12/02/08 10:00 AM EST
Meetings could be quiet for D-backs
Club likely won't pull off any blockbuster deals in Las Vegas
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
This year, Arizona will likely be pretty quiet at the Winter Meetings, which which take place on Dec. 8-11 at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
"Last year we felt like we had the wherewithal to get a starting pitcher that we could have for a number of years at a fair price," Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes said. "That took up a lot of our Winter Meetings last year."
The D-backs' target this year is a second baseman to replace Orlando Hudson, who is expected to depart via free agency.
"We've explored a lot of different possibilities at second base," Byrnes said. "We'll see where it ends up."
The D-backs offered free-agent infielder Ramon Vazquez a one-year contract with a club option for 2010, but Vazquez's agent, Melvin Roman, said he told the D-backs that his client had received an offer for more money from another club.
"[The D-backs] said they would get back to us with something else and that's what we're waiting on right now," Roman said.
Vazquez, 32, has been one of the club's top targets after he hit .290 with a .365 on-base percentage for the Rangers last season. His OPS (a weighted measure of on-base percentage plus slugging) was 111 last year, which means according to that statistic, he was 11 percent better than the league average at the plate.
Vazquez told the Texas media in September that he wanted a multi-year contract and that is still his desire.
"That would be a priority for us," Roman said.
The D-backs could get some face-to-face negotiating time with Roman during the meetings as well as with the agents for infielders Mark Loretta and Damion Easley.
The club is looking at the pair as a right-handed complement to Vazquez, who has struggled against left-handers.
The D-backs have a couple of contracts they would like to move and may talk about that in Las Vegas. Outfielder Eric Byrnes will be entering the second year of a three-year, $30 million deal, while infielder Chad Tracy, who is slated to make $4.75 million in 2009 with a club option at $7 million in 2010 that includes a $1 million buyout.
Moving either of the contracts would give the D-backs a little more money to spend. They were unable to offer free-agent pitcher Randy Johnson more than $3 million and they have less than $10 million to spend overall this winter.
Complicating any attempt to move Byrnes or Tracy is the fact that both had their performances affected by health issues last year and teams may be leery of trading for them before seeing them this spring.
Byrnes injured his hamstring just before the start of Spring Training and eventually shut down his season in July.
Tracy, meanwhile, had microfracture surgery on his right knee in 2007 and was still recovering as the 2008 season went along. He said near the end of the year that he hoped a full offseason of workouts would get him back to 100 percent in 2009.
One player who has drawn some interest this winter is catcher Miguel Montero, but the D-backs have not been able to find a suitable match. While the club is not looking to get rid of Montero, they appear open to trading the left-handed hitter, because of the presence of Chris Snyder behind the plate.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.