The Diamondbacks agreed to send catcher Chris Snyder to Toronto for first baseman Lyle Overbay in early November even though it would have caused a salary bump for 2010, but the Blue Jays called off the deal, at least temporarily.
Snyder underwent a microdiscectomy -- a surgery similar to the one Randy Johnson has undergone three times in his career -- to correct a problem in his lower back in September, but health was not an issue in the Blue Jays' decision to halt the deal, according to a source familiar with the talks. The medical staff for each team cleared Snyder, the source said.
Jays starting catcher Rod Barajas filed for free agency on November 9, and it is likely Toronto decided to also take a look at the bountiful free agent market before committing to a catcher for 2010. Bengie Molina, Ramon Hernandez, Miguel Olivo, and Yorvit Torrealba are among the free agents backstops on the market.
The D-backs' starter since 2005, Snyder battled back issues most of last season and lost his job to Miguel Montero, who will be Arizona's starter entering 2010. The small-market D-backs would rather reallocate the money earmarked for Snyder, who is to make $4.75 million in 2010 and $5.75 million in 2011 with a $6.75 million option for 2012 that includes a $750,000 buyout. He hit .200 with six homers and 22 RBI this year.
The fact that the D-backs went after Overbay, who is to make $7 million in the final year of his contract in 2010, indicates that at least some in the organization believe first baseman Brandon Allen may not be ready to start the 2010 season in the major leagues after all. Overbay, originally drafted by the D-backs, hit .265 with 16 homers and 64 RBI last season.
Allen, 23, tore through Class AAA Reno after being obtained from the Chicago White Sox last July. He hit .324 with 12 homers, 32 RBI, and a 1.055 OPS in 38 games for the Aces before being promoted to the D-backs in late August. Allen hit .202 with four homers and 14 RBI in 104 at-bats with Arizona, striking out 40 times.
In the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League, Allen had 11 hits in his first 41 at-bats for the Scottsdale Scorpions before going through an 0-for-28 drought as part of a 2-for-41 stretch. His average fell to .159.
--RHP Brandon Webb, as expected, will return to the Diamondbacks in 2010 after they exercised his $8.5 million contract option rather than pay a $2 million buyout. Webb has not thrown off a mound since debridement surgery to clean up his right labrum and rotator cuff in August, but the club had to exercise the option within five days of the end of the World Series.
"There is risk in everything," general manager Josh Byrnes said. "I think some of the risk has been reduced because the surgery went well and 'Webby' has responded well. I think there is a lot of reward."
Webb won 56 games between 2006-08, when he finished 1-2-2 in the NL Cy Young Award balloting. He threw a baseball for the first time since the surgery on November 11 and felt no pain.
--Matt Williams, who has a small ownership stake in the D-backs, was named first base coach for the 2010 season. He replaces Lorenzo Bundy, who was let go after one season. Williams finished his 17-year major league playing career with the D-backs from 1998-2003 and has been a special assistant with the team the past five seasons as well as being a member of the broadcast crew. A five-time All-Star, Williams served as an interim manager at Class AA Mobile in 2007, working with OF Justin Upton and RHP Max Scherzer there. Williams, a four-time Gold Glove winner, also will coach the infielders.
--Bo Porter was named the third base coach to replace Chip Hale, who has accepted a job as the New York Mets' third base coach. Porter, who spent parts of three seasons in the major leagues, was the third base coach and outfield coach the last three seasons with the Florida Marlins. He is expected to be involved in polishing OF Justin Upton, a task Bundy had in 2009.
--Bullpen coach Glenn Sherlock accepted an offer to return for his 13th consecutive season, the only member of the on-field staff to be with the D-backs since their inception in 1998. Sherlock actually joined the organization with Buck Showalter in 1995, working as the organization's catching coordinator in 1996-97.
--LHP Scott Schoeneweis, who has filed for free agency, is not among the relievers the D-backs are interested in pursuing this offseason. Schoeneweis was 1-2 with a 7.12 ERA in 45 games and endured a personal tragedy when his wife was found dead in the family home May 20 while Schoeneweis with the D-backs on a road trip in Florida.
DIAMOND STAT: .429 -- OF/1B Conor Jackson's batting average in his first 20 games for Escogido in the Dominican winter league.
QUOTABLE: "I mean, you're talking about one of the best pitchers in baseball. As we made that decision, in our mind, the reward was greater than the risk." -- GM Josh Byrnes, who picked up RHP Brandon Webb's $8.5 million option for 2010 despite not seeing him pitch after August shoulder surgery.
The Diamondbacks addressed several of their offseason needs immediately after the World Series, accepting the $8.5 million 2010 option on RHP Brandon Webb's contract and acquiring 2B Tony Abreu as the player to be named in the RHP Jon Garland deal. They are still in the market for a #4 starting pitcher and at least one bullpen veteran, additions that are likely to come through the free agent market.
BIGGEST NEEDS: The D-backs must add at least one starting pitcher, even after retaining Webb to go with RHP Dan Haren and RHP Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation. Another solid arm (such as RHP Jon Garland in 2009) will be sought because of uncertainty below the top three. RHP Billy Buckner pitched well enough down the stretch to be given first shot, but his resume is hit-and-miss. RHP Jarrod Parker, the ninth player taken overall in the 2007 draft, was a candidate before he underwent Tommy John ligament replacement surgery on October 28. Abreu will be given every chance to be the starting second baseman.
FREE AGENTS: LHP Doug Davis, LHP Scott Schoeneweis, 1B/3B Chad Tracy, RHP Daniel Cabrera.
The D-backs offered Davis a one-year deal late in 2009, but Davis wanted multiple years, so talks broke off. Usually when a situation like that occurs, the D-backs move on, but Davis lives in Phoenix and might reconsider if given a chance. Schoeneweis, who also lives in Phoenix, is unlikely to return. The Diamondbacks declined Tracy's $7 million option. Cabrera chose free agency when he was outrighted off the 40-man roster.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Blaine Boyer, SS Stephen Drew, OF/1B Conor Jackson, C Miguel Montero, INF Augie Ojeda, RHP Chad Qualls.
The D-backs have never gone to arbitration in general manager Josh Byrnes' four years, preferring to settle at the midway point if figures are exchanged. Drew, Jackson, Montero, and Qualls certainly will be back. Ojeda is the team's best defender and wants to return, but the addition of Abreu thickens the middle-infield cast. Jackson's case will be interesting, since he missed almost five months with "valley fever" following a 2008 season in which he hit .300.
IN LIMBO: OF Eric Byrnes has fallen to fourth outfielder, even fifth if Conor Jackson regains his health, and he will be shopped again, although he is owed $11 million in the final year of his contract in 2010 and has a no-trade clause. C Chris Snyder signed a contract extension that will pay him $3.5 million in 2010 and $4.5 million in 2011, and the D-backs already took a shot at moving that money when they discussed a trade with Toronto for 1B Lyle Overbay. Clubs no doubt will want to see Snyder healthy in spring training before a deal could be made.
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