The Diamondbacks are motivated to swing a trade for an ace-caliber pitcher, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Crasnick spoke with Arizona GM Kevin Towers, president/CEO Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick in an excellent, in-depth breakdown of the situation. While Towers was quick to say that no player is untouchable, he sounded loath to part with prized pitching prospect Archie Bradley, a consensus Top 10 MLB prospect. Asked about the possiblity of trading Bradley, he replied: “I don’t see that happening. Not that anybody is untouchable, but we’re hoping he’s our David Price, and we can control him [for several years]. He’s gonna get every opportunity to crack our rotation this spring … He’s not looking to make our rotation as the fifth guy — he’s looking to make it as the ace.” Hall pointed to the Diamondbacks’ success in 2011 when Ian Kennedy finished fourth in the Cy Young race, noting how impactful having a “No. 1 type starter” was to that year’s team. Hall expects activity to pick up: “We’re getting a lot of calls and making a lot of calls, and we can see the interest is there. We’re probably a good fit for a lot of clubs.” In addition to enviable pitching depth, the Diamondbacks also have several intriguing shortstops in the form of Didi Gregorius, Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed
When he makes his second trip of the offseason to Florida next week for the annual Winter Meetings, general manager Kevin Towers will have a pretty good idea about which teams are good matches for his when it comes to making trades.
The Phillies are set to sign catcher Wil Nieves, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (on Twitter). Nieves is represented by MDR Sports Management, as shown in the MLBTR Agency Database. Nieves, 36, hit .297/.320/.369 in 206 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks last season. Arizona retained the veteran with a one-year, $800K deal right around this time last year. For his career, Nieves owns a .242/.283/.314 across ten big league seasons.
Earlier today, the Diamondbacks completed a three-team deal with the Rays and Reds which saw Tampa Bay acquire catcher Ryan Hanigan from the Reds and Heath Bell from Arizona. The D’Backs didn’t get big time talent back in the trade, but they unloaded $5.5MM of the $6MM they owed to Bell in 2014. I asked Towers what he might do with his newfound financial flexibility. “We still got some bench pieces that we need to put together, we still have interest in bringing back Eric Chavez as a guy who was a key bench player on the club last year. We also want to add depth to our starting pitching, a No. 1 or a No. 2 [type], that would probably come via trade. We have some free agents [that we like], but we’ll probably be more aggressive on the trade front. Also, with Cody Ross coming back from the hip injury, we’ll also look into a corner outfield bat,” Towers said on this afternoon’s conference call
The Rays, Reds and Diamondbacks successfully completed a three-team trade today, the teams have announced. Tampa Bay acquired catcher Ryan Hanigan (and promptly extended him) from the Reds and Heath Bell (pictured) from the Diamondbacks. The Reds will receive left-handed pitching prospect David Holmberg from the Diamondbacks. Arizona, meanwhile, was able to shed all but $500K of Bell’s salary and will receive minor league righty Justin Choate as well as a player to be named later or cash from the Rays. It was expected that Cincinnati would move Hanigan since they agreed to a two-year deal with Brayan Pena. The 33-year-old had the worst season of his career in 2013, batting just .198/.306/.261 and tying a career-low with two home runs. Hanigan will give the Rays three catchers with Jose Lobaton and Jose Molina already in the fold if Lobaton is not one of the outgoing players. Molina is staying in Tampa Bay after agreeing to come back on a two-year, $4.5MM deal last month. Hanigan has long been known as a patient hitter that is tough to strike out, as evidenced by a career 12 percent walk rate and 10.1 percent strikeout rate.
1:54pm: The Diamondbacks will receive minor league lefty Justin Choate from the Rays along with a PTBNL or cash in the deal, tweets MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert. 1:48pm: Bell is headed to the Rays, he tells Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). 1:44pm: Piecoro tweets that left-hander David Holmberg is part of the deal. Rosenthal tweets that the Reds will acquire Holmberg. 1:41pm: Piecoro adds that in order to shed the remainder of Bell’s contract, the Diamondbacks are giving up something of value instead of taking on another bad contract (Twitter link). 1:32pm: Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweets that Heath Bell appears to be involved in the trade, though he’s not sure which team would be acquiring the right-hander. 1:11pm: The Diamondbacks are the third team in the trade, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, though he’s not sure of the other players involved yet (Twitter link).
The D-backs tendered contracts to right-handers Josh Collmenter and Brad Ziegler, lefty Joe Thatcher and outfielder Gerardo Parra before Monday night’s deadline, but did not tender one to injured pitcher Daniel Hudson.
The Diamondbacks will non-tender starter Daniel Hudson, tweets Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca. Though the sides had attempted to work out a deal to keep Hudson in Arizona, he will hit the open market. Hudson likely would not have been a non-tender candidate were it not for his injury struggles. The righty is working back from his second Tommy John surgery at 26 years of age, but was projected to earn a $1.1MM salary through arbitration due to his strong early-career performance. Though he had an ugly 7.35 ERA in 2012, that came over just nine starts; in the prior year, his only full season of MLB work, he posted a 3.49 ERA in 222 innings. As Nicholson-Smith notes, however, there is still reason to believe that the sides can come together. Indeed, both Hudson and the Diamondbacks have indicated a strong interest in a reunion, though he figures to garner some interest from clubs who would like to take a chance on his upside
The Diamondbacks announced that they’ve hired Mike Harkey as their pitching coach and named Mel Stottlemyre Jr. bullpen coach. The 47-year-old Harkey has been coaching for 14 seasons, the past six of which have come with the Yankees on Joe Girardi’s staff. Stottlemyre, 49, served as the D-Backs’s pitching coach from 2009-10 and has served as the minor league pitching coordinator since. Here’s more of the the NL West… Peter Gammons of the MLB Network reports that the earliest the Padres would consider trading Chase Headley is next June. The team doesn’t want to sell low on Headley coming off a season in which his OPS+ dropped by more than 30 points
The Mariners have reached an agreement with infielder Willie Bloomquist on a two-year deal in the $5-6MM range, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Bloomquist, a client of Scott Boras, batted .317/.360/.367 without a homer or stolen base in 139 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks in 2013. Bloomquist has spent the past three seasons in Arizona, batting a combined .289/.328/.368 with four homers — all of which came back in 2011. The 36-year-old served as a Swiss army knife for manager Kirk Gibson, playing shortstop, second base, third base, left field and right field in his time with the D-Backs. This contract is a homecoming Bloomquist in multiple ways. Bloomquist is a Washington native and also spent the first seven seasons of his big league career in Seattle after being selected by the M’s in the third round of the 1999 draft. Jon Heyman of CBS Sports first reported that the two sides were close to a deal (on Twitter), and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic was the first to report Bloomquist would earn $5-6MM (also via Twitter).