Miller: NL Teams Are Pinching Pennies In 2009

Orlando_Hudson The U.S. and world economies have been in a free fall for months now. Major League Baseball free agents seem to be suffering as much as anyone. Okay, not as much as anyone but they’re certainly not getting the deals that they expected when they became free agents. I’m surprised that more high-level free agents aren’t taking short term deals so they can hit the market again when the economy is better. That’s what I would do.

Scott Miller from CBS Sports wrote a nice piece this week about the National League teams and their desire to, effectively, get something for nothing. Notably, the D-Backs have been turned down by Randy Johnson and Jon Garland already. And they signed Felipe Lopez on the cheap to replace Orlando Hudson.

The Washington Nationals have needs in just about every roster spot. They’re waiting in the wings for some of the best remaining free agents like Adam Dunn and Hudson.

The Mets are noted for getting Francisco Rodriguez for far less than anyone expected him to sign for this off-season. And trading for J.J. Putz to avoid paying out for another big free agent reliever, not to mention low-balling Derek Lowe.

Flickr photo courtesy of SD_Dirk

Mets Get Putz From Mariners

The Mets traded for “closer” J.J. Putz from the Seattle Mariners. It took three teams to get the deal done with the breakdown looking like this:

Mets Get: RP J.J. Putz, RP Sean Green, OF Jeremy Reed

Mariners Get: RP Aaron Heilman, OF Franklin Gutierrez, OF Endy Chavez, and four minor leaguers from the Mets- Mike Carp, Jason Vargas, Ezequiel Carrera, and Maikel Cleto

Indians Get: RP Joe Smith, IF Luis Valbuena

Clearly, Putz is the big fish in this deal and he’s due to make $6 million this season with a club option for $8.6 million with a $1 million buyout.
Rosenthal: Putz packing for New York
Rosenthal: Putz packing for New York

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Closer Market Gets Crowded As Hoffman Joins Free Agents

This week Trevor Hoffman joined the ranks of the currently “between contract” closers. It’s a pretty impressive list right now with K-Rod, Brian Fuentes, and Hoffman all free agents. Bobby Jenks and J.J. Putz are rumored to be available for trades as well.

The Mets couldn’t have picked a better time to be in the market for a closer. We haven’t heard any rumors about the Mets making an offer to anyone yet. So we know they’re not immediately jumping into the fire after any of the available free agents.

Hoffman could be a good one year stop-gap until Eddie Kunz is ready to take over the reigns as the closer. Sure, he’ll be 41 years old this year. And his fastball is topping out in the mid to high 80’s now. But he’s still got the great change up. And he’s not far removed from some excellent seasons.

Last season Hoffman had 32 saves with a 3.77 ERA and 1.037 WHIP. Not bad for an old man. The Mets would’ve killed to have someone like that last season after Billy Wagner went down. In 2006, Hoffman had 46 saves and finished second in the Cy Young Award voting and tenth in the NL MVP voting.

I’d rather have Hoffman for one season than Fuentes for three and K-Rod for four or five. The way relief pitchers are up and down from season to season, you just can’t trust them to be consistent over any great length of time.

Omar Minaya should really think about getting into a short-term deal with Hoffman. Not to mention the fact that his price tag will be significantly lower than the other free agents. And the Mets are still on the hook for Billy Wagner’s $10.5 million salary in 2009. It’s not my money that they’re spending but I’d rather see the resources applied across the multiple potential openings in the bullpen, left field, and rotation than to one “great” closer.

Image via Wikimedia

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