If Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers was busy in recent weeks moving and acquiring personnel, then the next few weeks should be equally challenging.
That’s because Towers now goes from evaluating talent to evaluating the value of talent.
Six players have filed for salary arbitration, and Towers is now in the awkward position to argue against the worth of these players. In all probability, the contract disputes will be settled before any hearing is established, and those inquiries are scheduled between Feb. 4 and the 20th.
If a certain case reaches that far, the word of the arbitrator is final and either your side wins or loses. There is no compromise, no middle ground.
That gives the six players and Towers about a month, in the longest scenario and about three weeks at the shortest, to come to agreements.
Perhaps the most challenging for Towers will be the case of right-hander Ian Kennedy. With agent Scott Boros at his side, Kennedy will likely ask for a substantial increase from his $510,000 salary of 2012. Kennedy enters the talks as a 21 game winner in 2011 and, with the benefit of a strong second half, managed to raise his 2012 record to 15-12 and a 4.02 ERA.
Boros will likely ask in the $7-$9 million range and the D-backs could counter with a $3-6 million range offer. A positive force in the clubhouse and accommodating with the media, Kennedy remains as the D-backs number one starter, and Boros will enter negotiations specifically with that argument.
Others who filed for salary arbitration are third baseman Chris Johnson, shortstop Cliff Pennington, outfielder Gerardo Parra and pitchers Tony Sipp and Brad Ziegler.
Ziegler and the Diamondbacks faced off last year at arbitration time, but settled among themselves for one year at $1,795,000. The submariner is coming off a strong season in which he turned in a 2.49 ERA and led all relievers 21 ground ball double plays. That was the most in the majors since Doug Zisk in 1998, also 21.
Parra earned $502,000 a year ago and appeared in 133 games. His .273 batting average was down from the .292 in 141 games the year before.
Coming over from Houston in late July, Johnson turned in nearly equal numbers with the Astros and D-backs. For Houston, he hit.279 and .286 with Arizona. With the D-backs, Johnson hit seven home runs and drove in 35 runs. Combined with both teams, Johnson earned $495,000 last year.
Recently acquired from Cleveland, left-hander Sipp made $504,900 last season while Pennington, who came over from the A’s for Chris Young, earned $490,000 a year ago.
Since the earliest any player could file free agency is Ziegler in 2015, the D-backs would like to capture Kennedy long term. Kennedy is eligible for free agency in 2016 and would likely appear on Towers’ long term radar screen.
The other five could have a shorter time span in the desert and each is likely to settle on a one year deal.
In their history, the Diamondbacks have settled in arbitration only twice. They lost to catcher Damian Miller in 2001 and beat Jorge Fabregas in 1998.
Last season, they avoided arbitration with Zeigler and catcher Miguel Montero and signed each to a one year deal. In the middle of last season, Montero signed a five year deal worth an estimated $60 million.
FILLING THE ROSTER
Six members of the Diamondbacks have been named to their country's rosters for the up-coming World Baseball Classic.
Utility player Willie Bloomquist and reliever Heath Bell were named the USA team. Outfielder Gerardo Parra and catcher Miguel Montero will join Team Venezuela, reliever David Hernandez will pitch for Mexico while Nelson Figueroa joins the Puerto Rico roster.
Team USA will train at Salt River and the team is scheduled to report March 1. Chase Field is one of four sites for the opening round of competition March 7-10 and the final two out of three series for the championship is slated for AT&T Park in San Francisco, March 17-19.