Reynolds, Upton deals on D-backs' radar
Team exploring options for multiyear pacts for young stars
PHOENIX -- Their arbitration-eligible players all taken care of thanks to the Valentine's Day signing of right-hander Edwin Jackson, the D-backs front office will turn its attention to signing players with less than three years of big league service.
That typically involves one-year deals, but in the case of third baseman Mark Reynolds and right fielder Justin Upton, it appears the D-backs have at least begun to explore multiyear pacts.
When asked about the long-term futures of Reynolds and Upton in Arizona during a question-and-answer session during last weekend's FanFest, general manager Josh Byrnes said, "We always have those conversations. Whether we can get them done or not, I don't know. It's an issue we try to stay ahead of. We've talked to those guys. We'll see if it leads to a deal or not."
Both players will be eligible for arbitration next year and will see huge jumps in their salaries at that time.
Later in the Q&A session, Byrnes was asked about losing Upton to free agency four years from now.
"I think every team goes through that crossroads," Byrnes said regarding free agency for a key player. "Now you're hearing Derek Jeter, Joe Mauer and Albert Pujols. It creates tension in almost any organization because you have to decide. OK, you sign Matt Holliday for $120 million. Do you solve a problem or create a problem? And it's not always easy. Justin, we've worked very hard on the relationship. He's done his part. What he's done at his age is Hall of Fame caliber. So the relationship is very strong it's just a matter of putting a business transaction to it. It's a priority, it's never going to be an at-all-cost priority. We have the next four years of Justin Upton. Would we like to say we have six years of Justin Upton? Absolutely, we've just got to work at it a little bit."
Byrnes was part of the Indians' front office in the 1990s that locked up core players to multiyear deals, the first time it had been done on a widespread basis by an organization. Since taking over the D-backs, Byrnes has signed a number of players -- right-hander Brandon Webb, catcher Chris Snyder, right-hander Dan Haren and center fielder Chris Young -- to multiyear deals that included at least one year of free agency.
Reynolds said a little less than two weeks ago that his representatives have had discussions with the D-backs on two- or three-year deals.
"It's kind of a sticky situation," Reynolds said. "I don't really want to say much about it, but there are talks. There's years being thrown back and forth right now. No money yet, but it could be anywhere from a two- to three-year deal with a couple of options is what I hear. I think the week of the 15th there's going to be some formal offers made, at least that's what my agent told me."
That would be this week, but finding out when that will happen or if it has already taken place is not that easy as Byrnes prefers to keep these types of talks out of the public eye.
"We have an ongoing dialogue at all times with many of our players," he said. "With respect to what people want to call active negotiations, I won't comment on that. I'll just say we keep the lines of communication open."
It would seem more likely that the team would be able to get something done with Reynolds, because the price tag for Upton figures to be higher given what he has accomplished for a guy that does not turn 23 until August.
Also any potential deal would likely happen before Opening Day as D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick said he would not like to see talks drag into the regular season.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.