Though Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers did not actively seek a closer, it looks like one fell conveniently into his lap.
Last week at the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Towers became immersed in trade talk with several clubs and eventually pulled the trigger on a three-way deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Chicago White Sox that brought Halos’ outfielder Mark Trumbo to the desert. A reliever was not part of the deal.
During these conversations, Towers’ discussion with the White Sox broaden. While discussing outfielder Adam Eaton with the Sox, Towers told reporters late Monday afternoon in a conference call that the name of infielder Matt Davidson surfaced.
It was after the Eaton trade that Rick Hahn, the Sox general manager, approached Towers and asked about Davidson. Talks then began to heat and the deal, Davidson to the White Sox for closer Addision Reed, was cut last Friday.
It’s no secret the Diamondbacks’ bull pen last season woefully underachieved. To that regard, Towers shipped off Health Bell, one of the main culprits, to the Tampa Bay Rays and told reporters he thought the 2014 closer would come directly from the Arizona organization.
“I was not focused on the back end of the bullpen,” Towers said. “I think you always have pitching needs and when Davidson’s name came up, the Sox said that Reed might be available. So I said, ’yes,’ and we got it done.”
Reed, a 24-year-old native of Montclair, Calif., comes to the Diamondbacks with impressive credentials.
For a White Sox team which finished last in the American League Central Division last season with a 63-99 record, Reed recorded 40 saves, more than half the wins. Over the last two years with Chicago, the 6-4, 220 pounder recorded 69 saves in 130 appearances.
Given the implosion of the Arizona bullpen a year, Reed could likely emerge as the D-backs closer.
Last season’s principal closer Brad Ziegler could return to his more familiar set-up position and traditional closer J. J. Putz will have to fight for his survival.
“In spring training, I’ll do everything I can to show the ninth inning belongs to me,” Reed said Monday afternoon on a conference call with reporters. “I want to make their decision difficult about the ninth inning and I’m prepared to win the job.”
Towers appears to be on the same page.
“We’ll see what happens in spring training,” Towers said. “We’ll go with the best guy and if Reed is the best guy, then he’s our closer.”
Growing up in southern California, Reed said he always wanted to be a closer and looked to Troy Percival, the Angels’ dominant reliever, as his role model.
In 14 major league seasons, Percival recorded 358 saves in 703 games and with the Angels, he picked up 316 saves in 579 appearances.
For his part, Reed said his “out pitch” is the slider and indicated use of the fastball, curve and slider are all important. As well, he discounts the notion of re-education to National League hitters.
“The game is a little different over here and there’s an emphasis on small ball,” he pointed out. “But, I’m not getting away from my game. I’ll go after hitters the same way here as I did with the White Sox.”
Through Reed said he always wanted to close, that role was not defined until early in the 2011 season.
That’s when Reed sat down with White Sox officials to discuss how he could best fit in the organization. When the closer role was settled, Reed assumed the position with vigor and enthusiasm.
“The closer role, I love it,” he said. “This is something I’ve always dreamed.”
When the trade went down Monday, Reed said the transaction was coincidental.
“Right now, I’m looking for a house in Arizona, and then the trade,” he said. “I guess getting a house now in Arizona just became a little easier.”
Over the recent weekend, the Diamondbacks offered minor league contracts to pitcher Daniel Hudson and veteran catcher Henry Blanco.
Recovering from a second Tommy John surgery in as many years, it is uncertain whether Hudson will pitch again at the major league level or any level. For now, he will continue to rehab within the Arizona organization.
For Blanco, this could be his second tour of duty with the Diamondbacks.
As Miguel Montero’s back-up two years ago, Blanco was widely credited for helping refine Montero’s defensive skills. Now at age 42, Blanco will battle for a roster spot at the major league level.
Currently, Tuffy Gosewisch is on the D-backs’ 40-man roster and the likely back-up to Montero for next season.