J.J. Putz, one of the prized relievers on the trade market when the Mets acquired him last winter, should soon be a free agent. The Mets reportedly told the right-hander that they don't intend to pick up his $9.1 million option for next season, instead opting to buy out his contract for $1 million.
The report in the New York Post is not a surprise after injury woes marred Putz's 2009 season in the Big Apple.
Putz's contract dates back to his time in Seattle, when he was one of the American League's top closers. He went to the Mets in a surprise three-way trade at last year's Winter Meetings and entered the year as a setup man for new closer Francisco Rodriguez, but injuries limited Putz to just 29 appearances. He posted a 1-4 record and a 5.22 ERA, allowing 29 hits and 19 walks in 29 1/3 innings. He gave up seven earned runs over his final three appearances to balloon his ERA.
Putz experienced elbow discomfort in early May and had surgery to remove a bone spur a month later. He tried throwing late in the year, but was ultimately diagnosed with a slight tear in his medial collateral ligament in the same elbow. He's expected to fully recover and be ready to start throwing next month, but even so, the injury worries reportedly were concerning enough for the Mets, who were believed to be hesitant about the 2010 option going into this season.
"I'll just wait to see how it hits me when [the Mets] decide," Putz told MLB.com last month. "I guess I'd be open to pretty much anything. I liked being there. I enjoyed the guys, not the season."
Putz, who will turn 33 in February, has missed parts of the past two seasons with injuries. He appeared in 204 games for the Mariners from 2005-07, but has pitched in just 76 games over the past two years.
Putz would join a free-agent relief pool that is led by closers Fernando Rodney and Jose Valerde. If healthy, Putz could be a low-risk closing option for teams needing ninth-inning help.
Jason Beck is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.