D-backs Offer Arbitration to Heilman, LaRoche

D-backs Offer Arbitration to Heilman, LaRoche

First baseman Adam LaRoche and reliever Aaron Heilman were offered salary arbitration at the Tuesday deadline, but it was more a procedural move than a signal the two will return to the Diamondbacks in 2011. Both are expected to test the free agent market.

By offering arbitration, the D-backs will receive a "sandwich" pick between the first and second rounds of the 2011 draft for each of the two that signs elsewhere. That will further deepen their haul next June, when they already have the third and seventh picks in the first round.

If either player accepts arbitration, he would commit himself to a one-year deal with the D-backs at a salary to be determined by an independent arbiter, but not less than 80 percent of what he made this season. LaRoche and Heilman must inform the D-backs of their decision by November 30.

"The draft compensation was certainly the driving force behind it," general manager Kevin Towers said. "There is certainly some risk involved in our part, but we felt it was worth taking the risk for the extra two picks. We certainly think there is a market for those guys."

Adam LaRoche turned down a two-year, $14 million deal from San Francisco last January to sign a one-year, $4.5 million contract that included a $7.5 million option for 2011. The D-Backs declined the option, choosing to pay a $1.5 million buyout.

While the free agent market is stocked with quality first basemen, such as Paul Konerko, Derrek Lee, Carlos Pena, and Adam Dunn, LaRoche could be in an even better bargaining position this winter after hitting .261 with 25 home runs and a career-high 100 RBI in his one year with the D-backs.

Aaron Heilman, who reached 70 appearances for the fifth consecutive season in 2010, is eligible for free agency for the first time this season, and the market could bear a multi-year deal for an established setup man. He made $2.15 million last year, when he was 5-8 with a career-high six saves and a 4.50 ERA.

Right-handers Brandon Webb, Rodrigo Lopez and Kris Benson, and left-hander Mike Hampton were not offered arbitration because they did not rank among the best players at their respective positions, so the D-backs would not have gained draft picks if they sign elsewhere. The Diamondbacks are still believed to be interested in retaining Hampton.

SNAKE BYTES

--LHP Zach Duke was acquired from Pittsburgh for a player to be named. He was designated for assignment by the Pirates after going 8-15 with a 5.72 ERA last season.

--RHP Josh Collmenter and RHP Yonata Ortega were added to the 40-man roster. Collmenter, a 15th-round pick in 2007, was 14-6 with a 3.38 ERA in three stops this summer and reached Triple-A Reno. He finished with a flourish, going 4-0 with a 3.04 in seven starts in the Arizona Fall League. Ortega was 4-4 with 33 saves and a 3.48 ERA while splitting time between Low-A South Bend and Hi-A Visalia in his first season as a full-time closer.

--RHP Juan Jaime was claimed off waivers from Washington and added to the 40-man roster. Jaime, 23, missed the 2010 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in April, and he is not expected to be ready to pitch until late spring. Jaime, 10-3 with a 2.42 ERA four seasons in the Nationals' minor league system, has a fastball that had been clocked at 100 mph prior to the operation. The Nationals may have expected to pass him through waivers because of the recent surgery.

--LF Marc Krauss tied for the Arizona Fall League lead with 23 RBI while helping lead Scottsdale into their league championship win against the Peoria Javelinas. Krauss, who batted .302 with 25 homers and 87 RBI at Hi-A Visalia in the summer season, hit .305 with four homers and 14 walks in only 82 at-bats in the Fall League regular season. Jermaine Dye (1995), Geoff Jenkins (1997), and Carlos Lee (1998) are among the other outfielders to have led the Fall League in RBI.

--Billy Ryan was hired as an assistant general manager after spending the last three seasons in the commissioner's office as the senior coordinator for salary and contract administration. In that position, Ryan acted as a liaison to all 30 clubs regarding rules, the basic agreement and other contractual and industry practices. He also was directly involved with recommendations to clubs regarding the salary arbitration process and signing bonuses related to amateur players selected in the First-Year Player Draft. "He brings an incredible amount of knowledge with him," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said. The job was previously held by Peter Woodfork, who left the organization in October.

--Shiraz Rehman has been promoted to director of player personnel after having served as the club's director of baseball operations the last two seasons. He joined the D-backs in December 2005.


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