Rox Wheel and Deal: Trade Slowey for Putnam

Last month the Colorado Rockies acquired right-handed starter Kevin Slowey from the Minnesota Twins and slotted him in the back end of the rotation. Slowey is once again changing teams—and going back to the AL Central—as the Rockies agreed to send him to Cleveland today along with $1.25 million in exchange for RHP Zach Putnam. 

No party involved with this trade is happier than Kevin Slowey likely is right now. Slowey is a solid mid-rotation pitcher with decent stuff and excellent strikeout-to-walk ratios, but he is an exaggerated fly ball pitcher and his style simply wouldn't have worked out well pitching every five days in Coors Field. The Cleveland Indians have coveted Slowey for some time and are especially happy to add rotation depth after learning about the visa issues of the pitcher formerly known as Fausto Carmona (real name: Roberto Hernandez Heredia). Slowey has to be happy to not only avoid having to ever pitch at Coors, but to also have the chance of sticking it to Twins management for starting last season with him in the bullpen. He got a taste of altitude Friday as he spent the day climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but thankfully for Rockies fans Slowey never took the mound at Coors. 

Slowey is due $2.7 million this year after avoiding arbitration with the Rockies. Colorado sent $1.25 million to Cleveland in the deal, making Slowey a cheap option for the Indians. 

For their trouble of obtaining Slowey from the Twins initially and throwing some money the Indians' way, the Rockies will receive Zach Putnam. The club started this mess by sending Daniel Turpen, a 25-year-old reliever who had a 4.83 ERA at Double-A last season, to the Twins for Slowey. Putnam, no matter who you ask, is held in much higher regard in prospect circles compared to Turpen. Baseball America recently released their top prospect list for the Indians and ranked Putnam 10th. Baseball Prospectus' Kevin Goldstein ranked Putnam as the 20th best prospect in the Indians system and added that he profiles as a "solid reliever." Turpen hasn't sniffed a prospect list. 

Putnam, 24, attended Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan and was one of the most highly regarded pitchers in the country after his junior year. After a senior season that failed to live up to his hype and asking price, Putnam fell in the draft and opted to attend the University of Michigan. In 2008, he was drafted by the Indians in the 5th round and he made his big league debut with the club last September. 

Putnam's arsenal includes a plus fastball and a splitter/changeup. I was actually in attendance for one of his appearances last September against the Tigers at Comerica Park. Putnam only threw seven pitches, but he showed something as he struck out Brandon Inge, induced a ground ball from Delmon Young, and made it out of the ballpark alive after facing Miguel Cabrera (he flied out to deep center). In the minors last season, Putnam posted a 3.65 ERA, 8.9 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 69 innings for Triple-A Columbus. 

Ostensibly, the Rockies started with a non-prospect in Turpen, parted with $1.25 million, and now have a shiny, promising, young reliever in Putnam. It's just a reliever, but this series of moves represents the most value G.M. Dan O'Dowd has added to the organization this winter. I don't think I'm going out on a limb saying that the Chris Iannetta and Ian Stewart deals didn't make the club any better and O'Dowd dumped effective reliever Huston Street and righty-masher Seth Smith just to give Michael Cuddyer $31.5 million for having a winning smile. You can say that O'Dowd has acquired plenty of pitching this off-season, but that doesn't mean the club will be better off for it as he's added quantity over quality. Turning Turpen into Putnam is the only clear win O'Dowd has on his record this winter and the club still spent $1.25 million to make it happen.  

To make an off the wall comparison, this offseason O'Dowd has acted a lot like the character Mac, from television's It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Instead of working out and getting in great shape, Mac chose last season not to stop eating and continued to put on mass. O'Dowd has, in a sense, done the same thing as he's yet to fix the pitching staff after trading Ubaldo Jimenez and chose merely to bring in a cast of middling pitchers and veterans so wide-ranging that they should have a reality show in Spring Training to decide who fills out the rotation. 

Well, I digress, and hopefully at some point we can all move on from what O'Dowd has done this winter. Baseball games will help. In other news, the Indians did acquire a player today who actually has suited up for the Rockies as they have agreed to a minor league deal with Ryan Spilborghs. Also, the Rockies unveiled a new road jersey this week that they'll debut on the field in 2012. I hope and pray that nobody was overzealous enough to buy one with "Slowey" on the back. 


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