Aiming at Garza
The name at the front of the D-backs list still appears to be free-agent Matt Garza, and things seemed to start off looking bright on that front.
Teams that have checked in on Matt Garza are being told he could sign in next 24-48 hours. Lots of #Diamondbacks buzz today.— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) December 11, 2013
Most people I trust still believe that of Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez and Santana, Garza is the guy the #Dbacks want the most. Still lots of buzz.— Bernie Pleskoff (@BerniePleskoff) December 11, 2013
However, the same things that make Garza attractive to the Diamondbacks are exactly the same things that make him attractive to every other team seeking starting pitching (which would be "every other team," more or less, with the possible exception of the San Francisco Giants). In a "meh" free-agent market, he's the best arm available, and he won't cost a first-round draft-pick. So he isn't going to be cheap: in the open thread, Marc speculated Garza's price would be "around 4/64 to 5/80."
Part of the problem with that is Kevin Towers has expressed a reluctance to give long-term contracts to starting pitchers:
Towers said he's been telling free agents he'd rather pay a higher salary on a shorter deal. Won't go to five years, probably not even four.— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) December 11, 2013
That certainly sets the team back in the chase for free agency: what their offers lack in years, will have to be made up for in annual value. Steve Gilbert had more on Towers' reluctance: "Longer contracts for pitchers always I thought were pretty risky. It seems like most of the free-agent pitching out there are looking for longer term than we're probably interested in. It depends on the individual, too. Some guys are a little older or there's more risk attached to them, some have had health issues in the past, others haven't. I'd say anything beyond three to me could be risky." Towers also pointed out Garza's agent left Florida on Wednesday, appearing to indicate the pitcher won't sign during the meetings.
If not him, then who?
Ken Rosenthal has some suggestions:
Sources: #DBacks' No. 1 target is Tanaka. Continue to explore trades, free agents as they await decision on whether Tanaka will be posted.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
Tanaka is, obviously, the dream ticket for everyone - and it wouldn't surprise me if Garza doesn't sign until Tanaka has come off the market, because anyone in on the former, is probably also interested in the latter. Indeed, it seems highly likely that Towers' aversion to any deal longer than three years for a pitcher, probably does not apply for Tanaka. It does appear increasingly likely that the Japanese ace will indeed be posted, and even if the resulting battle for his services will no longer involve a sky-rocketing posting fee, as before, it's likely that the team with the deepest pockets will come out on top. But, wait! There's more from Rosenthal!
Sources: In addition to talking to Garza, the #Dbacks met with agents for Ervin Santana. Signing Santana would cost them first-round pick.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 11, 2013
The Mets and the Tigers appear also to kicking the tires on Santana, who had a nice season last year, putting up a 3.24 ERA in 32 starts for the Royals. However, it was above five with the Angels the previous year, and his career ERA+ is a lot lower than his 2013 performance (100, compared to 127), which suggests someone will likely end up overpaying for Santana's services.
Didi the Yankee?
#Yankees like #diamondbacks Didi Gregorius. Wonder if could play at 2b this yr and have as Jeter insurance in '14, replacement in '15— Joel Sherman (@Joelsherman1) December 11, 2013
Well, those would certainly be some big shoes for Gregorius to fill in the big apple. If we were looking at getting prospects back, the Yankees system isn't as denuded of talent as it has been - Baseball America ranked them in the middle of the pack, at #16. However, I would imagine the D-backs would be looking, in any trade, to address their needs for the coming season, and it's not clear what New York would be able to offer that would fill any of those holes for Arizona.
Also in Florida
The main news elsewhere round the complex, was the Mets apparently reaching agreement on a two-year deal with pitcher Bartolo Colon, worth $20 million. Colon turned 40 in May, but has been pretty durable, averaging 169 innings and 27 starts over the past three seasons. The Mariners signed outfielder Corey Hart, to an incentive-laded one-year deal worth a base amount of $6 million, but which could apparently reach double that if he hits all the targets. The Pirates were the ones buying low on Edinson Volquez, inking the starter to a one-year, $5 million deal, and the Mariners acquired Logan Morrison from the Marlins.