November 6th, 2009

Putz and the Tigers, revisited

putz.jpgJason Beck / MLB.com

While Fernando Rodney filed for free agency and Brandon Lyon weighs his options on the open market, the Tigers might well be gaining another option at closer once the Mets make their expected decision to decline now that the Mets formally declined the 2010 option on J.J. Putz.

A year ago, the Tigers were deep in talks with the Mariners for Putz, then Seattle’s closer but on the trading block. A deal with Detroit was supposed to be the dream situation for Putz, the Trenton, Mich. native who pitched at the University of Michigan. But the M’s reportedly wanted both Matt Joyce and Jeff Larish as part of a return package, while the Tigers would only offer Joyce. That opened the door for the Mets to snag Putz in a three-way trade that the Indians helped facilitate to help keep Putz out of the division.

It’s a way different situation now, of course, and Putz as a free agent is just part of it. The Tigers, spurned by Seattle, sent Joyce to the Rays for Edwin Jackson. Putz battled elbow problems all year en route to a disappointing season as a setup man for Francisco Rodriguez.

The Tigers aren’t looking for a high-priced closer, but after two years of injury concerns, Putz has the chance to be more of a low-risk, high-reward signing. On Putz’s side, it’s believed he would not only enjoy a chance to pitch for his hometown team, but welcome the chance to close again. It could be quite a match.

For now, it’s just theoretical. Putz hasn’t filed for free agency yet, and once he does, the Tigers can only talk interest and not contract terms with him until Nov. 20.

On a side note, looking back at the Putz trade, the Mariners had by far the best of that deal thanks to a player who was little more than a side mention in the deal. Franklin Gutierrez went from Cleveland to Seattle, got a full-time job in the M’s outfield and proceeded to set career highs with a .283 average, 18 homers, 70 RBIs and 16 stolen bases while playing stellar defense in center.

Tigers part ways with Thames, Treanor

Marcus Thames’ Tigers tenure is likely over. The team removed him from the 40-man roster Friday, the first step towards making the slugging outfielder a free agent.

The move was part of the Tigers’ maneuverings to prepare their 40-man roster. Catcher Matt Treanor also was taken off the roster and will become a free agent. The moves free up spots for Reliever Joel Zumaya and infielder Jeff Larish both of whom were reinstated from the 60-day disabled list as required.

Infield prospect Michael Hollimon also was taken off the DL, but he was outrighted to Triple-A Toledo. Pitching prospect Jay Sborz, who would’ve been a minor league free agent, was added to the 40-man roster.

Thames was eligible for arbitration and was thus expected to be non-tendered this offseason. From that standpoint, Friday’s move makes him a free agent sooner than he would’ve been had the Tigers waited until the December deadline to offer a contract. Nonetheless, it likely ends a career that included several big home runs and torrid stretches in the Tigers lineup, though never culminating in the everyday role he would’ve liked.

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