Arizona Diamondbacks Rumors

NL West Notes: Maholm, Arroyo, Delgado

If things went differently, Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson could have found himself on the pages of Pro Football Rumors rather than MLBTR.  Gibson was a standout wide receiver at Michigan State in 1977 and in an effort to increase his leverage with the NFL, he returned to the baseball diamond for the first time since high school, writes Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic.  When the Tigers drafted Gibson with the 12th pick in the 1978 draft, they allowed him to finish out his senior season but made him give up on the NFL.  Here's more out of the NL West..

  • Dodgers manager Don Mattingly says that newly-acquired starter Paul Maholm knows he might wind up pitching in relief if Josh Beckett is healthy and named the fifth starter, tweets Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
  • Diamondbacks newcomer Bronson Arroyo might not give Arizona the kind of production they were hoping to get out of a rotation addition this winter, but he should give them plenty of innings, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
  • Randall Delgado is out-of-options, but the Diamondbacks won't let him get away, tweets Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona.  The D'Backs want to keep all of their assets so if he's not in the starting five, they'll slot him in the bullpen.

West Notes: Dodgers, Diamondbacks, A’s

Dodgers starter Zack Greinke is on the record with his assessment of rotation-mate Clayton Kershaw's seven-year, $215MM megadeal, telling Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that Kershaw will earn "maybe … a little more than I thought, maybe a million a year more." The always-frank Greinke says the deal is likely fair for both sides, though he adds that Kershaw's opt-out clause, which could allow him to enter the free-agent market at age 30, may tilt the pact in favor of the pitcher. "The opt-out is big … That's the main reason you might say it will be better [for Kershaw]," Greinke said. Greinke, of course, has an opt-out clause in his own contract that could see him hit the free agent market again after the 2015 season. Here's more from baseball's Western divisions:

  • The Diamondbacks will likely send whoever loses the battle for their shortstop job to the minors, GM Kevin Towers told Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, with veteran Cliff Pennington expected to make the club as a backup. Towers is already indicating that Didi Gregorius may be the favorite over Chris Owings, however, noting his strong play in 2013 as a rookie.
  • Athletics stars Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes both say they'd like to remain with the A's beyond their current years of team control, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Cespedes reportedly turned down longer-term deals with other clubs for his current four-year deal with Oakland, which will allow him to become a free agent again at age 30. However, he says his preference will be to remain with the A's if he receives equivalent offers from Oakland and another club at that time.

Quick Hits: Arroyo, Athletics, Bray, Cardinals, Brewers

The Diamondbacks' signing of Bronson Arroyo was a mistake, ESPN's Keith Law writes (Insider-only). Law argues that Arroyo's declining velocity, tendency to give up homers, and struggles with lefties all make him a bad bet for two years and $23.5MM. Arroyo allowed 32 homers last season (although 19 of them were in the Reds' homer-friendly ballpark), and lefties hit .295/.327/.529 against him. He's also had an average fastball velocity of about 87 MPH the past several seasons, which Law suggests has been one cause of his home-run problems. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • GM Billy Beane says the Athletics are done making significant moves this offseason, Jane Lee of MLB.com tweets. The A's have been busy this winter, adding Scott Kazmir, Jim Johnson, Luke Gregerson and Eric O'Flaherty to their pitching staff and Nick Punto to their infield. They also lost Bartolo Colon, Grant Balfour, and Chris Young via free agency, traded Brett Anderson and Jerry Blevins and signed Coco Crisp to an extension.
  • Lefty reliever Bill Bray wants to continue his career, but might wait until May to sign, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter). Bray pitched just four games in the Nationals system in 2013, missing most of the season due to injuries. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2012 with the Reds. 
  • The Cardinals have the flexibility to make a significant move this spring, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes. After the departures of Carlos Beltran, Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and Rafael Furcal, among others, the Cardinals' payroll is down significantly from last season, even after the addition of Jhonny Peralta. Their free payroll and strong collection of young pitching mean they'll be able to make a big trade if the right opportunity presents itself.
  • Scout.com's Kiley McDaniel looks ahead to the July 2nd market for international prospects. He notes rumors that Dominican third baseman Gilbert Lara already has a $3.2MM deal in place with the Brewers, not generally a team known for splashy international signings. Dominican shortstop Dermis Garcia, meanwhile, reportedly has a $3MM deal in place with the Yankees, who figure to be big spenders in the international market this summer.


Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Orioles Finalists For Arroyo

2:55pm: Arroyo may have a clearer picture of where he's going to land by the end of the day today, a baseball source tells ESPN's Jerry Crasnick (Twitter link).

FRIDAY, 12:44pm: Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio tweets that Arroyo will end up signing with either the Dodgers or the Diamondbacks.

THURSDAY: Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets that Arroyo's camp has lowered the asking price to the two-year, $22MM range, and the Orioles and Diamondbacks are "definitely pushing" for the veteran righty.

WEDNESDAY, 9:32pm: The D'Backs are "very serious" about signing Arroyo and are planning to meet with him, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe tweets.

2:11pm: The Diamondbacks, Dodgers, and Orioles are the three finalists to land free agent starter Bronson Arroyo, reports Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). Among those clubs, the Diamondbacks are "slight favorites" to lock up the soon-to-be 37-year-old.

We heard recently that Arroyo had yet to receive a firm offer, but reported interest has never waned in the durable righty. Another recent report suggested that Arroyo has continued to ask clubs for a third guaranteed year. Arizona, a newer entrant to the chase for Arroyo, is said to be interested in a two-year pact. 


Diamondbacks Avoid Arbitration With Mark Trumbo

The Diamondbacks have avoided arbitration with Mark Trumbo, settling on a one-year, $4.8MM deal, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports via Twitter. Trumbo's salary lands just north of the $4.7MM he was projected to earn by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.

Trumbo ($5.85MM) and the Diamondbacks ($3.4MM) had by far the largest relative split in filing numbers among cases involving a $4.5MM or greater player demand. Yet Arizona was able to bridge that gap with its prize off-season acquisition, giving the slugger a bit more than the $4.625MM midpoint between the sides' numbers. The 28-year-old will make a hefty salary for his first trip through arbitration, yet another reminder that home runs pay in that setting. (Trumbo has averaged over 30 long balls per year over his three full-time MLB seasons.)


Trade Talks For Jose Lobaton Heating Up

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (via Twitter) that trade talks for Rays catcher Jose Lobaton have begun to heat up. Topkin notes that teams with interest or need at the position include the Diamondbacks, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Mets and Nationals.

The 29-year-old Lobaton slashed a solid .249/.320/.394 with seven homers for the Rays in 2013 and also belted one of the most dramatic and improbable home runs of the postseason. A switch-hitter, Lobaton has historically been better from the right side of the dish than the left, but he bucked that trend and swung the bat better as a lefty (.736 OPS) than as a righty (.653) in 2013.

While Lobaton is a solid, controllable bat — he is a Super Two player that is not eligible for free agency until the 2017-18 offseason — at a thin position, he also comes with some defensive question marks. Lobaton has caught just 16 percent of attempted base stealers in his career and was below average at blocking pitches in the dirt in 2013 (per Fangraphs). While he's not a poor pitch-framer, he also doesn't add significant value in that department, either (per Matthew Carruth's work at StatCorner).

Lobaton has been connected to the White Sox and Nationals in trade talks so far this offseason, with the Nats being the most recently linked club. A trade would seem to be beneficial for both Lobaton and the Rays; the Rays acquired and extended Ryan Hanigan this offseason in addition to re-signing Jose Molina, leaving Lobaton without a clear path to playing time. Additionally, a trade would save the Rays a bit of cash, as Lobaton avoided arbitration by agreeing to a $900K salary for 2014.


Diamondbacks, Gerardo Parra Avoid Arbitration

The Diamondbacks and outfielder Gerardo Parra have sidestepped an arbitration hearing by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $4.85MM, according to the Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro (on Twitter). Parra is a client of Relativity Baseball (formerly known as SFX).

Parra and the D-Backs exchanged arb figures back in January, with Parra asking for a $5.2MM salary and the club countering with a $4.3MM figure. Parra's $4.85MM guarantee is $100K north of the $4.75MM midpoint between the two figures. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz had projected the defensive wizard to earn $4.2MM this offseason.

The 26-year-old Parra batted .268/.323/.403 with 10 homers and 10 stolen bases (in an unsightly 20 attempts) for the Diamondbacks in 2013. Though his stolen base efficiency left something to be desired, Parra cut his strikeout rate to a career-low 15.2 percent and played some of the best outfield defense in all of Major League Baseball. Parra appeared at all three outfield positions, and UZR/150 valued his defense at a sky-high +29.5 runs. The Fielding Bible's Defensive Runs Saved metric pegged Parra for a ridiculous +41 runs, essentially making him the outfield equivalent of Andrelton Simmons. The oustanding defense is reflected in his Wins Above Replacement totals, as despite a roughly league-average season with the bat, Baseball-Reference pegged him at 6.1 WAR while Fangraphs valued him at 4.6 WAR.

With Parra's case now resolved, Mark Trumbo is the only remaining Diamondbacks player who has not yet agreed to a 2014 salary, as can be seen in MLBTR's Arbitration Tracker.


Diamondbacks Extend Kevin Towers, Kirk Gibson

The Diamondbacks announced (on Twitter) that they have agreed to terms on extensions with general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson that will keep them under contract beyond the 2014 season. Arizona declined its 2015 options on Towers and Gibson following the 2013 season, MLB.com's Steve Gilbert notes, but ownership never had much doubt in the pair.

"We’re very happy with both of them," president and CEO Derrick Hall told Gilbert at the time of the option decision. "They’re under contract and they can still be extended. It’s not a big deal. We’re all on the same page." Managing partner Ken Kendrick offered similar sentiments: "I’m comfortable with those guys. I think it’s important for them to go out and prove themselves once again. I hope and believe they’re going to be long-term Diamondback people."

Gibson took over as the D-Backs' manager midway through the 2010 season and has posted a 290-279 record since that time. He's led the Snakes to an NL West division championship (2011) in that time and also finished runner-up to the Dodgers in 2013. Gibson was named National League Manager of the Year in his first full season at the helm in 2011.

Towers was hired as the D-Backs' full-time general manager in September 2010, replacing interim GM Jerry Dipoto (who is now GM of the Angels). Towers has more experience than nearly any general manager in baseball, as he served as GM of the Padres from 1995 to 2009. His moves since taking the reins in Arizona can be viewed in MLBTR's Transaction Tracker.

Some of the more notable deals include his trade of Justin Upton (along with Chris Johnson for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Zeke Spruill and Brandon Drury), his trade for Aaron Hill (in exchange for Kelly Johnson) and subsequent extension and his trade for Trevor Cahill and Craig Breslow (in exchange for Jarrod Parker, Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill). In addition to Hill, Towers has also extended Paul Goldschmidt (five years, $32MM), Prado (four years, $40MM) and Miguel Montero (five years, $60MM). This offseason's most notable move came at the Winter Meetings when he landed Mark Trumbo in a three-team trade that sent Adam Eaton to the White Sox and Tyler Skaggs to the Angels.


Diamondbacks Making One More Run At Free Agents

Diamondbacks pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training in just three days, but the team will make one last run at the free agent market, writes MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Among the free agents they're interested is right-hander Bronson Arroyo, team president Derrick Hall confirmed to Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic. However, the team is interested in a two-year deal for the veteran righty, Hall told Buchanan (Twitter links), which may not be enough to entice Arroyo.

"We owe it to ourselves to at least see what the remaining free agents are looking for," Hall told Gilbert. Presumably, the Diamondbacks are set in terms of starting position players with Miguel Montero at catcher, Paul Goldschmidt at first base, Aaron Hill at second base, Chris Owings or Didi Gregorius at shortstop, Martin Prado at third base and some combination of Mark Trumbo, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock and Cody Ross in the outfield. They could theoretically use more stability at shortstop, but a run at Stephen Drew doesn't seem likely after his previous tenure in Arizona ended poorly.

Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, A.J. Burnett and Arroyo are the consensus top arms on the market, and Gilbert reminds that GM Kevin Towers said at the Winter Meetings he wasn't planning on offering more than three years to any starting pitcher other than Masahiro Tanaka. Some have speculated that the smaller-than-anticipated payday for Matt Garza could knock down the price tags on Garza and Jimenez, though I personally don't expect their demands to drop below four years. Korean right-hander Suk-Min Yoon seems likely to fall into the Diamondbacks' price range, but they aren't one of the five teams said to be currently pursuing him as of this morning. The D-Backs are reportedly interested in Burnett but don't feel he will pitch on the West coast.


Minor Moves: Cesar Carrillo

Here are Sunday's minor moves from around MLB: