DENVER -- The Rockies didn't wait to arrive at Spring Training to begin trimming the competition for starting rotation spots. At the same time, they increased bullpen depth.
The Rockies traded right-handed starting rotation candidate Kevin Slowey to the Indians on Friday for right-handed reliever Zach Putnam, who made his Major League debut last year.
Putnam, 24, a fifth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Michigan, went 1-1 with a 6.14 ERA, with nine strikeouts and zero walks, in eight games for the Indians. Putnam also went 6-3 with a 3.65 ERA and nine saves in 44 relief appearances at Triple-A Columbus.
"[Rockies scouts] Ty Coslow and Ed Santa have just really liked the player, plus he fits very well as another young, power, controllable [with Minor League options] arm," Rockies general manager Dan O'Dowd said.
Putnam also works off a fastball and a split-finger pitch, a mix that could be a plus for him at Coors Field.
"He took some big strides last year. Competitiveness and athleticism have always been attributes for him," Indians president Mark Shapiro said of Putnam days before the trade. "He was a two-way guy [starter and reliever] in college. He's not scared and has good stuff. He can strike guys out and keep the ball in the ballpark on the ground. He's got a chance to make an impact this year."
By removing Slowey, who was obtained from the Twins last month for Minor League right-handed reliever Daniel Turpen, the Rockies are down to nine mostly young roster candidates for the five-man rotation -- right-handers Jhoulys Chacin, Jason Hammel, Esmil Rogers, Juan Nicasio, Guillermo Moscoso, Tyler Chatwood and Alex White, and left-handers Drew Pomeranz and Josh Outman.
In addition, the Rockies are expected to take a look at onetime top Draft choice Christian Friedrich this spring; still have right-hander Clayton Mortensen, a spot-starter at times last year; and have signed veteran left-hander Jamie Moyer.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.