D-backs remain cool to free-agent market
GM Towers still eyeing trades as way to fill club's needs in pitching, outfield
PHOENIX -- Heading into the offseason, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers figured it would be more likely that he would fill his team's needs through trades rather than free agency.
After seeing what free agents thus far have signed for, Towers seems more convinced.
"I've spoken a little to our own free agents, but from the looks of where this free agent market is right now and where it's headed, it's not a place where I want to do a lot of business," Towers said.
The D-backs made an offer to infielder Eric Chavez, but he has drawn interest from several teams, and with their logjam at shortstop, the D-backs would like to wait and see if they end up trading a shortstop or two before deciding on Willie Bloomquist. They might not have that luxury, though, as Bloomquist could be snatched up quickly by a team with shortstop needs.
The GM Meetings earlier this month gave Towers a chance to talk face to face with other teams and get a feel for what players he might be interested in dealing are worth.
"Things may even happen before we get to the Winter Meetings," Towers said of the annual event from Dec. 9-12. "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."
The D-backs have depth at shortstop with Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and veteran Cliff Pennington and they also have depth in center with young players A.J. Pollock and Adam Eaton. Veteran Gerardo Parra can also play center.
"We've been asked a lot about our young players and our upper-level prospects," Towers said. "I think we knew that, but the more we get hit on them, it's nice to know that the rest of the industry probably values our players as well as we do and even more."
The D-backs will need to decide by Dec. 2 whether to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players Josh Collmenter, Daniel Hudson, Parra, Joe Thatcher and Brad Ziegler.
The D-backs outrighted left-hander Tony Sipp, who had been an arbitration-eligible player, but the team would like to hang on to the others. The only question mark is what to do about Hudson, who missed more than half of 2012 and all of 2013 due to a pair of Tommy John surgeries. Hudson is not expected to return to action before August and the team is likely to try to reach an agreement with him before the tender deadline.
Towers said he would like to have the coaching staff rounded out before Thanksgiving, but depending on how long it takes to negotiate with the candidates they select for pitching coach and bullpen coach as well as background checks on the pair, they might not be able to do so before next week.
While they may not be active in the free-agent market now, it doesn't mean the D-backs won't swoop in during January when it becomes more of a buyer's market.
"It's not easy to find bargains in November," Towers said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.