Diamondbacks Prepare for Winter Meetings

Luke Carlin was outrighted off the 40-man (AP)

The Arizona Diamondbacks have removed two players from their 40-man roster to make room for acquisitions during the upcoming winter meetings and Rule 5 draft. The team is looking to add a #4 starter and a veteran position player, but have surprisingly not expressed the need for another arm in the bullpen.

Josh Byrnes' first trade as the Diamondbacks' general manager came at the 2005 winter meetings -- Johnny Estrada was obtained from Atlanta for Lance Cormier and Oscar Villarreal -- and Byrnes and his staff have been occupied in volleying roster makeup and potential deals in preparation for this year's meetings, which begin December 7 in Indianapolis.

That being said, the debt-ridden D-backs are unlikely to do much.

"We'd like to add a starting pitcher. With (Dan) Haren, (Brandon) Webb and (Max) Scherzer, we think we have a good three-fifths of a rotation," Byrnes said. "We'd like to add a reliever with experience. We'd like to add a position player, although we are not sure who it could be. We have a lot of versatility -- we have a lot of players who can play a lot of different positions."

Free agent Randy Wolf, who had been courted twice in the last three seasons by the D-backs, was 11-7 with a 3.23 ERA with a career-low 1.01 WHIP with the Dodgers last season, and he would seem an ideal fit. But his 2009 success likely made him too expensive for the cost-conscious D-backs, who already are obligated to pay $27.75 million -- more than one-third of their projected 2010 payroll -- to Haren, Webb and outfielder Eric Byrnes.  Wolf is also a Type-A free agent, meaning that the Diamondbacks would need to surrender their second-round draft pick in order to obtain him.

But free agent pitcher Jon Garland could be on the D-backs' wish again this winter. Garland signed with them last offseason before being traded to the Dodgers on August 31 for Arizona's likely 2010 second baseman, Tony Abreu. Garland made $9.75 million last year -- $7.25 in salary and $2.5 million when the Dodgers declined his 2010 option. He went 11-13 with a 4.01 ERA overall.

Byrnes characterized the odds as 50-50 as to whether the D-backs' fourth starter would come via trade or free agency.

The D-backs attempted to trade catcher Chris Snyder to Toronto for Lyle Overbay earlier this winter, but the Blue Jays balked. Snyder is on the block and is the most likely D-back to be traded after the emergence of catcher Miguel Montero last season, but it is unlikely that he alone would be enough to return a #4 starter.

Brandon Lyon, a likely bullpen target, was offered arbitration by Detroit and has until December 7 to accept. Lyon is a Type B free agent, so if he hits the open market, his new team would not be on the hook for a draft pick.

SNAKE BYTES

--The Diamondbacks went to the December 1 deadline before deciding against offering arbitration to LHP Doug Davis, lest he accept. Davis made $8.75 million while going 9-14 with a 4.12 ERA last year. Late in the regular season, the D-backs offered Davis a one-year deal, and the Davis camp came back with a three-year proposal, but neither side moved. The D-backs made a similar determination on OF Adam Dunn after the 2008 season, then failed to offer arbitration because they feared a sagging economy would made it likely that Dunn would accept. Dunn made $13 million in 2008; he signed a two-year, $20 million free agent deal with Washington following that season.

--As expected, 3B/1B Chad Tracy, who spent his entire career with the D-backs, was not offered salary arbitration. Tracy, who was bothered by injuries much of the last three seasons, hit .237 with 15 doubles, eight home runs, and 39 RBI in 257 at-bats in 2009. He is second in franchise history with 153 doubles, third with 704 games, and fourth in hits (654), RBI (318), and at-bats (2,338) after being promoted early in the 2004 season.

--LHP Scott Schoeneweis was not offered arbitration. Schoeneweis' wife, Gabrielle, was found dead in the couple's suburban Phoenix home on May 20, and Schoeneweis subsequently spent time on the bereavement list and on the disabled list for depression, finishing his first season with the D-backs at 1-2 with a 7.12 ERA. Gabrielle Schoeneweis was found to have died from an overdose of cocaine and the anesthetic lidocaine, an appellate court disclosed December 2. The three-judge Court of Appeals reported the cause of death, which Schoeneweis filed suit to bar, in a ruling over whether an autopsy report and other records must be disclosed under Arizona public records law.

--C Luke Carlin and RHP Kyler Newby were outrighted to Class AAA Reno on December 3. The move cleared two spots on the 40-man roster in advance of the winter meetings and the Rule 5 draft.

--Brett Butler will return as manager at Class AAA Reno after being interviewed for a major league coaching position with Florida. Butler was a candidate to become third base coach with the Marlins, who instead chose Josue Espada. Butler, a 17-year major league outfielder who was the D-backs' first base coach in 2005, was not interviewed for either D-backs' coaching vacancy this fall, when the team added Bo Porter as the third base coach and Matt  Williams as first base coach. "If I can't be in the big leagues, there is no better place to be," Butler told a Reno newspaper. Reno went 79-64 in its inaugural season.

DIAMOND STAT:
7 - Number of starting first basemen the Diamondbacks used this year

QUOTABLE:
"As always, we've been working for several weeks on (trade opportunities at) the winter meetings. There is added intensity because everyone is there, but it's hard to predict timing." -- GM Josh Byrnes, on the likelihood of making a deal at the winter meetings.
 


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