Arizona Diamondbacks: At least for now, no movement

Could Brandon Drury end up playing third base in 2018? (Ralph Freso / Getty Images)
Could Brandon Drury end up playing third base in 2018? (Ralph Freso / Getty Images) /

While active in discussions, Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen did not finalize any trades nor sign free agents at the winter meetings.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – No news is not always bad news. That sums up talks which general manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks conducted over the past three days at the winter meetings.

While Hazen told Call to the Pen was he was active in talks with teams and agents, he did not commit to a timetable in which transaction would be finalized. As is his custom, no names were named and carefully avoided.

Instead, Hazen remained cautious and prudent and indicated his approach is measured and restrained. Conversely, if a deal quickly materialized, Hazen pointed out he would not hesitate to the agreement.

"“We had a good team in 2017 and we’ll have a good team in 2018,” he told Call to the Pen. “We’re looking at strengthening our team in 2018 and beyond. Dealing with each team and each agent is different. Some deals come together quickly and if others drag, then you walk away.”"

Coming into the meetings, Hazen had his eyes set on improving the bullpen, and anticipating the departure of J. D. Martinez. At the same time, manager Torey Lovullo told Call to the Pen Wednesday here at the winter meetings,

"“We had a very good record for the first half of the season, but J. D. gave us an extra push.”"

The bottom line is the Diamondbacks will survive without Martinez. Yet, his make-up and demeanor, Lovullo pointed out, make him a productive player for several years to come.

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Still, rumors persisted here Wednesday. The Texas Rangers remains interested in pitcher Zack Greinke, and pitcher Patrick Corbin and infielder Brandon Drury have the attention of the New York Yankees.

Now, Hazen seems prepared to walk away from his central Florida location with a few irons in the fire.

Overall, the winter meetings tend to be over-rated for its forum of trades and free agent signings. Only trades which sent Giancarlo Stanton from the Marlins to the Yankees and Marcell Ozuna from the Marlins to the Cardinals shook the baseball world.

After the close of business this Friday, the Diamondbacks are shutting their doors for the holiday and will not resume operations until Monday, Jan. 2. With front office scattered, it’s likely little will get done between now and commencement of the new year.

By then, it’s six weeks to spring training and the time Hazen, and other club officials would like the 2018 Arizona Diamondbacks to be pretty much in place.

Is it two or three?

When catcher Chris Iannetta signed a two-year deal with the Colorado Rockies last weekend, that brought the Diamondbacks into a roster quandary.

Last season, the club carried three catchers, Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and Iannetta, and manager Torey Lovullo expressed satisfaction with a three-catcher system. Now with Iannetta out of the picture, the prospect of carrying two, or three catchers, impacts roster construction.

Here in mid-December, Lovullo called Call to the Pen he would prefer to carry three. The principal reason is Herrmann’s versatility, who can catch, play the outfield and also first base. At the winter meetings here Wednesday, Lovullo pointed out the value of a three-catcher system.

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"“Right now, we’re talking about Herrmann and Mathis, but don’t forget John Ryan Murphy (acquired from Minnesota on July 27),” he said. “Yes, carrying two or three will likely dictate if we keep 12 or 13 pitchers. At this point, I’d like to carry three.”"

Because starters last season produced quality innings and did not tax the bullpen, that gave Lovullo the luxury of carrying three catchers. There’s no reason to believe he will make every effort to retain a three catcher-system when the Arizona Diamondbacks break camp in late next March.