On June 27 the Arizona Diamondbacks released former closer J.J. Putz.
Putz missed five weeks this season with a forearm strain and had just been activated off of the disabled list. He struggled in his return, giving up three runs in 3⅔ innings of work, but obviously we are dealing with a very small sample size.
Putz’s average fastball has regressed to an average of just under 90 miles per hour this season, but he is pitching to a 55 percent ground ball rate.
The Diamondbacks originally placed the 37-year-old Putz on waivers on June 20, giving them 10 days to trade, release or outright him. He was let go when the Diamondbacks presumably found no one who was interested in giving up a player for his services. The Diamondbacks will pay all of the $3.5 million left on Putz's contract this year. If he chooses to sign with another team, they will only have to pay the prorated portion of the $500,000 minimum salary requirements.
The Tigers' bullpen struggles this season have been no secret, and they are currently relying on a trio of rookies to help shoulder the load. Putz was the Diamondbacks' closer for 2011-12 seasons and served in that role for parts of last year before succumbing to injuries. He could provide valuable late-inning help, at least until Joel Hanrahan is ready to contribute.
Born in Trenton, Mich., Putz has ties to the state and may find it appealing to return. He also played college baseball in Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. Off the field, he was considered a leader in the clubhouse and would be a veteran presence to add to already strong clubhouse chemistry.
Putz's best season came with the Seattle Mariners in 2007 when he had a 1.38 ERA and a WHIP of under 0.70 to go along with four wins above replacement. That year he was also selected as an all-star and finished 13th in the MVP voting. His career has been somewhat rocky since then, but he was effective for the Diamondbacks in the closer role.