The Diamondbacks did not transact any major business at winter meetings the first week of December in Dallas, but it was not for a lack of trying.
General manager Kevin Towers and his staff had substantive talks with free agents, theirs and others, and were linked to several teams, most notably Oakland, in trade talks as they attempt to add a veteran starting pitcher to a rotation headed by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson.
The D-backs expected to announce the signing of reserve first baseman Lyle Overbay to a one-year deal at the meetings, and while much of the work has been done, the D-backs left the meetings without the i's dotted and the t's crossed. Overbay will serve as a backup and mentor to Paul Goldschmidt.
The D-backs also made a two-year contract offer to Joe Saunders, who has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining, but the sides were not close after Saunders' camp came back with a proposal of its own. That ship might be sailing. Saunders won 12 games and is expected to earn about $8 million in arbitration, but Towers said the D-backs would sign or trade Saunders rather than enter the arbitration process. The deadline for offering arbitration is December 12.
With Saunders' return more and more unlikely, the D-backs continued to kick the tires in the pitching market. They have spoken to the agent for Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, a pitcher Towers likes, and had discussions with the A's about left-hander Gio Gonzalez and right-hander Trevor Cahill, although talks appeared to cool when Oakland was said to be seeking a "Dan Haren" package.
"You eliminate discussion" if a player has been identified as untouchable, Towers said. "You gain no information. You want to find out who they like and what they might be willing to give up."
--RHP Joe Martinez, a six-year free agent, was signed and added to the major league roster on the first day of the winter meetings. He has been both a starter and a reliever in parts of two major league seasons and was 8-9 with a 4.04 ERA in 35 games with Cleveland's Class AAA Columbus affiliate last season. Martinez made the San Francisco staff out of spring training in 2009 but suffered a concussion when he was struck in the face by a line drive in his second appearance April 9. He did not return to the majors until August.
--RHP Brett Lorin was selected from Pittsburgh in the Rule 5 draft on the final day of the winter meetings. Lorin went 7-6 with a 2.84 ERA in 25 appearances for the Pirates' Hi-A Bradenton affiliate in the Florida State League in 2011. Lorin, 6-foot-7, was a third-round pick by Seattle in the 2008 draft before being traded to the Pirates the following year. He is 18-16 in four seasons while showing the ability to throw strikes, with 318 strikeouts and 91 walks in 341 1/3 career innings. If he does not make the D-backs' 25-man roster next spring, he must be offered back to the Pirates for half the $50,000 claiming price.
--RHP Hiroki Kuroda remains a D-backs free agent target, and manager Kirk Gibson was not shy in making his pitch in his media session at the winter meetings. "He could win 15 games for us," speculated Gibson. "I don't know if he's going to be with us. That's speculation. But certainly the kind of guy you are looking for." Kuroda, 37 in February, is 41-46 with 3.45 ERA in four seasons in the majors, all with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has walked only 163 batters in 699 innings. He made $12 million last year, and it's uncertain whether that the D-backs could afford that.
--RHP Takashi Saito, a free agent, was linked to the D-backs during the winter meetings, but general manager Kevin Towers is unlikely to enter the market for a reliever until his starting rotation is filled out. The D-backs have said they would like to add another quality arm to the bullpen, a lefty in a perfect world.
--Chief Guyton, a trusted member of general manager Kevin Towers' inner circle in San Diego, was hired as a pro scout. Guyton served as the Padres' farm director.
DIAMOND STAT: 37—Players on the D-backs' 40-man roster after the Rule 5 draft.
QUOTABLE: "They accept our offer or we trade him." —D-backs general manager Kevin Towers, on the remaining options for LHP Joe Saunders, who has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining.
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