Mariners Insider Blog

WINTER MEETINGS 2008: The morning Putz speculation

Good morning. After one day of rumors, speculation and a few late night cocktails, we are back here early in the morning with not much changed. J.J. Putz is still with the Mariners, at least for the moment.

Quickly, here's a link to my story from yesterday.

Offering the other side's perspective is Jon Paul Morosi of the Detroit Free Press. J.P. also checks in with an update that said the Mariners are looking for possibly a 3-for-1 deal, perhaps including outfielder Matt Joyce and first baseman Jeff Larish – both left-handed hitters – and a minor leaguer.

Does that seem like too much? Well, Joyce and Larish are major-league players, but are they major-league contributors?

Joyce made his big-league debut on May 7th last season when manager Jim Leyland decided to shake up the line-up of his reeling team by inserting him as a starter.

Joyce appeared in 92 games, starting 59. He had 277 plate appearances and hit .252 with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 12 home runs and 33 RBI. Hardly Ruthian numbers, but not bad. He also had 31 walks and 65 strikeouts. Joyce posted on OPS (on-base+slugging) of .831, which is better than anybody on the Mariners last season, not named Raul Ibanez.

Larish also made his debut last season, appearing in 42 games and starting 25, getting 111 plate appearances.

He hit .260 with six doubles, two homers and 16 RBI. Kind of scary is the fact that he struck out 34 times and walked just seven. But I've been told by a source close to the team that he does have a good eye and is willing to work counts. He had an OPS of .681, but it was from a relatively small sample size. His numbers at Triple A Toledo were obviously better. He still hit .250, but had 20 doubles, 20 home runs, 64 RBI, and had an OPS of .818.

Larish is kind of blocked with Miguel Cabrera and his gargantuan contract and even larger frame hulking around first, while Brandon Inge has taken over at third. Larish has even worked out at third to find time, but he is clearly blocked.

One thing to remember in all of this is that Tigers aren't just looking at Putz. They are also looking at possibly signing free agent closer Kerry Wood.

But's Jason Beck mentions that could be a reach with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski being quoted as saying, "I would say I doubt it" when asked about going after a bigger free agent closer.

The Tigers' payroll is pretty bloated, and unless they could dump a major contract, like Magglio Ordonez, it doesn't seem likely they could take a $30-plus million contract to Wood.

So it seems a trade for Putz is very possible. One question is whether they would give up both Larish and Joyce. A source close to the team says that's unlikely, but did say the Tigers are willing to pay and sometimes overpay to get what they really need, and they can't go into next season without having the closer position solidified.