The D-backs offseason and the sound of silence

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It has been quiet for the Diamondbacks this winter so far. But is it too quiet? For there seems a certain nervousness among fans at the apparent inactivity of Kevin Towers.

"It's not easy to find bargains in November."- Kevin Towers

Certainly, Towers has been doing the SnakePit no favors, in terms of moves worth writing about here. A month after the end of the World Series, we haven't acquired anyone who played in the major-leagues last year, and the only departure, beyond the known free-agents, has been the designation of Tony Sipp for assignment. In terms of getting the hot stove going, it has been like trying to start a fire by breathing heavily on your kindling.

Admittedly, you can argue that there isn't much "need" for activity. Sipp, along with free-agents Willie Bloomquist and Eric Chavez, combined for 6.4% of plate-appearances and 2.5% of innings pitched for the Diamondbacks last year, so in terms of replacements, it seems more like a few spots of touch-up on the corners, rather than a rebuild from the ground up. Even if you add replacing Ian Kennedy's 21 starts, Jason Kubel's 267 PAs, and Matt Reynolds 27.1 innings, since none of them will be contributing in 2014, you can kinda see why Towers hasn't been knocking down doors in the hopes of snaring a Black Friday special.

On the other hand, this is a team which certainly needs to improve. After a second consecutive season at the .500 mark, and with peripherals like run differential suggesting they were significantly worse than the 2012 team, it's easy to understand concern about the lack of action. While we can legitimately hope for some improvement coming from those currently signed - Miguel Montero not sucking as much, and Aaron Hill's count of functioning limbs remaining above three - I don't think I'd be overly optimistic to see us going in to the 2014 campaign with the roster which finished 2013. Finishing nine games out of even the second wild-card spot does leave a desire for better.

But it's worth noting that at the same point last season, there had been almost no activity by the Diamondbacks either. The only significant moves i.e. involving players who would appear for us in 2013, made before the end of November, were the signing of Tuffy Gosewisch (Nov 4), and the trade of Ryan Wheeler to the Rockies in exchange for Matt Reynolds (Nov 20). It was into December before things started to heat up, with the signing of Eric Hinske and Wil Nieves on December 6, Eric Chavez two days later, and then the winter meetings in Florida saw the signings of Brandon McCarthy and Josh Wilson, as well as the Trevor Bauer/Didi Gregorius trade.

Holding back is something of a double-edged sword. Obviously, the pool of available players does shrink as time passes, with free agents signing new contracts, and those on the trading block being dealt. However, you can argue that this shrinking pool could also increase the return in value for sellers, as trade partners become more desperate to plug holes. For instance, the Yankees may currently be negotiating with Robinson Cano, but if he doesn't descend from his current $300 million (or thereabout) demands, then they'll be looking for an alternate, with increasing urgency. Hello! Can we interest you in a gently-used Aaron Hill?

The team has to decide by tomorrow whether to offer contracts to their arbitration-eligible players, but with the departure of Sipp, the others seem virtually like no-brainers: Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson, Gerardo Parra, Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler just about all are players the team would want to retain without a second thought. Hudson is perhaps the only one requiring any consideration, given the uncertain status of his return from his second Tommy John surgery, and you're paying for his 2015 services more than next year. But it's likely to be such a low-cost gamble, considering the price of pitching, that it's worth it.

Otherwise... Well, I've a feeling things will probably remain largely quiet until we get to the Winter Meetings, which start in eight days time. Though Towers gave vague reason to suspect otherwise, when he spoke to Steve Gilbert at the start of the week. "Things may even happen before we get to the Winter Meetings. I feel like I gained enough information that I have a pretty good idea who people like from us and what's available out there right now in areas that are needs for us, which is starting pitching and outfield bats." It certainly seems a trade is more likely, with Towers unimpressed by the free-agent market, calling it "not a place where I want to do a lot of business."

Overall, I think there will probably be a significant amount of activity over the rest of the winter. it's not like we're the Giants which, as our colleagues over at Purple Row pointed out, appear to be about a left-fielder away from being ready for Opening Day. So we'll have things to take about... eventually. However, today isn't that day, and tomorrow doesn't look too good either...

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