Josh Byrnes Rumors

D’Backs Meeting To Consider Major Moves

The D’Backs will consider trading anyone but Justin Upton and Ian Kennedy, as they evaluate the best way to turn the team around, according to Jon Heyman of Heyman hears that owner Ken Kendrick, president Derrick Hall and GM Josh Byrnes are in the midst of meetings to determine the best course of action for the 24-37 team. Last week, Hall told the Arizona Republic that he was open to changes given the club’s disappointing start.

Upton and Kennedy will not be dealt, and Mark Reynolds is likely to stay, but the D’Backs would consider moving others. They would listen on Dan Haren, though the club might prefer to keep him if they believe they can contend in the near future. Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson are possible trade candidates for GM Josh Byrnes, who admits he has to consider trades.

Byrnes has been fighting hard to keep manager A.J. Hinch around, according to Heyman. Hinch, who had never managed before taking over the club last year, does not make a seven-figure salary, so the D’Backs could fire him without having to absorb too much money. And the man who hired Hinch? Heyman reports that no one realistically expects Byrnes to be in the line of fire.

GM Initiation: Josh Byrnes

We're kicking off a new series here at MLBTR called GM Initiation.  Each post in the series will look at a general manager's first trade.

Josh Byrnes was hired as Diamondbacks GM on October 28th, 2005.  His first deal came on December 7th at the Winter Meetings.  Byrnes and Braves GM John Schuerholz agreed on a deal to send catcher Johnny Estrada to Arizona for relievers Oscar Villarreal and Lance Cormier.  Estrada went on to have a solid '06 campaign for the D'Backs and was used in a trade to acquire Doug Davis after the season.  Both relievers pitched two seasons for Atlanta, with Villarreal posting better numbers.

Byrnes was kind enough to answer a few questions about his first trade.

MLB Trade Rumors: 2005 marked your first Winter Meetings as a general manager.  How would you describe the experience?

Josh Byrnes: The 2005 Winter Meetings were busy. We were exploring many trades to reshape the roster. It was our first time together as a larger group in that type of setting.

MLBTR: Did you enter the '05 Meetings intent on acquiring a starting catcher?  About how many different catchers were you seriously considering?

Byrnes: We were trying to improve in the middle of the field. Later that month, we acquired Orlando Hudson, Eric Byrnes and Chris Young. Estrada was the catcher who made the most sense at the time.

MLBTR: What kind of relationship did you have with Braves GM John Schuerholz prior to the Estrada deal?  How long did it take to put the trade together?

Byrnes: I knew John a little bit. The trade came together fairly quickly. We had a few discussions at the meetings and agreed after a few conversations.

MLBTR: Does the Estrada trade hold significance for you, since it was your first acquisition?  Is the significance diminished because you were such an active trader that month?

Byrnes: I said at the time that the deal carried some significance to me because we did it with John. Certainly, he is one the best (if not the best) GM’s of all time. He is also very passionate about the game and the industry, so it is memorable to have made my first trade with John.

Odds & Ends: Blue Jays, Gomes, Lincecum

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GM Trade Histories: NL West

Today Brendan Bianowicz updates the GM Trade History series for the NL West.  You can download the info-packed Excel spreadsheets below.

Diamondbacks Rumors: Webb, Byrnes

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic spoke to General Managing Partner Ken Kendrick of the Arizona Diamondbacks about the team's future. Here are a few of the highlights:

  • The team has "every intention" of exercising Brandon Webb's $8.5MM option.
  • Like GM Josh Byrnes said earlier in the week, there's no guarantee the team will hang on to outfielder Eric Byrnes just because of his bloated contract. Kendrick said the deal "looks like a mistake."
  • The payroll for 2010 should be in the $75MM-$79MM range, after the team spent $73MM in 2009.
  • Josh Byrnes could then have up to $20MM to address the team's needs in the offseason. Piecoro suggests that might mean looking at "the bullpen, a vacancy in the rotation, and perhaps…a veteran position player."
  • Kendrick sees the bullpen as the main priority when adding new talent this winter.

Diamondbacks Rumors: Byrnes, Lugo, Davis

Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic says a team source indicated that the Diamondbacks could revisit the idea of an Eric Byrnes-Julio Lugo swap now that Lugo's been designated for assignment. Byrnes is currently on the disabled list with a broken hand. The two teams had discussions about such a swap in the offseason, but the talks went nowhere.

Meanwhile, lefthander Doug Davis says he senses "they might come after me for an extension" according to Piecoro. Davis said they're not ready to starting talking terms, but GM Josh Byrnes confirms the talks. Davis' agent Steve Canter decined to talk about specifics according to's Steve Gilbert, but he did say Davis is "player of interest to the organization."

Davis' name has popped up in trade rumors the past few weeks.

Josh Byrnes Q&A

Recently MLB Trade Rumors had the privilege of asking a few questions of Diamondbacks GM Josh Byrnes.  Byrnes has been at the helm since October of '05, making it to the NLCS in '07.

MLB Trade Rumors: Many players signed for less money or fewer years than expected this winter.  Do you anticipate an even more drastic decline in free agent spending around the game for the non-superstar players in the 2009-10 offseason?

Josh Byrnes: In spite of the economic conditions, the industry spent over $1 billion on free agents this off-season and 17 of 30 clubs increased their payrolls. Given the abnormally small rate of inflation (and a good class of free agents), it felt like a very tight squeeze. Certain players probably signed for a lot less than what they have been offered in the months/years preceding their final decision. In a tight economic setting, the stars seem to do better than the good (but not irreplaceable) players.

MLBTR: You were criticized by some for not offering arbitration to Adam Dunn in December, but it turned out to be the right move.  How were you able to predict where the market was headed?

Byrnes: Obviously, we considered that particular decision very carefully. It was difficult – especially because the premise of the August trade was based upon draft pick compensation. As we moved toward December 1st, we weighed the risk and reward of offering Dunn arbitration, and we decided that the risk was too great.

MLBTR: Do you have the payroll flexibility to make another Dunn-like acquisition this summer, if the need arises?

Byrnes: We’ll see. Ownership has been very supportive of any responsible expenditure that can help us compete. These are challenging economic times, and we will have to monitor our competitive state and our revenues.

 MLBTR: You've talked about the danger of having players with their meters running regarding playing time incentives, and expressed a preference for health-based incentives if any.  Do you think health-based incentives carry a similar risk, with a player perhaps unwilling to disclose an injury or go on the DL because it would affect his paycheck?

Byrnes: The non-disclosure of an injury could happen (I suppose), but that is pretty self-defeating for the player. Our fundamental rejection of bonuses centers on two main points: (1) we want to know what our team costs, and (2) we do not want provisions in contracts to be a daily source of angst in our clubhouse.

MLBTR: What is your stance on player opt-outs in free agent contracts?  Would you ever allow that?

Byrnes: As a rule of thumb, I would be hesitant to put an opt-out into a contract. We do have a Mutual Option in our Jon Garland contract. To the extent we are able to negotiate Club Options (the reverse of the opt-out concept), we usually provide extra guaranteed money in the form of a buyout to potentially compensate the player for our right to make a choice.

MLBTR: Is there any concern about the team's strikeout total last year, or do you view strikeouts as pretty much the same as other outs?

Byrnes: To some extent, strikeouts are like other outs. But on a young team with many RHH, it can be indicative of our needed growth. Ideally, we want hitters who are tough outs and who are dangerous. If enough walks and homers accompany the strikeouts, the tradeoff can work. Our young hitters have faced some elite pitching in our division over the last two seasons. Now, we need to start applying those lessons.

MLBTR: How do you decide how many innings you'll allow a guy like Max Scherzer to throw, since he's never topped 109 in a season?  If he's healthy and the team is in a pennant race would you be comfortable taking him to 200 innings?

Byrnes: Including the Arizona Fall League and instructional league, Scherzer threw around 140 innings last year. We will try to moderate his innings throughout the season and shoot for a range closer to 170 innings.

MLBTR: Have the D'Backs built something similar to the Diamondview database you worked with in Cleveland?

Byrnes: We have not. The Indians actually developed their product after my departure (we had just started to integrate IT into Baseball Ops as I was leaving). With the volume of information at our disposal and the necessary speed of business, we are constantly trying to ramp up our technical tools. The progression from concept to implementation is not an easy one.

D-Backs Hope To Avoid Arb With Conor Jackson’s Steve Gilbert reports that the Diamondbacks are working hard to avoid an arbitration hearing with left fielder Conor Jackson.

The D-Backs haven’t required a hearing since Josh Byrnes took over as general manager in 2005.  Jackson asked for $3.65MM and the club countered with $2.45MM back when figures were filed.  The 26-year-old hit .300/.376/.446 in ’08 with 12 home runs and 75 RBI.  He is Arizona’s last unsigned arbitration-eligible player.

D-backs GM, CEO Unlikely To Leave

Despite former CEO Jeff Moorad leaving the Arizona Diamondbacks for San Diego Padres ownership, two of his trusted colleagues will likely not follow him.

Current Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall and general manager Josh Byrnes have small ownership stakes in the Arizona franchise. That will likely keep the duo in place, The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports.

Hall and Byrnes each received contracts that run through 2015. Moorad negotiated both deals, Piecoro added.

Odds and Ends: Tazawa, Boras, Cuban

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