PHOENIX — The Diamondbacks control Gerardo Parra for two more years through arbitration, but they are interested in extending their commitment.
General manager Kevin Towers liked Parra enough to offer him a multi-year contract last winter, and Parra has been even better this season, playing a Gold Glove-caliber right field. If a long-term deal does not get done, it will not be for a lack of trying.
“We kind of went through the exercise last winter. I imagine we would be open to it again,” D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.
“What he does defensively, he probably wins you three or four games a year with his glove and his arm. But it takes two to tango any time you are talking about contracts.”
Towers also said it is possible that D-backs could make a multi-year offer to Brad Ziegler, who has one year of arbitration eligibility remaining. Ziegler has 10 saves since assuming the closer’s role the weekend before the All-Star Game.
“He’s pitched well. He’s pitched well since he’s been here, in lot of different roles,” Towers said. “When he comes in a ballgame, I feel pretty confident, whether it is the seventh, eighth or ninth.”
Most of the other Diamondbacks are under contract or control for 2014.
As he did last winter, Parra said he would glad to consider any D-backs offer.
“I love it here,” Parra said. “I don’t want to listen now. I don’t want to be talking about that when I play. After the season, maybe. It would be something good. I just want to play baseball and finish strong.”
Ziegler, 33, has made 71 appearances, tied for sixth in the National League, and is 8-1 with a 2.40 ERA. He made 77 appearances last season, mostly in the seventh and eighth innings, before filling a need at the back of the bullpen this year after injuries and ineffectiveness forced a change. He also said he would listen to a long-term offer.
“I want to be on a winning team, and whatever I can do to help the team win, you are never going to find me complaining about my role on the team,” Ziegler said.
Parra, 26, is hitting .267 with 37 doubles, 10 home runs and 44 RBI in his first full season as a regular after playing a lot but not every day in his first three seasons with the D-backs. Parra is tied with MVP candidate Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates for fourth in the NL in doubles, but those who have seen Parra play understand that offense is only part of his value.
Parra leads the major leagues with 16 outfield assists, also a Diamondbacks franchise record. He would have more, but opponents seemingly have learned to play station-to-station on balls hit to right.
“I don’t know who is better than him in the outfield, certainly on the corner there,” D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said. “I don’t even know you quantify what he does for us out there. He shuts people down with what he does out there. Guys run on him and they pay the price. It’s good for us. His arm is such a weapon.
“Offensively, he’s getting better. I think there is a lot left in his tank there. I think he can impact the ball more. I think he can pull the ball more. He can hit more doubles. He can hit the ball out of the park more. There is just more in his tank. He’s kind of right on the edge there.”
As a quasi-regular in previous years, Parra did not start against all left-handed starters. He also occasionally left for a pinch hitter. This year, he has faced all the lefties, and it has been a struggle at times. He is hitting .206 with three RBI in 165 at-bats against southpaws.
“That is something he has to improve on, but we’ve had a lot of conversations about that, how we can get him to next level,” Gibson said. “Part of it is, how do you get better at it? You do it, you get frustrated, you say, ‘I need to change this. I’m willing to change this.’ That is part of the process. You have to learn how to make an adjustment to be a little better than that, and I think he can do it.
“When you take him out, you are taking him out of right field. That’s the way I look at it. And when you are playing in the tight games like we are playing, he’s dominating. He’s a stopper. He influences a game in a different way. So don’t just look at it as he doesn’t hit lefties well.”