The Diamondbacks avoided an arbitration hearing for the third consecutive season under general manager Josh Byrnes by signing second baseman Orlando Hudson, right-hander Brandon Lyon, catcher Chris Snyder, right-handed reliever Chad Qualls and infielder/outfielder Chris Burke before figures were exchanged, but that does not mean they are through negotiating.
The team has had preliminary talks on long-term contracts with Hudson and Lyon, who will become free agents next winter, and Byrnes said "it's possible" he could re-open discussions. A deal for Lyon might hinge upon whether the club appoints him as closer before spring training.
"We have at least broached the subject. We may revisit them later," Byrnes said.
Hudson, whose new deal is worth $6.25 million, claimed he would "love to have a long-term deal in Arizona."
"I hope to end my career in Arizona," Hudson said. "It's a great place to play. The fans are great. The atmosphere is great. Our front office guys are great."
"Talks are in the making," continued Hudson. "I don't know how far along they are. That's big-dog business. I don't get in between agents and owners. I hope this works out."
Hudson has won three consecutive Gold Gloves, the last two with the Diamondbacks. The club's other primary second base candidates in 2009 would include newcomer Burke, acquired from Houston in the Jose Valverde deal, and Emilio Bonifacio, considered the best infield prospect in the organization.
--2B Orlando Hudson, who missed the final four weeks of the regular season and both playoff series because of a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left thumb, has been swinging and throwing for more than a month and should be 100 percent for the start of spring training. He expects to arrive in camp with the pitchers and catchers Feb. 15, although the position players do not have their first workout until Feb. 21.
--Unless the Diamondbacks do any more work on long-term contracts for 2B Orlando Hudson and RHP Brandon Lyon -- both of whom could become free agents after 2008 -- their Opening Day on-field payroll will approach $63 million, an increase of about $10 million from 2007. The salary figure they use internally is about $73 million, since they also include the money owed RH Russ Ortiz ($9.5 million) and OF Shawn Green ($1 million contract buyout). Ortiz, now with San Francisco, is in the final year of a four-year, $33 million deal signed before the 2005 season.
--RHPs Tony Pena, Brandon Lyon and Chad Qualls are the three candidates to replace RHP Jose Valverde in the closer's role. The Diamondbacks would like to name a closer going into spring training and not hold a competition, but they have not done so yet. Pena seems the most logical candidate, and he has been billed as a closer-in-waiting since he made his major league debut in July 2006 after skyrocketing through the minor leagues that season.
--RHP Jarrod Parker, who did not pitch last summer after signing a $2.1 million contract with the Diamondbacks as their first pick in the June draft, is one of 17 non-roster invitees to spring training. C Ed Easley and RHPs Wes Roemer and Barry Enright also were invited. Together, they comprised the top four picks in last year's draft.
--Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall said the club's season-ticket renewal rate is better than it ever has been, pointing out that of the roughly 12,000 season-ticket holders, more than 93 percent have renewed for the 2008 season. The previous high was 92.3 percent following the team's World Series championship season in 2001.
Hall is hoping season-ticket sales advance to the 15,000 range. "It would be a giant jump," he said. "That's what we're hoping to get. I think we can get it; there's a lot of excitement out there."
--3B/1B Chad Tracy may be delayed in spring training after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee in September, and the Diamondbacks could look to sign a potential insurance policy, perhaps a free agent such as INF/OF Eric Hinske.
Provided Tracy is able to break camp with the team, there are no position player spots available on the 25-man roster. The Diamondbacks are set everywhere else.
BY THE NUMBERS: $13.2 million -- Combined 2008 salary of the five players the Diamondbacks signed Jan. 18, avoiding arbitration.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It was something I wanted to do in college. I had read up on it and studied it. It was just something that always intrigued me. I'm not going to lie. I had the same thoughts Pat Tillman had. We grew up in the same area and I knew Pat. The thing is, Pat acted on it and I didn't, and I've got all the respect in the world for him. He was a much bigger man than I'll ever be." -- LF Eric Byrnes on entertaining thoughts of becoming a Navy SEAL when he was in college at UCLA.
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