The Diamondbacks used their short window of negotiating exclusivity to re-sign free agents shortstop John McDonald and catcher Henry Blanco, two supplemental but valuable pieces of their 2011 NL West-winning team.
McDonald signed a two-year, $3 million contract while Blanco signed a one-year, $1.2 million deal that includes a mutual option for 2013. McDonald and Aaron Hill joined the D-backs from Toronto on August 23, a trade that cemented their middle-infield defense. The 40-year-old Blanco is credited as an invaluable clubhouse stabilizer as well as a mentor for regular catcher Miguel Montero, who had career highs in virtually every offensive number and also improved defensively in 2011.
McDonald, 37, fortifies the team at shortstop as it awaits the return of starting shortstop Stephen Drew, who suffered a season-ending fractured right ankle on July 20. The D-backs have set no time frame for the return of Drew, and it is uncertain if he will be ready for the start of spring training in three months or whether he will have enough range to play shortstop upon his return.
The D-backs exercised their team option on Blanco and shortstop/outfielder Willie Bloomquist on October 31, but both declined their sides of the mutual option. It turned out to be an academic exercise for Blanco, who was in the process of negotiating the new deal that gave him a small raise in 2012 (he was to make $1.15 million under his previous contract) and an extra option year.
Bloomquist, who spent the great majority of the second half of the season as Drew's replacement at shortstop, also declined a mutual option that would have guaranteed him $1.1 million in hopes of adding another year to his deal. The D-backs say they still have an interest in re-signing free agent Bloomquist, who is represented by Scott Boras, but he will be able to test the market inasmuch as the two sides had not reached an agreement by the November 3 deadline of exclusivity in talking to their own free agents.
The D-backs also declined their options on second baseman Aaron Hill and left-hander Zach Duke. The Hill move was expected by both sides, since his option was worth $8 million with a $1 million buyout. The D-backs would like to bring Hill back at a smaller price, perhaps at half of his option value. Duke will not be back.
The D-backs also have interest in re-signing free agent first baseman Lyle Overbay, who would provide depth and a left-handed bat at first base. Paul Goldschmidt will enter spring training as the starter. Goldschmidt hit 40 home runs -- 30 at Double-A Mobile and 10 with the D-backs -- in 2011.
--LF Gerardo Parra was named the NL Gold Glove winner for left fielders when the awards were distributed November 1. Parra led NL outfielders with 12 assists before the league finally stopped running on him, and he committed only two errors. He beat out Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and St. Louis' Matt Holliday in a vote of major league managers and coaches conducted by Rawlings. Parra is the second D-backs outfielder to win a Gold Glove. Center fielder Steve Finley won in 1999-2000. Finley also won in 2004, when he spent the first four months of the season with the D-backs before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
--RHP Daniel Hudson was a landslide winner of the NL Silver Slugger award after dominating the league's hitting stats for pitchers. Hudson hit .277 with three doubles, one home run and 14 RBI. Hudson led NL pitchers in hits (10) and was the only pitcher in the NL with more than eight RBI. He hit .389 and had 12 RBI with runners in scoring position. "I take great pride in my contributions as a hitter and being able to impact games both on the mound and at the plate," said Hudson, who has 20 RBI in 92 at-bats in his 1 1/3 seasons with the D-backs after being obtained at the 2010 non-waiver trade deadline from the Chicago White Sox.
--RF Justin Upton won an NL Silver Slugger award after hitting .289 with 39 doubles, five triples 31 home runs and 88 RBI. He tied for first among NL outfielders in doubles, was third in total bases (313) and was fifth in slugging percentage (.529) while setting career highs in each category. League managers and coaches picked the winners. Milwaukee's Ryan Braun and the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp were the other NL outfield winners.
--CF Chris Young was one of the three finalists for the NL Gold Glove award in center, won by the Los Angeles Dodgers' Matt Kemp. Philadelphia CF Shane Victorino's three-year Gold Glove streak was broken.
--CF Collin Cowgill was named 2011 Pacific Coast League Topps Player of the Year. Cowgill batted .354 with 13 homers and 70 RBIs for the Aces before having his contract selected by the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 26. He registered 140 hits with Reno—including 45 extra-base hits—and was successful on 30-of-33 stolen base attempts.
--RHP Charles Brewer, 3B Ryan Wheeler and RHP Kevin Munson were the D-backs' prospects selected to play in the Arizona Fall League's Rising Stars game November 5, which annually showcases some of the top prospects in the Fall League. Reliever Munson gave up one run on eight hits with 14 strikeouts in his first 10 1/3 innings.
DIAMOND STAT: 3 -- D-backs Gold Glove winners when 2011 winner LF Gerardo Parra joined 2B Orlando Hudson (2006-07) and CF Steve Finley (1999-2000).
QUOTABLE: "Our hope is that he is ready in spring. We're cautiously optimistic he'll be ready, but we have to be prepared if he's not." -- General manager Kevin Towers, on SS Stephen Drew. The D-backs signed reserve SS John McDonald to a two-year deal.
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