Diamondbacks near 1-year deal with catcher Blanco

By Jack Magruder

The Arizona Diamondbacks are almost done with their pre-holiday shopping.

The D-backs and catcher Henry Blanco have agreed to a one-year, $1 million contract, pending medical exams, and the deal could be announced as early as Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Xavier Nady and Austin Kearns appear to be their top targets for their final piece, a right-handed-hitting outfielder, according to sources familiar with their thinking.

At the winter meetings, general manager Kevin Towers identified those positions as his remaining needs.

The D-backs’ principal left field candidates at this point are Gerardo Parra and Brandon Allen, both left-handed hitters. With starters Stephen Drew, Kelly Johnson and Miguel Montero, the D-backs’ lineup skews left.

Blanco, who played with San Diego in 2009 when Towers was the general manager, will serve as a right-handed-hitting backup to Montero, who could play as many as 120-130 games if he remains healthy.

Blanco, 39, is a career .227 hitter known more for his arm, his defense and ability to handle a pitching staff. He threw out 50 percent (11 of 22) of the runners attempting to steal on him in 46 games with the New York Mets last season, and was at 40 percent in his season with San Diego. His career rate, 43 percent, is among the best in the game.

Nady, originally selected by Towers in the second round of the 2000 draft, had 20-homer seasons with Pittsburgh in 2007 and Pittsburgh and the New York Yankees in 2008 before missing almost all of 2009 after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Nady, 32, also has played 124 games at first base and would give the D-backs another option there behind Juan Miranda and Allen. Nady hit .256 with six homers and 33 RBI in 119 games with the Chicago Cubs last season, when he started 48 games at first and 26 in the outfield.

Kearns, the seventh player taken in the 1998 draft by Cincinnati, is strictly an outfielder. He split time with Cleveland and the Yankees last season, his first in the AL, hitting .263 with 10 homers and 49 RBI. He broke in with Cincinnati in 2002 at age 22 and spent his first eight seasons in the NL. In 2006, he hit 24 homers and drove in 86 runs for Cincinnati and Washington. His last season as a regular was in 2007, when he hit. 266 with 35 doubles, 16 homers and 74 RBI.

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