LAS VEGAS – After signing Francisco Rodriguez today, Omar Minaya wasn’t content on standing pat and pulled off a deal that remade the Mets bullpen by acquiring reliever J.J. Putz to be K-Rod’s setup man.
In a 12 player, three team trade, the Mets sent reliever Aaron Heilman, outfielder Endy Chavez, and minor leaguers Maikel Cleto, Ezequiel Carerra and Mike Carp to the Mariners and then sent reliever Joe Smith to the Cleveland Indians. In return, the Mets got back Putz, outfielder Jeremy Reed and reliever Sean Green from Seattle.
The Mariners also acquired Franklin Gutierrez from the Indians with Cleveland getting back Luis Valbuena along with Smith.
Putz, 32, had a tremendous year in 2007 when he was 6-1 with 40 saves and a 1.38 ERA, but then lost his job last year to Brandon Morrow after injuries to his rib and elbow. In the end he went 6-5 with a 3.88 ERA and 15 saves in only 47 games.
And with the erstwhile Seattle closer scheduled to make $5.5 million this season and then a club option of $9.1 million in 2010 [or a $1 million buyout], the cost cutting Mariners wanted to move the reliever.
The Mets will also get Green, who will turn 30 in April. In 72 games, the reliever went 4-5 with a 4.67 ERA. He also had one save and blew three opportunities.
Finally the Mets will also get Reed, a backup outfield, replacing Chavez on the roster. The 27 year-old hit .269 last season with two home runs and 31 RBI.
The Mets now part with Heilman, who was a considered a pariah last season when he failed to take over the closer role after Billy Wagner’s injury. They also bid ado to Smith, who was a valuable reliever, but proved to be only a specialist. And although Chavez will be remembered for the catch in Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS, his role became redundant with Angel Pagan and now Reed on the team.