hearing turn out to be accurate. Still a whole lot more than the $5.5 million Putz is owed for next year. But we’ll see what the K-Rod numbers do to the prices commanded by other closers on the market. We know now that they won’t go beyond the $12.35 million annual salary being shown K-Rod, the all-time single-season saves leader. The Tigers are looking at Kerry Wood, as well as Putz. Both are the same age, but if Wood looks for a salary nearly double that of Putz (not to mention the guaranteed commitment beyond next year), the Tigers might be more inclined to ship off players to Seattle.


Right now, we’ll have to see who those Tigers players offered up are. Talk to some people, they’ll tell you that left fielder Matt Joyce and first baseman Jeff Larish are both underwhelming choices. Some scouts see Joyce as a fourth outfielder. Others don’t like the swing Larish has. The Tigers were prepared to offer one or the other up to the Pirates for shortstop Jack Wilson not too long ago. Others are high on both and say they can deliver legitimate power. Throw both into the deal and the M’s could find themselves with a sudden abundance of lefty sluggers.
There isn’t a whole lot in Detroit’s farm system beyond pitcher Rick Porcello and the Tigers aren’t moving him.
So, we’ll see whether anyone can come up with the right fit here. Here’s the Detroit Free Press story on the Tigers’ pursuit of a closer.
The Brewers, as we’ve mentioned before. desperately need starting and bullpen help and would be interested in a Putz deal. But that could come, I’m told, as part of a larger package. The Brewers have a ton of bats (literally) that could be moved in first baseman Prince Fielder, shortstop J.J. Hardy, Class AAA third baseman Mat Gamel, minor league shortstop Alcides Escobar and outfield prospects Lorenzo Cain and Cole Gillespie.
But as I said, that looks like it would be all part of a larger, multiple-player deal. The Brewers like many of Seattle’s starting pitchers as well, with Brandon Morrow topping the list. Anyhow, right now, it’s all just a concept. But it’s one worth keeping an eye on.
Photo Credit: AP

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