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Rough day for three potential free agents

Aug 25, 2009, 6:14 PM EDT

Along with the big Johan Santana and Billy Wagner news today, there were three lesser items that figure to negatively impact a few of this winter’s potential free agents.
Wanting to make room for Chris Davis, the Rangers placed Andruw Jones on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring.
Jones’ OPS stood at 903 on July 29, but he’s gone 8-for-53 with no homers since, leaving him with a .217/.329/.482 line for the season. Just as much of a concern for his value going forward is that leg injuries have limited his outfield time, making him primarily a DH even after injuries to Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz opened up spots. Jones does have his 17 homers in 253 at-bats this season, so if he were still an adequate center fielder, he’d be well worth considering as a regular next year. However, as is, that’s an awfully difficult thing to judge. It would help if he got himself into better shape and then logged some innings in winter ball.
In this case, Jones’ loss is another free agent’s gain. Hank Blalock could have lost a lot more playing time to Davis, but he’ll likely stay in the lineup against right-handers now.
The Mets revealed that J.J. Putz suffered a setback with his forearm and probably wouldn’t pitch again this season.
If that’s the case, Putz could well end his Mets career with a 5.22 ERA and a 19/19 K/BB ratio in 29 1/3 innings, all accumulated during the first two months of this season. GM Omar Minaya expected him to function as an elite setup man in front of Francisco Rodriguez, but it seems clear now that the one-time dominant closer will never be so effective again.
The Mets have the option of keeping Putz at $8.5 million or buying him out for $1 million next year. It’d be a lot to pay for a setup man anyway, and there’s just no way that Putz is worth it now. Exercising the option and trading him might have worked if Putz came back and impressed in September, but that’s also out. Odds are that he’ll become a free agent, and he might latch on with a low payroll club willing to give him an opportunity to close (Florida? Baltimore?).
Nick Johnson has been slower than expected to recover from a strained hamstring and could be placed on the DL prior to tonight’s game.
Incredibly, Johnson went 4 1/2 months without suffering an injury of any significance. However, the slow healing first baseman is down now after appearing in just 13 games following a trade from the Nationals to the Marlins. Johnson, who is batting .296/.419/.408, had a ton to gain as a free agent by playing in 150 games this season. It likely would have put him in line for another three-year deal. Something like $15 million for two years might be more likely now.

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