The Arizona Diamondbacks made a lot of moves this past offseason, but maybe none as important as extending the contract of closer J.J. Putz.
In January, the D-backs inked Putz to a one-year contract that keeps the veteran stopper with the club through the 2014 season.
“He’s been great since he’s come over here,” manager Kirk Gibson said after practice Monday. “You know he’s been great with what he does on the mound but even more so within the clubhouse and within the community. He does it all.”
Putz first signed with the D-backs on December 7, 2010 and has been a staple in the bullpen ever since. He compiled 32 saves in 37 chances last season.
“When we come over and we ask people to buy into the Diamondback way and they do that, you want to keep them,” Gibson said. “You look for people like that.”
The 35-year-old, who turns 36 on February 22, also has to find a way to stay healthy for an entire season. Originally drafted in 1999, Putz has put some miles on his arm with 183 career saves and 547 career strikeouts.
Putz wants to stay healthy and contribute for an entire season and Gibson wants the same from his closer.
“I think last year we made some progress with him to where he gets it,” Gibson said. “He gets it and he’s very honest about it. He’ll take the ball when he’s gotta take the ball, at the same time he understands the importance of being able to know that he’s going to be back and we don’t have to shut him down for two days. Don’t wanna do that.”
Putz was especially valuable down the stretch last year with a 0.84 ERA from June 23 through the final out of the season. Overall, he owned a 2.82 ERA in 2012 and is second on the all-time saves list for Arizona with 77, behind Jose Valverde with 98.
“We need to keep him healthy,” Gibson said. “We know he’ll be limited in how many times he goes three days (in a row), but regardless, it’s a huge plus for us.”
The D-backs exercised their $6.5 million option on Putz on October 20. He would have been eligible to become a free agent after this season until the D-backs added 2014 for an additional $7 million in salary.
He’s pitched in 514 big league games with the Mets, Mariners, White Sox and D-backs.