12/04/08 11:00 AM EST
D-backs still seeking second baseman
Team enters Winter Meetings needing help in bullpen
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Second baseman: With Orlando Hudson almost certain to sign elsewhere, the D-backs have a huge hole to fill at second. There are not many internal options other than moving Mark Reynolds from third to second, an option they don't seem particularly inclined to do, or playing Augie Ojeda every day. They made a one-year offer (plus a team option) to infielder Ramon Vazquez, but Vazquez's agent told them they would need to add a little more to it. Vazquez is their top target with the thought being they could pair him with a right-handed hitter like Mark Loretta or Damion Easley.
Whom they can or need to trade
Eric Byrnes: They would be thrilled if someone would take the outfielder off their hands. But with a complete no-trade clause and two years and $22 million left on his contract, that is unlikely. They would still have to pick up most, if not all, of that contract to get a deal done or would have to swap it for another bad contract of say a second baseman.
Chad Tracy: Tracy is under contract for $4.75 million next year with a club option of $7 million for 2010 or a $1 million buyout. Coming off major knee surgery in October 2007, Tracy would need to prove that his right knee would allow him to play third on a regular basis this spring in order to increase his trade value. If they deal him in the offseason for next to nothing, it's an indication of how badly they want to trim payroll.
Miguel Montero: With Chris Snyder getting the bulk of the playing time behind the plate, the D-backs could trade Montero. But as a left-handed catcher with some pop and a low salary, the return they would seek might be more than teams are willing to pay.
Down on the farm
The D-backs do not have the prospects to pull off another Dan Haren-type deal like they did last winter.
Plenty of teams have inquired about young pitchers Max Scherzer and Jarrod Parker, but the D-backs have no plans to deal them. Scherzer is expected to step into the starting rotation in 2009, and Parker, their No. 1 pick in 2007, impressed the club in his first year of pro ball.
As for position players, the system is thin thanks to some trades (Carlos Quentin, Carlos Gonzalez) and promotions (Justin Upton, Chris Young, Mark Reynolds) over the past few seasons.
Big contracts they might unload: Byrnes, Tracy.
Arbitration eligible: Chris Burke, INF; Robby Hammock, C; Conor Jackson, OF; Wil Ledezma, LHP; Augie Ojeda, INF; Tony Pena, RHP; Chad Qualls, RHP; Chris Snyder, C.
Burke, Hammock and Ledezma will probably be non-tendered with Ojeda being a possibility unless they can sign him at a discount.
The D-backs' payroll is complicated in the sense that prior to last offseason the club decided that rather than have a year-to-year budget it was going to give GM Josh Byrnes $240 million to spend over three years. Last year the payroll was around $80 million when you factor in the $8 million or so the D-backs paid to Russ Ortiz.
With Johnson, Ortiz and Hudson coming off the books, it looks like they'll have money to spend, but in reality contract increases to Brandon Webb and Haren, plus all the arbitration guys along with Stephen Drew and Young, will eat up a lot of that.
The bottom line is they have less than $10 million to spend this offseason.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.