2:13pm: Webb won't be signing cheaply. In an email to MLBTR, his agent Jonathan Maurer said:
"Webb loves Arizona and they will be considered highly, but Brandon WILL be looking at an incentive-based contract [with] a guaranteed base where [Brad] Penny and [Rich] Harden at $7.5MM, [Ben] Sheets at $10MM and [Tim] Hudson's $9.33MM average annual value are all conversation starters. Webb, when healthy, is one of the top pitchers in the game. Arizona is a great place to play, ([though] it has always been a hitter's park, Webb has dominated there) but I anticipate significant interest in what is a very healthy Brandon Webb, with his signature life back on all his pitches."
8:37am: When Josh Byrnes exercised Brandon Webb's 2010 club option in January, the expectation was that the pitcher would be ready for Spring Training following August shoulder surgery. Webb declined the team's overtures regarding a 2011 option, and I even opined that a return to form in 2010 could lead to an $80MM deal.
What a difference eight months makes. Byrnes was canned, replaced by Jerry Dipoto on an interim basis. Veterans Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Chris Snyder, and Chad Qualls were shipped out, saving the team many millions. And setbacks in Webb's recovery have him looking at a potential September debut in a relief role. Webb explained to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro:
"The next few weeks are huge for next year. For one, I want to prove it to myself. And, two, I want to prove not only to the Diamondbacks but all the other teams out there that might be interested in me playing for them next year."
Despite the changes with the team, Webb's stance toward returning to the Diamondbacks next year remains the same. He hopes to return, but he understands he might end up leaving. Webb knows he's looking at an incentive-based deal, and says it'll be in the team's hands after the season. He had positive words for the revamped Arizona pitching staff, which is now built around Ian Kennedy, Joe Saunders, Dan Hudson, and Barry Enright.
Webb made similar comments about returning to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick in January, but at that time he focused a bit more on doing the best for his family and playing near his Kentucky home. At the time, I noted that Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland are fits geographically.