Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 12/9/11
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks made some headway at the winter meetings while laying the groundwork for more. Lyle Overbay will be back. Joe Saunders most likely will not. And Kevin Towers, as always, showed a willingness to embrace the art of the deal, even though the Diamondbacks were unable to find a fit at the winter meetings that ended with the selection of Class A right-hander Brett Lorin in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. The D-backs still want to add a starting pitcher to a rotation headed by Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson, and they continue to have interest in free agent right-hander Hiroki Kuroda, whose plan to seek a one- or two-year contract dovetails with the D-backs interest in maintaining room for their top young pitching prospects in the near future. The most noteworthy news to come out of the meetings, however, was the fact that Towers had conversations with Oakland regarding starting pitchers Gio Gonzalez and Trevor Cahill. Both Gonzalez and Cahill have a lot to offer -- they are young, they have had successful major league years and they are controllable for the next three years. They would be a fit for years to come. While talks cooled when the As were said to be seeking a "Dan Haren" package, a reference to the D-backs' acquisition of Haren in the winter of 2007 for a six-player package that included top prospects Carlos Gonzalez and Brett Anderson, the fact that Towers kicked the tires showed his mindset. In the right deal, anybody is available, even the cream of a minor league system that includes top pitching prospects Tyler Skaggs, Jarrod Parker, Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin. Towers said before the meetings that there are no untouchables on the D-backs roster, a tack he took when exploring the market for Justin Upton last winter. The D-backs did not pull the trigger on any Upton deal because they considered the price too steep, but they were able to get a feel for the market. "You eliminate discussion" if a player has been identified as untouchable, Towers said. "You gain no information. You want to find out who they (other teams) like and what they might be willing to give up." So Towers left the meetings with a few trade proposals on the table and a better idea of the value of his system as well as the option of adding a starter via trade of free agency, whichever presents itself first in the coming weeks. The most pressing issue now is the future of left-hander Saunders, which truth be told, seems pretty black and white. "They accept our offer or we trade him," Towers told reporters at the meetings. The D-backs presented Saunders with a two-year contract offer Monday, and his camp came back with a counterproposal Tuesday that was too rich for the D-backs blood. Saunders is in his final year of salary arbitration eligibility, and he could be expected to earn about 8.5 million in 2012. But Towers told reporters at the meetings that offering arbitration is not an option. The deadline for tendering a contract is Monday. If the D-backs do not offer, Saunders becomes a free agent. If Saunders does not return, the D-backs still plan to seek a proven starter, believing it is unwise to rely completely on their young talent pool right away. Right-hander Josh Collmenter, who started ahead of Saunders in the National League Division Series, is the No. 3 starter for now. "That would be a little risky, Towers said. "You would have one guy with less than one year of experience and two guys with none." Overbay, meanwhile, has agreed in principle on a one-year deal to return as a backup and mentor to first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. All that remained when the meetings broke was finalizing the contract language. In Lorin, the D-backs found another pitcher who seems to fill Towers exacting specifications. He throws strikes, he keeps the ball down with his best pitch, a changeup, and at 6-foot-7 he provides hitters an unusual arm angle. A fifth-round draft pick out of Long Beach State in 2008, Lorin was 7-6 with a 2.84 at Class A Bradenton in the Pittsburgh organization last year. He has never pitched above Class A, but the D-backs will consider him for a bullpen role. The D-backs also continued to speak to the agent for Miguel Montero about a long-term extension and while nothing was agreed upon, it seems only a matter of time. Montero, who had a career year in 2011, is in his final year of arbitration eligibility.
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