GM Kevin Towers enters into a pivotal offseason. (Image: Photographer Name, US Presswire).
After an underwhelming 2012, Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks brass look to make the key moves to propel this team back in the direction they were headed following their 2011 campaign. The team finished a disappointing 81-81 and well short of expectations that most in baseball had for them. As we enter the offseason with some certainty in a few positions, questions still remain with others. With a few moves already made…it begs the question…what’s next?
They haven’t wasted any time, kicking off the pivotal offseason with a number of moves before the World Series even started. The team traded veteran centerfielder Chris Young to Oakland, ending their 6 year relationship in a move that was seen by most as inevitable. Arizona landed SS Cliff Pennington in the trade and it appears Pennington will either be the everyday shortstop for the D’Backs or platoon with Willie Bloomquist and/or John MacDonald. Getting back Pennington is a bit of a curious move in that the D’Backs already have the light hitting duo of Bloomquist and MacDonald under contract, adding another sure gloved SS who struggles with the bat would seem a bit redundant. Pennington offers some flexibility in that he can also play 2B. As does Bloomquist, who’s utility status has allowed skipper Kirk Gibson to use him in a number of spots on the field including 2B, 3B, and LF.
In addition to landing Pennington, Arizona got minor league prospect Yordy Cabrera in the deal who, in the most surprising move, was immediately flipped to Miami for reliever Heath Bell and cash. Another curious move in that Arizona already had in place a formidable back end of their bullpen in closer J.J. Putz, and setup men David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler. Kevin Towers is known for having a knack for building bullpens so it appears he’s doing the same here with Arizona in adding Bell.
Moving Young helped clear space in the outfield, presumably for prospect Adam Eaton who played well in a short stint at the end of the season. However, it is still possible that another Arizona OF could be dealt. As of the moment, the D’Backs will go into 2012 with Eaton, Gerardo Parra, Justin Upton and Jason Kubel. It seems as if all of them have been discussed as possible pieces to move.
The next moves are those that have Diamondbacks fans intrigued with what will happen next. The most glaring concern moving forward is 3B. Arizona made a move with Houston for Chris Johnson at the deadline but it doesn’t appear that they are sold on Johnson being the mainstay at the hot corner. There really aren’t any clear cut options in the free agent market. A name that could be interesting would be Kevin Youkilis who might be a nice option both defensively and at the plate.
Towers has publicly mentioned a few things that might tip his hand as to what direction he might go in addressing both the OF and 3B situations. He has alluded to the desire to improve the team defensively. He has also stated that what they do at one position could very well affect what they do in the other. For instance, if they were to add a 3B either by sign or trade who was more of a run producer than a glove man that they would then focus on the defense in LF, and vice versa. This knowledge might allude to Arizona considering cashing in on Kubel’s career season, dealing him for other needs, and giving Gold Glover Parra the job in LF. That scenario then begs the question of who could possibly be Towers’ target for 3B?
Regardless, the good news in all of this is that the Diamondbacks appear to be in a very flexible spot to improve their club. They have a number of assets at multiple levels that would allow them to be players in the trade market. History shows us that Kevin Towers is willing to make big moves; it’s possible the Arizona GM could be positioning his club to make one of those moves and drastically improve his club for the upcoming 2013 season.