Towers Also Adds Putz

Kevin Towers is a man on a mission when it comes to upgrading the Arizona Diamondbacks’ pen. After acquiring two relievers via trade, Towers turned around and signed the team’s prospective closer in the form of J.J. Putz. Ken Rosenthal reports the deal to be worth $10 million over two years, although $1.5 million of that is in the form of a third-year buyout; the maximum value of the deal is $15 million.

Saturday marks a year since Putz signed a one-season pact with the White Sox. That deal was to reestablish his value as one of the league’s most fearsome relievers. This deal is a reward for accomplishing the feat, as Putz appeared in 60 games and maintained a 2.52 FIP. More importantly and perhaps unexpectedly is that Putz managed to stay healthy. The 2010 season marked the first time Putz had topped 50 innings in a season since 2007 (although he sniffed the total in 2008; finishing at 46).

The common refrain about relievers being risky applies here twice over. Ignoring Putz’s inveterate propensity to land on the disabled list; is Arizona really a team that should commit $10 million to any reliever? As San Diego proved last season, sometimes a stellar bullpen and a group of position players that look unspectacular can sometimes result in zaniness. Commend Towers for reserving the option on a third year, especially in a market where Joaquin Benoit received three guaranteed years on a whim.

The WAR-to-dollars exchange means that Putz will need about two wins to be worth the $10 million. When healthy – and that really is the key to the entire deal – he should exceed that threshold – even one healthy season could earn the money. What’s more, the deal is signed before Rafael Soriano presumably sets the market for free agent closers (non-Rivera division). Given that Soriano made $7 million last season, it’s not inconceivable to think he’s heading for a new contract worth $10 million a season.

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14 Responses to “Towers Also Adds Putz”

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  1. ECN is gay says:


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  2. Keith-in-Law says:

    I like putz

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  3. Chris K says:

    As a Sox fan I’m sad to see Putz leave (especially when KW has previously pissed away money for less than stellar relievers like Scott Linebrink). At least we get a supplemental draft pick, I guess.

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  4. Victor Frankenstein says:

    I expected to read about how the Blanks had reacquired Brandon Medders. Guess I got my putzes crossed.

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  5. puffy says:

    Can you guys add monthly totals to your game log page? It would make it easier read. thanks.

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  6. If you can keep Putz healthy he is a quality person for the bullpen. He has extreme focus.

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  7. phoenix2042 says:

    im really curious about soriano’s next contract.

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  8. BillWallace says:

    This seems like a steal to me. RP WAR is worth more than other WAR, so he really just needs one season like 2010 and he’ll already have earned his whole contract.

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    • Cheese Whiz says:

      RP WAR is worth more than other WAR? How do you figure? A win is a win, that is one of the fundamental precepts here at Fangraphs.

      I remember some people trying to make the case here last year that relievers are under valued due to leverage, but it wasn’t very convincing. Fangraphs does give relievers in high leverage situations a boost, but it’s not as big as you might think due to the concept of chaining. This means that you are not comparing the reliever to a replacement level player, but to the next best reliever in the bullpen.

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      • BillWallace says:

        Not convincing to you maybe, but I’m convinced. RPs are really the only players that can be leveraged much, but closers are leveraged quite a lot. If you look at the numbers and don’t consider chaining it’s quite a lot, I forget the figures, but maybe 2-2.5x. Chaining reduces it quite a bit, but it’s still an important effect.

        If I have a bullpen who’s best guy is 1.2 WAR over 65 IP and you give me a guy who can give 2.0 WAR over 65 IP, it’s trivial to leverage him to add more than 2.0 wpa to the overall bullpen’s contribution to the team.

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  9. JJ Schlong says:

    Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun said that it never occurred to him to tell people that his name was pronounced “Shmook,” a la Putz’s pronunciation as “Puts”.

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