D-backs bringing shopping list to Winter Meetings
Club interested in top-level starter, corner outfielder, bench reinforcements
PHOENIX -- The D-backs freed up some payroll earlier this week by dealing reliever Heath Bell and we could find out as soon as next week's Winter Meetings how they intend to spend it.
The annual Meetings, held this year in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., will run from Monday through Thursday morning.
D-backs general manager Kevin Towers is nicknamed "The Gunslinger" for his willingness to make big deals, and Arizona is aiming high when it comes to filling its needs for 2014.
Here's a quick glance at the D-backs' situation heading into the Meetings:
Starting rotation: As it stands right now, the rotation includes Patrick Corbin, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy and Randall Delgado. The D-backs have depth for the back end with young hurlers Tyler Skaggs, Charles Brewer, Zeke Spruill, Bo Schultz and Alex Sanabia, so if they do add a starter, they are looking to add a No. 1 or No. 2 type. They have interest in the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija, but have deemed Chicago's asking price too high so far. The Rays' David Price is another pitcher the D-backs have discussed. Towers has said help in this area is more likely to come via trade rather than the free-agent market.
Corner outfielder: After dealing outfielder Justin Upton last offseason, the D-backs are looking to add power to their outfield mix. Again, they appear to be aiming high as Ken Rosenthal recently reported the D-backs discussed a deal with the A's for slugger Yoenis Cespedes. A tier or so down from Cespedes is Cubs outfielder Nate Schierholtz, and they may look at pursuing the Angels' Mark Trumbo. The cost of a free-agent outfielder like Nelson Cruz may prove to be too high for Arizona.
Bench: Towers and manager Kirk Gibson prefer to have an experienced bench and they recently lost Willie Bloomquist to the Mariners via free agency. They also have made an offer to free-agent infielder Eric Chavez, but he is said to be mulling his options. While the D-backs will look to fill their other needs through trades, this is one where they figure to see what they can find on the open market.
Who they can trade if necessary
Left-hander Skaggs: The D-backs at one point had Skaggs ranked as their top pitching prospect, but it seems over the past two years they have cooled on him somewhat. They now appear willing to deal him, but his value may not be what it was two years ago.
Outfielder A.J. Pollock: Pollock could be the odd man out in the outfield shuffle depending on whether the D-backs are able to acquire a slugger. Pollock is an outstanding defensive outfielder and has shown some pop at the plate. The D-backs seem to prefer Adam Eaton over Pollock.
Shortstop Didi Gregorius: The D-backs were very impressed with the play of shortstop prospect Chris Owings during his September callup and that may have vaulted him above Gregorius on the depth chart. Towers has said he would be comfortable bringing both to Spring Training along with veteran Cliff Pennington, but with a dearth of quality shortstops around the game, it would seem the D-backs might want to try to cash in on their depth.
The D-backs' top 10 prospects, per MLB.com, are pitcher Archie Bradley, third baseman Matt Davidson, Owings, pitcher Braden Shipley, Spruill, pitcher Jake Barrett, pitcher Andrew Chafin, catcher Stryker Trahan, pitcher Anthony Meo and third baseman Jake Lamb.
Towers has not been shy about dealing prospects in the past like pitchers Jarrod Parker and Trevor Bauer, but it would be a tremendous shock if Bradley were dealt as he appears to be untouchable at this point.
As for the others, they appear to be fair game if the D-backs can get the right return.
Rule 5 Draft
The D-backs have openings on their 40-man roster if they choose to add someone via the Rule 5 Draft. It will be something the club looks at as the Meetings go on.
Big contracts they might unload
The D-backs took care of this when they traded Bell and saved themselves $6 million for next year. They would like to deal McCarthy and the $9 million he is owed in 2014, but probably will not be able to. There was speculation earlier in the offseason that they might try to trade Cahill, who is owed $20 million over the next two seasons, but they seem to have decided to hang on to him.
The D-backs figure to cross the $100 million payroll mark for the first time since 2002, the year after they won the World Series. Should they do that, they could have $10 million to $15 million to spend.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Inside the D-backs, and follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.