Diamondbacks Winter Meetings Preview
Kevin Towers (Ross D. Franklin/AP)

Posted Dec 2, 2011


The Arizona Diamondbacks will be looking for two pitchers and a backup first baseman at the winter meetings next week.

Unlike the last two years, the Diamondbacks do not figure to make a big splash at the winter meetings, no matter how much general manager Kevin Towers and his itchy trigger finger might like to.

Towers did some major work in reconfiguring the D-backs last year in his first winter meetings as Arizona's GM. He bolstered the bullpen by signing free agent closer J.J. Putz, acquired setup up man David Hernandez in a trade that sent third baseman Mark Reynolds and the remaining $13 million on his contract to Baltimore, and claimed situational left-hander Joe Paterson in the Rule 5 draft.

The year before, then general manager Josh Byrnes obtained two-fifths of his starting rotation in Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson in a three-team trade involving the New York Yankees and Detroit at the meetings. Acting general manager Jerry Dipoto spun Jackson into starter Daniel Hudson in a trade-deadline deal.

The D-backs have more modest aspirations in Dallas this year -- a veteran starter, a reliever (preferably left-handed), and a backup first baseman.  They have an offer out to Lyle Overbay.

"It's really pitching more than anything else," Towers said. "Our focus is to add another reliever and another starter. In a perfect world, we would like to have two lefties (in the bullpen). But we don't have to go that way. One of my best bullpens, in San Diego in 1996, had no left-handers."

The D-backs are likely to mine the free agent market in search of their pitching help. Left-hander Joe Saunders, entering his final year of arbitration eligibility, is the nominal fourth starter behind Kennedy, Hudson, and Josh Collmenter, but the D-backs are kicking the tires on other veteran starting options, such as Mark Buehrle and Hiroki Kuroda.

At the same time, the D-backs do not want to lock themselves into a long-term deal with a veteran starter because of their depth of high quality young arms, the strength of the minor league system. Young starter Jarrod Parker and Wade Miley jumped from the minors to the majors last season, and others -- such as Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin, and Charles Brewer -- are considered close.

If they find a good price or a good team, they could non-tender Saunders at the December 12 deadline and fill out the rotation with one of the Parker/Miley/Skaggs group.

"More important than the dollars, we want to have room for the young guys," Towers said. "If they are not ready this year, we think they will be ready next year. We're not looking to lock up a (veteran) pitcher for a long term."

SNAKE BYTES

--1B Lyle Overbay has a contract offer on the table, GM Kevin Towers said, and the D-backs expect to know early in the winter meetings whether he will accept the deal and return as a backup first baseman to mentor starting 1B Paul Goldschmidt. Overbay's camp is attempting to determine whether there is more playing time available elsewhere, but Overbay has said he is not averse to returning. He hit .286 with one homer and 10 RBI in 46 at-bats after signing as a free agent in mid-August.

--The D-backs have 35 players on their 40-man roster, and they expected to be active in the Rule 5 draft December 8, which traditionally concludes the meetings. LH Joe Paterson was a Rule 5 find in the San Francisco organization last year and went 0-3 with a 2.91 ERA.

--RHP Charles Brewer, whose season was cut short by a concussion and a broken hand, was the winning pitcher in Salt River's 9-3 victory over Surprise in the Arizona Fall League championship game. Brewer, a native of Scottsdale who pitched in front of family and friends, gave up two runs on three hits in four innings. He struck out four and did not walk a batter. Brewer also won the only other must-win game his team played this season, when he beat Birmingham in the fifth game of the Class AA Southern League semifinals, propelling Mobile to the league title.

--2B David Nick hit a three-run triple in the seventh inning as Salt River took an 8-2 lead in the Fall League championship game. Nick, who hit .300 with 35 doubles, 13 homers and 68 RBI at Class A Visalia this season, was .298/.352/.405 in 22 Fall League games.

--Jeff Pico has become the minor league field coordinator after serving as the minor league pitching coordinator the last two seasons. Mel Stottlemyre Jr., who was promoted from pitching coordinator to major league pitching coach when Bryan Price resigned after manager Bob Melvin was fired in May of 2009, has rejoined the organization as the pitching coordinator.

DIAMOND STAT: .324 -- Rising prospect OF Adam Eaton's composite batting average in his three stops in 2011 -- Class A Visalia, Class AA Mobile, and the Arizona Fall League. He had 30 doubles, 12 homers, 85 RBI, and 42 stolen bases.

QUOTABLE: "More important than the dollars, we want to have room for the young guys. If they are not ready this year, we think they will be ready next year. We're not looking to lock up a (veteran) pitcher for a long term." -- D-backs general manager Kevin Towers, on his parameters for adding a veteran starter this offseason


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