Three-team blockbuster nets Mets Putz
Mariners and Indians involved in 12-player Meetings deal
LAS VEGAS -- Omar Minaya described the three-team, 12-player behemoth best.In discussing the Sultan of Swap that took place among his Mets and the Mariners and Indians, Minaya proudly proclaimed, "The best thing you can say about this trade is it's an old-fashioned trade." Indeed, it is. And the crux of this blockbuster was Minaya and the Mets acquiring J.J. Putz from the Mariners to serve as the setup man to new closer Francisco Rodriguez.
Of course, that was far from the only element of this deal, which came together astonishingly fast Wednesday afternoon at the Bellagio, on the third day of the Winter Meetings. The Mets also received outfielder Jeremy Reed and right-hander Sean Green from Seattle. The Mariners received outfielder Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians and, from the Mets, right-hander Aaron Heilman, center fielder Endy Chavez and four Minor Leaguers -- first baseman Mike Carp, right-hander Maikel Cleto, left-hander Jason Vargas and center fielder Ezekiel Carrera. The Indians received right-hander Joe Smith from the Mets and infielder Luis Valbuena from the Mariners. How did it happen so fast? Well, Minaya inquired about Putz, and, when it became clear an easy trade could be made, newly appointed M's general manager Jack Zduriencik told Minaya he was interested in Gutierrez. Indians general manager Mark Shapiro and Minaya are good friends and know each other's needs on the trade front, so Minaya called Shapiro to get the wheels in motion. The Indians had long had an interest in Smith, and they also had knowledge of Seattle's system because of their talks with Zduriencik about Putz this offseason. Next thing the three men knew, they were all on the horn and sealing the particulars. "There were a lot of moving parts and everybody satisfied what they needed to get done," Shapiro said. "I hope we look back a year from now and see it worked out for everybody." Here's how it works from each club's perspective: The Mets: Having just satisfied their closer search with the signing of K-Rod to a three-year, $37 million deal, the Mets were looking to solve their setup situation. Putz is a marquee addition, given his ninth-inning pedigree. He took over the Mariners' closing duties in 2006 and saved 76 games between '06 and '07. But this past season, injuries limited him to 47 appearances. He went 6-5 with a 3.88 ERA and 15 saves. The trade dictates a demotion in duties for Putz. "It's not the ideal situation," he said, "but having the two of us at the back of the bullpen will be pretty strong." As for Minaya, between K-Rod and Putz, he hopes he's taken care of an obvious weakness from 2008. "All I kept hearing on the streets in New York, if you go get bagels in the morning, it was, 'Please, address the bullpen,'" Minaya said. "Well, to you, Mets fans, we've addressed the bullpen."
Anthony Castrovince is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.