After reaching an impasse with Miguel Montero on a new contract, the Diamondbacks could turn their attention toward signing frontline starters Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson to long-term contracts this spring, and one source with knowledge of the D-backs' plans told FOXSportsArizona.com that talks could begin "soon."
"We have several guys here who we have talked about. We haven't engaged any of them as yet. That's not to say that at some point in time we might end up seeing if there is some common ground," general manager Kevin Towers said. "We think a lot of Daniel. We think a lot of Ian."
While Montero was the first offseason priority because he will be eligible for free agency after this season, Kennedy, 21-4 and fourth in the NL Cy Young balloting last year, will become arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Hudson (16-12, 3.49 ERA) probably would not hit his first arbitration year until after the 2013 season, although there is a chance that he could become a "Super Two."
Long-term deals benefit the D-backs through cost certainty. The players have the incentive of early security and also of avoiding the yearly arbitration and free agent negotiations.
"If you are able to get them through the arbitration process and maybe a year of free agency, that's one less thing that you have to deal with and they have to deal with. Sometimes it's a win-win for both sides," Towers said.
Towers has done it before. He signed pitchers Jake Peavy (twice) and his Chris Young to long-term deals while in San Diego, although it did not always work out. Peavy won an NL Cy Young Award and was the mainstay of the Padres' rotation in their playoff seasons in the mid-2000s but was traded in 2009 because of his large contract, and Young suffered shoulder injuries that sidelined him for years.
"With pitchers, I'm a little more skeptical because of the risk of injury than a position player," conceded Towers. "The first Peavy deal worked out, the second not so well. But when they are young and in their prime, there is probably less risk for injury than when they are in their 30s."
--C Miguel Montero and the D-backs called off negotiations on a long-term contract March 1, a day before St. Louis C Yadier Molina's five-year, $75 million extension was announced. "There are no hard feelings," assured Montero. "It's just part of the game. I just have to go out and prove it again." Montero hit .282 with 36 doubles, 18 home runs and 86 RBI in 2011, leading NL catchers in doubles and RBI.
--RHP Ian Kennedy is scheduled to make his second consecutive Opening Day start when the D-backs open at home against San Francisco on April 6, manager Kirk Gibson announced. Kennedy went 3-0 with a 1.22 ERA in five starts against the Giants last season, when he went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA overall.
--SS Stephen Drew (right ankle) was on an early spring schedule of two days on the field and one day off as he attempts to return from his season-ending injury, suffered last July 20. Drew and manager Kirk Gibson see progress but urge caution. Drew has not run the bases or done any sliding and is not expected to participate in early spring training games. "Not even close," said Gibson, who plans to err on the side of caution.
--RHP Daniel Hudson, LHP Joe Saunders, RHP Trevor Cahill, and RHP Josh Collmenter opened the spring as the #2-5 starters in the rotation, although Gibson said he could tweak the alignment depending on what he sees this spring. Saunders spent last season as the third starter behind Kennedy and Hudson, but it is a surprise that he is slotted ahead of Cahill, the D-backs' biggest acquisition of the winter. Collmenter was used as the #3 starter in the NLDS primarily because of his success against Milwaukee in the regular season.
--LHP Tyler Skaggs (shoulder) was scratched from his first scheduled spring start because of minor soreness. Skaggs was to start the split-squad exhibition opener against Colorado on March 3, with top prospect RHP Trevor Bauer to follow. "I'm trying to develop our depth. It will give us the opportunity to see what they can do," Gibson said.
DIAMOND STAT:10-0 -- RHP Ian Kennedy's record against the NL West last year.
QUOTABLE: "He's a very good player, and as I look at the series last year, we had our chance to beat them. They beat us fair and square, and I've got no problem with anything that's happened." -- D-backs manager Kirk Gibson, after Milwaukee LF Ryan Braun's appeal of his 50-game suspension was upheld. Braun tested position for an elevated testosterone level following the first game of the NLDS against the D-backs on October 1.
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