Who Will be the D’backs’ Closer in 2014?


Will J.J. Putz be the D’back closer in 2014? Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Boy that came out of nowhere. I was getting ready to put something out there about how the Arizona Diamondbacks were connected to any relievers that were on the open market. Given how Kevin Towers always tinkers with his bullpens, it was a bit surprising that the D’backs were quiet on this front. That thought was blown out of the water with the team completing a deal that brings White Sox closer Addison Reed to Phoenix. Most people probably assume that Reed automatically be the Snakes’ stopper in 2014. But will that indeed be the case?

Other than a couple of injuries that limited him to 40 games, J.J. Putz didn’t really do anything to lose his job as the team’s stopper. He registered a 2.36 ERA with six saves. Soon to be 37, Putz is still an effective reliever and has a price tag of $7 million dollars for 2014. That is quite a big number for a setup man for a team in a market like the D’backs. Reed is 13 years younger than Putz and is under club control for the next four seasons with no injury concerns on his side. However, do not underestimate the role salary may play in this competition., if you want to call it that. Setup guys don’t make $7 million per year; closers do. Reeds probably makes more sense to get the ball in the 9th inning, but one can see Kirk Gibson being loyal to Putz and giving him the first shot at being the guy.

The wild card in this equation is Jake Barrett. Earlier this offseason, Towers hinted that Barrett, who has not pitched above Double A, could land on the D’backs’ 25 man roster for Opening Day. Heck, if Putz struggled early on, he could have been the next one up for the position. With Reed in the picture, Barrett could still be in the Majors when the team heads to Australia but will be farther away from the closer’s role. If both men struggle, it will be the youngster that will get the opportunity much sooner than the team had hoped.

One could ask the question if the D’backs are using Reed to piece together an even bigger deal for right now or a year from now. Who wouldn’t want a guy who is not yet 25 but has 69 saves with a reasonable contract? I another deal doesn’t happen for 2014, it seems that this will be Putz’s swan song as a valued member of the bullpen in Arizona. It appears the main three guys out of the bullpen in 2015 will be Reed, Barrett and Matt Stites. That’s for next offseason to ponder. Right now, no matter who the closer is, the D’back bullpen is in much better shape now than it was three months ago.

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