Nick Piecoro tweets that the Arizona Diamondbacks and J.J. Putz have agreed on a two-year deal with a team option for a third season. "Team officials believe chance to stay close to home -- he lives in the Valley -- was big factor," says. Piecoro, who added in a subsequent message that Putz will be undergoing a physical today and tomorrow. Jon Heyman reports that the two guaranteed years cost $10 million [hat-tip to blank_38], which is a very reasonable amount, it seems to me.
[Update. Turns out to be slightly more reasonable. Per Ken Rosenthal, it's $4 million in 2011 and $4.5M in 12, with a $6.5 million club option for 2013, or a $1.5 million buyout. So, either $10 million for two years or $15 million for three.]
More about Putz after the jump - I imagine Kevin Towers will sleep well tonight after an extraordinarily-busy day...
The 33-year old Putz had a 2.83 ERA with the Chicago White Sox last season, and has a career ERA+ of 137. He'll become the Arizona closer, a role which he had in Seattle, where he saved 40 games in 2007. Over the last six years, Putz has been one of the elite bullpen arms in the majors - only six relievers with 300+ innings of work in that time, have posted a better ERA+ than Putz's figure of 150. He has really only had one bad season in his career: that would be 2009 with the Mets, where his ERA ballooned to 5.22, though he only appeared in 29 games.
JJ rebounded last year on the south side of Chicago, when he appeared in 60 games and posted an ERA of 2.83, as the primary set-up man for Bobby Jenks [non-tendered by the White Sox just a few days ago - looks like they've got their own bit of bullpen rebuilding to do!] With a FIP of 2.53 and xFIP of 2.87, it does seem that Putz genuinely was that good - and dominant too, with 65 strikeouts in only 54 innings for the White Sox. With an average fastball of 94 mph, add him to the list of flamethrowers and "strike pounders" in the Diamondbacks pen for 2011: and at 6'5" and 250 lbs, it seems Kevin Towers shares Mark Grace's fondness for big relievers.
Assuming the $10 million is split equally over years, this more or less means that the money given to him in 2011 will come from no longer having to be paid to Mark Reynolds. But it will still be the most money we've paid for a closer in quite some time - I think you'd have to go back to the $7 million given to Matt Mantei in 2004 for his four saves and 10.2 innings, to find a greater sum. Here's to this closer proving to be a somewhat better investment, shall we say!
On the intangibles front, Putz has a reputation as a clubhouse prankster who keeps things loose. with a fondness for delivering a shaving-cream pie to the face. According to WIkipedia, he shared a dorm with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady while at the University of Michigan. He currently enters to "Thunderstruck" by AC/DC, and with each out of the inning, a snippet of the song starting at "You've Been Thunderstruck" is replayed. Here's to that entering heavy rotation on the Chase Field playlist for the next few seasons.