Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010
By Chuck Garfien
The White Sox' bullpen might look a whole lot different in 2011. Bobby Jenks could be out the door. Chris Sale could be headed to the rotation, at least until Jake Peavy comes back. And Tuesday, we learned that J.J. Putz declined arbitration from the White Sox, making him a free agent.
The White Sox have expressed a desire to re-sign Putz, but theyll have to wait in line.
Eight or nine teams have shown preliminary interest, Putz told Comcast SportsNet. Some for closer roles, others to be a set-up man with a chance for closing.
After suffering through an injury-plagued season with the Mets in 2009, Putz signed a one-year deal with the White Sox last winter and had a comeback season, going 7-5 with a 2.83 ERA in 54 innings. While many speculated that Putz would automatically decline arbitration, which would have given him a one-year guaranteed contract with the White Sox, Putz said it wasnt exactly a slam dunk.
We definitely had a back and forth about it, but realistically it was best on my part not to accept it.
Putz will likely command a two or three-year deal on the open market. If he signs elsewhere, the White Sox would receive a middle-round draft pick in compensation.
Although he has a home in Arizona, making it convenient to play for a team in the Cactus League during spring training, Putz is open to signing with teams in the Grapefruit League.
It is what it is, Putz said. Its nice to stay home, but if theres a better situation, Ill go to Florida.
As for when Putz might sign with a club, hes not expecting it to happen anytime soon, or at least until the Big 4 free agents ink deals: Cliff Lee, Carl Crawford, Adam Dunn and Jayson Werth.
Until those four guys sign, theres going to be a lot of unsigned free agents out there. Most teams are banking on them. Then theyll fill some other areas, said Putz.
And if the 33-year-old reliever goes elsewhere, hell leave behind his best buddy, Matt Thornton, who played a big role in courting Putz to the South Side last year. The two work out every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 6 a.m. during the off-season. Theyll be back there bright and early tomorrow morning.
Will Putz be back on the South Side?
Thats a big unknown. But we do know this: the White Sox now have some competition.
Chuck Garfien hosts White Sox Pregame and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet with former Sox sluggers Frank Thomas and Bill Melton. Follow Chuck @ChuckGarfien on Twitter for up-to-the-minute Sox news and views.