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Putz Traded in Megadeal

J.J. PutzJack Zduriencik made his first trade as the M's GM, and it is a big three-team one between the M's, Mets, and Indians. Here are the details:

Mariners Get: 1B Mike Carp (from NYM), OF Franklin Gutierrez (from CLE), OF Endy Chavez (from NYM), OF Ezequiel Carrera (from NYM), RHP Aaron Heilman (from NYM), LHP Jason Vargas (from NYM), and RHP Mikael Clato (from NYM)

Mariners Trade: 2B Luis Valbuena (to CLE), OF Jeremy Reed (to NYM), RHP J.J. Putz (to NYM), and RHP Sean Green (to NYM)

Indians Get: 2B Luis Valbuena (from SEA) and RHP Joe Smith (from NYM)

Indians Trade: OF Franklin Gutierrez (to SEA)

Mets Get: OF Jeremy Reed (from SEA), RHP Sean Green (from SEA), RHP J.J. Putz (from SEA)

Mets Trade: 1B Mike Carp (to SEA), OF Endy Chavez (to SEA), OF Ezequiel Carrera (to SEA), RHP Aaron Heilman (to SEA), RHP Joe Smith (to SEA), LHP Jason Vargas (to SEA), RHP Mikael Clato (to SEA)

This is a big deal with lots of players switching addresses. Pretty clearly, it was mainly a deal between the Mets and Mariners, and the Indians became involved to finish the deal. So, I'll start with the Indians.

Why the Indians did the deal:
Cleveland is looking to bolster their bullpen after it took a major step backwards last year. They are finalizing a deal for Kerry Wood to be their closer (pending a physical, which definitely could derail the deal with Wood's injury history), and now they have Joe Smith to be another late-inning guy. Additionally, Smith is young, so he is under team control at a cheap price for several years. Valbuena is attractive to the Indians because it's looking more like Jhonny Peralta will move to third base in the near future, and Asdrubal Cabrera will take over shortstop. Since Josh Barfield has fallen off the map, Valbuena becomes the second baseman when he is ready. Franklin Gutierrez was a natural piece to trade since Matt LaPorta is close to ready to take over an everyday outfield spot, and the Indians already have Grady Sizemore, Shin-Soo Choo, and Ben Francisco. This is an all-around solid deal for Cleveland that makes a great deal of sense.

Why the Mets did the deal:
Clearly, their top priority this offseason was upgrading their bullpen. They signed K-Rod, and now they traded for Putz. He is the centerpiece of this entire deal, and it's clear that the Mets were willing to give up quite a bit to get him. They did protect some of their more highly touted prospects, but they gave up a bunch of solid players. Still, now they've got J.J. and K-Rod, and that's what made them say yes to this trade. As an added bonus/key component of the deal, Aaron Heilman is gone.

Why the Mariners did the deal:
The M's have lots of needs, and virtually all of them were addressed. Mike Carp is a possible long-term answer at first base. Franklin Gutierrez and Endy Chavez will both help out in the outfield. A couple young prospects are in the trade, and a couple players that might make the pitching staff too. Sometimes trading one great player to plug a bunch of holes is worth it, and Zduriencik feels that is the case with this trade.

How the deal developed:
Looking at the players involved, I feel it is pretty clear how this trade developed. I'm certainly not privy to any of the conversations that actually happened, but if I am right, we just learned a bunch about the new-look Mariners front office. Here is what I think happened. Much of this comes from Geoff Baker's Mariners blog for the Seattle Times.
  1. Omar Minaya came to Jack Zduriencik to ask about J.J. Putz once he had officially signed Francisco Rodriguez. Jack says he needs an outfielder (perhaps preferably one with defense) in return. Minaya offers Aaron Heilman (since he wants to get rid of him) and Mike Carp. The M's are intrigued by the package, but say that it is not enough. They really need an outfielder.
  2. Minaya goes to Mark Shapiro and asks about Franklin Gutierrez. He says it will take a young reliever and middle-infielder. Minaya offers Joe Smith and goes back to the M's to see if they are willing to give up a middle-infielder, as well as replace Joe Smith.
  3. As luck would have it, the Mariners have Luis Valbuena and Sean Green, and they will trade both. Additionally, they like Endy Chavez, and are willing to part ways with Jeremy Reed to get him. For the M's troubles, the Mets include some additional prospects.
Like I said this is part rumors and part speculation, so it could be completely wrong. It makes some sense though, and if it is true, I am excited about Zduriencik even more. Neither Gutierrez nor Chavez provide much offense at all, but those two teamed with Ichiro are an insanely good outfield defensively. That will help the entire pitching staff more than any pitching acquisition, particularly "fly ball specialist" Jarrod Washburn. The upgrade those two provide defensively will go a very long way towards replacing Raul's production, since he was an awful defender. As an added bonus, the better numbers posted by Washburn and others may make a bunch of pitchers on the staff more attractive trade chips. This is the kind of creativity that I never saw out of Bill Bavasi.

Jack Zduriencik showed so much in this trade. He addressed so much in this one deal. I did not even touch on the talent he added to the farm system, particularly in Mike Carp. He doesn't look like a superstar in the making, but he's the young first base prospect that was never drafted under Bavasi. The 25-man roster is better today too, thanks to the killer defensive outfield the M's all of sudden have. Plus, Jack freed up some payroll. This is vision. This is creativity. This is having an encompossing organization-wide plan.

There are some concerns with the deal. First of all, it is hard to see J.J. Putz leave. Second, Aaron Heilman has no business being a starter, but he wants to be one, and he may get to be one. If Morrow is forced into the bullpen as a result, I will be quite disappointed. Still, the positives can't be ignored. Jack Zduriencik is fixing the Mariners.