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12/06/11 9:00 PM EST
D-backs closing in on deal with Overbay
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
DALLAS -- It was an extremely slow day for the D-backs on Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. Arizona heard back from free-agent first baseman Lyle Overbay on their one-year contract offer, but it wasn't a yes or no. Still, it seems like the deal will get done. "I would say it's progressing well, but it's not done," D-backs GM Kevin Towers said. "Everything looks good, although it's not a done deal. I'm cautiously optimistic. We still have some things that we have to work through that we're still working through, but nothing's really changed. My gut is he'll still end up coming here." Other than Overbay, the D-backs have one focus at the Meetings. "Really it has been starting pitching, starting pitching, starting pitching -- in trade discussions, free agents ... just really focused on starting pitching," Towers said. That includes free agent Hiroki Kuroda. The right-hander has the same agent as Overbay, so it is safe to say that the D-backs discussed Kuroda. A decision by Kuroda is not expected quickly. "There was dialogue, but just dialogue, nothing is imminent on that front," Towers said. "For him, it's a situation of comfort level with the organization, city, quality of life, his family."
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One thing that is imminent, at least within the week, is a decision on left-hander Joe Saunders.Saunders is eligible for salary arbitration, but the D-backs do not want to pay the nearly $9 million he could get through that process. They made a two-year proposal to him Monday, and Saunders' side is believed to have put together a counter offer, but Towers had not seen it as of early Tuesday evening. The D-backs face a Dec. 12 deadline to offer arbitration to Saunders or trade him. If they do neither, he will become a free agent. "No, with 100 percent certainty," Towers said when asked if he had ruled out offering arbitration. "For us, we have to make a decision on Joe. It's they accept our offer or we trade him." The D-backs have had preliminary talks with catcher Miguel Montero on a contract extension. Montero is eligible for salary arbitration this year and free agency following the 2012 season. The D-backs are hoping to avoid an arbitration hearing with him and would love to get a multiyear deal done. "He's a very important part of our club," Towers said. "An important piece to our club like that, I mean, I'm hoping we can avoid [a hearing] at all costs, because I don't think it's a good process. He's a big part of this organization going forward for a lot of obvious reasons. Nice player, great person, represents the organization well, popular player, not only with his teammates but with our fan base, resides in Phoenix now." One thing is for certain, nothing is going to get finalized over the next few days, and as the process wears on, Towers does not plan on commenting much on it. "We continue to have dialogue with him, but we kind of agreed between both parties that, going forward, the less we discuss it, the better," Towers said. "He knows that we have interest in retaining him beyond this year, and I think he has interest in hopefully being able to get something done. Out of respect to Miggy, it's probably not something we'll talk much about in the way of our negotiations. That's the way he'd like it, and that's fine." The D-backs have been linked to free-agent reliever Takashi Saito, and they would like to add a veteran reliever, but again nothing seemed imminent as Towers waits to see how much a veteran starting pitcher is going to cost so he knows what he has left for relief help. "I would say that's not our priority right now, it's more starting pitching," Towers said. "I mean there have been people that have called us about their guys and we've kind of put it on the back burner. We need to find out where we're at with starting pitching and find out what we have left for a veteran reliever."