Winter meetings came and went without major deal, but D-backs continue to listen on Upton, pitchers.
By JACK MAGRUDERFS Arizona
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Have gun, will holster. Nothing in the nickname "Gunslinger" forces you to be quick on the trigger.
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers left Opryland about how he arrived — with assets to move but no overriding reasons to do so. Not that Towers did not try. He was in meetings until 6:30 a.m. Thursday, but nothing materialized.
Towers said there are "more than a couple" of trades he could make now if the other side signed off.
“I would say we are marinating now,” Towers said. “We may sit and kind of wait. Some of these other free-agent signings may change the landscape of how people feel about our players and our trades. That’s kind of where we are at.”
The D-backs were in an enviable position as they left the winter meetings Thursday after adding free-agent reserves Eric Chavez, Eric Hinske and Wil Nieves as bench components. Justin Upton has become more valuable because of all the money spent on free-agent outfielders over the past few days, and the biggest domino — Josh Hamilton — has yet to fall. Too, the D-backs’ excess of top pitching prospects gives them additional trading chips to offer small-market teams such as Cleveland and Tampa Bay that might look to add youth.
A FOXSports.com report Thursday morning indicated that the Indians had fallen out of a potential four-team deal that also included Texas and Tampa Bay, but that does not mean the D-backs could not include Upton in the bigger package and also send pitching to Cleveland for shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera, rumored to be the D-backs' target in the four-team trade.
Rangers reportedly covet Upton. At the same time, the D-backs seem extremely unlikely to move off their position to acquire either top prospect Jurickson Profar or veteran Elvis Andrus to fill their hole at shortstop. Profar is their first choice, sources said, because he is controllable for six years, but the Rangers have given no indication they will even consider moving him. Cabrera and Andrus have only two years of control remaining, not the D-backs’ ideal scenario.
Complicating matters is the Rangers’ pursuit of free agent right-hander Zack Greinke, who also is said to be the top choice of the cash-rich Dodgers. Angels general manager Jerry Dipoto told the media Wednesday night that his team was out because the price was too high.
Greinke’s wife is a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, although it is unclear how much of a factor that is in his final destination. If the Rangers do not land him, they could spend the majority of their free-agent dollars on Hamilton. Seattle, meanwhile, is said to be in hot pursuit of Hamilton, although Hamilton has said he will give Texas a final shot.
“I can’t speak for the other clubs involved, but I would imagine that probably impacts what they do or how aggressive they get. That’s why we’re in no rush,” Towers said of the landing point of the big free agents.
“I think what I’ve noticed in the last 12 months is really the value that people put on the prospect because of where the free-agent market is heading. People don’t want to lose their prospects. They value their prospects. It’s cost control. Unless it’s major league player for major league player, in this winter meetings or even at the GM meetings, how many prospect deals have we seen?”
Even if the D-backs can move Upton, they still could send pitching prospects to the Indians in a separate, lesser deal for Cabrera. Cleveland has asked about Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin.
With the meetings at an end, the D-backs expect a cooling-off period for the next few days, although recent history indicates a deal could come quickly. They discussed the parameters of the Trevor Cahill trade with Oakland at the winter meetings last year but did not make the deal until the day after returning home.
“I think things could change,” Towers said. "We’re in no huge rush. I would say there’s probably nothing that close to where we’re going to pull the trigger in the next 48 hours. At least in these meetings, we had a chance to at least engage with clubs that we had targeted as having the best matches, either directly or indirectly."
The D-backs are satisfied with what they were able to accomplish in Nashville. Free-agent acquisitions Chavez and Hinske both hit left-handed with some pop, both play the corner infield spots and both bring credentials as strong clubhouse guys. Nieves is a similar type of reserve, one who understands his role. The D-backs believe starting catcher Miguel Montero will play about 135 to 140 games.