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12/11/08 3:46 PM EST

D-backs fill hole, plant seeds in Vegas

Lopez signed to play second base; team still wants lefty relievers

LAS VEGAS -- The D-backs' front-office contingent left the Bellagio with a second baseman all but in the fold when the Winter Meetings broke up on Thursday.

Arizona agreed to terms with infielder Felipe Lopez on a one-year deal worth $3.5 million, pending a physical that is expected to take place on Friday.

While they snagged Lopez, the D-backs learned that they were out of the running for left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes, who signed a two-year deal with the Reds.

"He let us know that we probably weren't going to be the team," assistant general manager Peter Woodfork said. "We discussed with him, we discussed with others and we'll continue to discuss with left-handed relievers and see what works out."

The D-backs have spoken with a number of lefty relievers and will continue to do so as the market sorts itself out.

"A left-handed reliever is something in the mix," Woodfork said. "Are we going to find our guy from the free-agent market? I don't know. Are we going to find him from a trade? I don't know. Those are all options for us. If we go into the season with five good [right-handed relievers] that can get left-handers out, we won't have to add another lefty."

If they do land another reliever, the groundwork they laid during the Meetings will likely be the reason. Last year, they left the meetings in Nashville essentially empty-handed, yet they had set in motion talks that resulted in them swinging two major trades, including the one that got them Dan Haren less than two weeks later.

"It's small steps," Woodfork said. "You're building blocks to get things done. We work hard. It's a long four days. Everyone is up late. It takes a lot of discussions to get something large done or something small done. That's the Winter Meetings. You bring a lot of your people in to have discussions with teams, agents, the media."

The D-backs also made an offer to infielder Mark Loretta during the meeting's first day, but Loretta chose instead to sign with the Dodgers.

Deals done: Agreed to terms with Lopez on a one-year $3.5 million deal pending a physical; signed infielder Augie Ojeda to a one-year contract for $712,500.

Rule 5 activity: The D-backs selected catcher James Skelton from the Tigers' organization. The club's initial plan is to carry him as a third catcher as they think he is a young player with tools that can develop. Arizona did not lose a player in either the Major or Minor League phases of the Draft.

Goals accomplished: They filled their biggest hole -- second base -- provided Lopez passes his physical. Second was the top priority for the organization with Orlando Hudson's expected departure in free agency. The D-backs also shored up their backup infielder spot with Ojeda and got a good feel for what the market is for left-handed relievers.

Unfinished business: The D-backs would still like to add a left-handed reliever while adding bullpen depth or another starting pitcher will only come if they can get a bargain towards the end of the winter.

GM's bottom line: "I think we feel like it's been productive here," Josh Byrnes said. "There's a lot of preparation and sometimes medical things that need to be evaluated before you can conclude [a deal]. There were a lot of things going on that might lead to something that is announced down the road."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.