The Arizona Diamondbacks come into the 2014 with a lot of depth and options in the bullpen and as Spring Training rolls on the decisions are becoming even harder. Most of the staf has thrown really well, the starters in particular. The D’backs have a decision to make at the closer spot, the 8th inning role, the 7th inning role, and the last spot which appears to be Randall Delgado‘s. However, thinking about 2015, the club also has some long term questions to answer about the pen that concern the future of J.J. Putz. Putz saved 77 games over the 2011 and 2012 seasons but 2013 was a down year filled with injuries. With young studs like Jake Barrett and Matt Stites coming up through the system and with David Hernandez, Brad Ziegler, and Addison Reed already in the back end of the pen, will this be J.J’s last year as a D’back?
Putz is entering the final year of his contract and with injuries becoming an issue it wouldn’t be the worst decision to dump Putz after 2014. Speaking to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, about Reed and the young relievers, Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers didn’t sound like he had the veteran in his plans beyond 2014.
"“We only have J.J. for one more year,” Towers said. “We’re going to need somebody at the back end for the next four to five years”."
When he was talking about the next four to five years he meant Barrett, Reed, and Stites. I have to agree with K.T. While J.J. is a great veteran leader to have in the back of the pen and will in my mind return to form in 2014, he is getting old and injuries are an issue. The D’backs have so much depth and they don’t really need him beyond 2014 because the young relievers and Reed are more than ready to take over the role in the future.
J.J himself has just been taking it one day at a time and is just planning to enjoy the 2014 season with a great team and worry about 2015 when the time comes.According to the Gilbert piece:
"“I’m just going to enjoy this year and kind of re-evaluate how I feel at the end and talk with my wife and see what the future holds,” Putz said. “I think I want to keep playing. I’m pretty sure.”"
Putz does hope to stay involved in the game when he decides to call it quits, hopefully as a special assistant to a G.M. On the playing side the D’backs hope to get one more good year out of J.J. so the team’s bullpen can be more consistent in 2014. Personally, while I love what he has done for the organization over the past three years, I don’t think the Snakes need J.J. Putz beyond 2014.