ESPN's Buster Olney did describe the Diamondbacks as "one of the most aggressive teams here so far," but this has not translated into significant actual moves Nick Piecoro said, "It’s not that the Diamondbacks aren’t busy; it’s just that they’re keeping their doings tightly under wraps." Not really much of a surprise there: most of the big moves GM Kevin Towers has pulled off in the past seem largely to have come out of nowhere, rather than being preceded by a slew of press reports, as is the case with some franchises.
With regard to Justin Upton, if Texas generally appear to remain the most-commonly mentioned trading partner, Jon Heyman reported that Arizona met with Seattle on Monday night to discuss Upton, throwing the names of prospects Walker and Nick Franklin into the mix. Franklin would give the team a shortstop with long-term control, having hit .278/.347/.453 between Double-A and Triple-A last season in the Mariners' organization. However, Walker is some way from being the major-league ready pitcher the Diamondbacks are seeking. He only turned 20 in August and his numbers thus year at Double-A were unimpressive (4.69 ERA, 118:50 K:BB ration in 126.2 IP).
However, speaking on the debut edition of KTAR's D-backs Hot Stove Show, manager Kirk Gibson was at pains to point out that many discussion like that occur during the winter meetings, and the vast majority of them fail to result in anything. On the same show, Kevin Towers pointed out that when bigger players like Upton are involved, deals will typically take a longer time to be worked out, and it could well be late December before everything falls into place - indeed, if there's a deal to be made at all. That may be why Towers told Jack Magruder that Upton was not the most popular name in trade talks, though would not say which Arizona player was.
The team announced that they have sold the contract of reliever Brad Bergesen to the Chunichi Dragons of the Japanese Central League. They also confirmed the signings of a slew of minor league free-agents who'll show up in spring training. As well as Kila Ka'aihue, first reported ten days or so ago, here's brief details of the other names inked to deals:
- LHP Rommie Lewis - named after WW2 German Field Marshall Rommel. Well, actually, named after his father, who was named after Rommel. the reliever made 20 appearances for the Blue Jays in 2010 and 2011, posting a 7.23 ERA. Played for indy league Bridgeport last season, and put up a 2.01 ERA in 48 appearances. He's currently pitching in the Dominican winter leagues.
- LHP Eddie Bonine - grew up in Arizona, going to Mountain Ridge HS and Glendale CC. He was originally a D-backs draft pick, from the 20th round in 2001, but didn't sign. From 2008-10, he was with the Tigers and appeared in 62 games (10 starts) with a 4.74 ERA. He was with the Phillies in 2011, but missed all of 2012 due to Tommy John surgery.
- C Humberto Cota - debuted as a 22-year-old in 2001 with the Pirates, and appeared in 196 games for them between then and 2007. In May 2008, while in the Rockies' organization, he failed a drug test and was suspended for 50 games - he has spent most of his time since then playing with Monterey of the Mexican League.
- OF Brad Snyder - was a first-round draft pick, the Indians taking him with the 18th overall choice in 2003. Despite a couple of close calls e.g. he was a September call-up but never got into a game, it took him more than seven years and 3,500 minor league PAs before he finally reached the majors in September 2010 with the Cubs. In 20 games he has gone 6-for-36.
- C Tuffy Gosewisch - can relate to Snyder's struggled, having now spent eight seasons in the minors without yet reaching the majors. The ASU graduate was part of the 2005 team which reached the College World Series. He has been a long-time favorite of the SnakePit, mostly due to his very cool name, which we first noted in 2009.
With regard to what moves the team would like to make, a solid starting pitcher seems like the most obvious priority, Towers saying, "It would have to be the right guy at the top end of the rotation that we think is a difference-maker on our ball club if we are going to take innings away from our young guys. The one-year rental type guys are probably not the type of guys that we’re targeting. I’d rather give the innings to the Corbins, Skaggses and Bauers." He added that he felt the free-agent market for starting pitching was generally inflated, and that "a lot of the second-tier guys are being paid like first-year guys."
Interestingly, even though the team declined the option on catcher Henry Blanco, that may have been more a tactical move, than necessarily any aversion to him returning. The same goes for Wil Nieves, whose likely arbitration value was felt to be too rich for the team. Towers explained: "Rather than locking into it early, we wanted to see what non-tenders might be out there, what free agents might be out there, what other catchers might be available via trade." Lines of communication with the players' agents are being kept open.
Let's finish by going back to the inevitable Justin Upton rumor mill, and more quotes, from the same piece, by Towers on why he is always ready to listen:
"My style is not to say that we’re not going to listen on any of our players. If people inquire, I’ll listen on all of our players. Some clubs may take the direction where this guy is untouchable and we’re married to him and he’s our guy, but I’ve never done it and never will. You may not like that style, but that’s the way I do it. The players don’t like it, so be it. These guys are well-paid professionals. Rumors happens. Your name is going to be asked about in trades. The good ones are kind of able to put on their blinders, man, and say, 'I can only worry about what I can control and what I can’t control I’m not going to let it affect me.' It’s not different than if my name were out there about getting canned. I can only worry about my job and what I do. If it happens, it happens. There’s nothing I can control, I can just go out there and do the best job that I can."