Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/2/11
The winter meetings, major league baseballs version of the preholiday shop-a-thon, begins Monday. You can almost feel Kevin Towers trigger finger twitching. All those general managers. All those agents. All those windows of opportunity. All those possibilities. But unlike last winter, when Towers retooled the Diamondbacks into the NL West champion by adding free agent closer J.J. Putz and trading Mark Reynolds and the 13 million remaining on his contract for setup man David Hernandez, the D-backs do not appear likely to make a large splash in Dallas although, knowing Towers and his willingness to deal, nothing should be ruled out. Nobody is untouchable in the right deal, Towers said. At the same time, the D-backs enter these meetings in good shape after a 94-victory 2011. They have no bad contracts. They have a talented group of youngish core players Justin Upton, Chris Young, Miguel Montero, Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson and a minor league system that is awash in quality prospects, especially pitching. Towers short list this time is another veteran starting pitcher and a bullpen arm, preferably left-handed, although quality matters more than the arm. The D-backs also are want to add a left-handed hitting first baseman to back up and mentor Paul Goldschmidt, and it could again be Lyle Overbay, who was signed in mid-August and played a valuable role down the stretch. The D-backs have a contract offer on the table to Overbay, believed to be a one-year deal, and expect to know in the first few days of the meetings if he will rejoin them. Its really pitching more than anything else, Towers said of his target areas in Dallas. Our focus is to add another reliever and another starter. In a perfect world, we would like to have two lefties in the bullpen, but we dont have to go that way. One of my best bullpens, in San Diego in 1996, had no left-handers. The D-backs believe they are more likely to find their pitching in the free-agent market, although Towers did not rule out a trade. The most likely trade commodity appears to be left-hander Joe Saunders, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and is controlled by the D-backs until Dec. 12, when they must decide whether to offer him a contract or let him go via free agency. Saunders won 12 games with a 3.69 ERA last season and could earn around 7.5 million in 2012. The D-backs already have sent out feelers on Los Angeles Dodgers free agent Hiroki Kuroda and Chicago White Sox free agent Mark Buehrle, although of those two Kuroda is the more likely candidate because, at age 37, he is said to be seeking a one- or two-year contract. Buehrle is said to be looking for another four- or five-year deal, and the D-backs do not want to make such a long-term commitment. More important than the dollars, we want to have room for the young guys, Towers said. If they are not ready this year, we think they will be ready next year. Were not looking to lock up a (veteran) pitcher for a long term. We may not do anything. A lot depends on the market. In a perfect world, it would be nice to have an innings-eater. If the D-backs keep Saunders or add another veteran starter to go with Kennedy, Hudson and Josh Collmenter, the final rotation spot could go to either Jarrod Parker or Wade Miley, both of whom finished the season with the D-backs. Tyler Skaggs, the top prospect in the California League and the No. 2 prospect in the Southern League as voted by Baseball America, 2011 No. 1 draft pick Trevor Bauer, Scottsdales Charles Brewer and Patrick Corbin are considered close. Former D-backs Jon Garland, Javier Vazquez and Doug Davis are free agents, as are Joel Pineiro, Kevin Millwood and Paul Maholm. Left-handed relievers Joe Beimel and Valley resident John Grabow are in the free agent pool, as is local right-hander Mike MacDougal. The D-backs have told Overbay that he will be in the same role as last season, and his camp is evaluating the market to see if there is more playing time available elsewhere. Overbay, who played for 5 million last year but would probably have to take less to return, said at the D-backs recent golf outing that he would like to be back. He did a nice job. Hes a good defender and a professional hitter, Towers said. He understands his role. It would be very similar to the one he had last year, playing against a tough right-hander starter or giving Paul a day off.
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