Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers’ holiday shopping list is nearly complete.
Let’s see, Santa delivered a closer in Addison Reed, a power-hitting outfielder in Mark Trumbo, and on Wednesday, utility infielder Eric Chavez landed in Towers’ lap.
Eagerly wanted to re-sign Chavez to provide a solid left-handed bat off the bench. Towers had to sweat out offers from mainly the Yankees before inking the 36-year-old resident of Scottsdale.
“At this point, we’re very close to an agreement,” Towers said standing on Chase Field Wednesday during a Diamondbacks’ holiday charity event. “There’s still some exchange of correspondence but I would say we’re on the 1-yard line.”
Because the Diamondbacks will likely be a dominant, right-hitting line-up, the importance of Chavez, Towers pointed out, cannot be underestimated. Towers said he would like 250, 275 at-bats for Chavez and last season, in 80 games, Chavez made 228 plate appearances.
Overall, Chavez hit .281 and was highly productive. He drove in 44 runs on 64 hits and his RBI total was enough for fourth best on the team.
For 2014, Towers indicated manager Kirk Gibson would play Chavez no more than two days in a row at third and that would give Martin Prado a day off or two from the "hot corner.". Since he spent two portions of last season in the disabled list, Chavez admitted, at season’s end, that his value to the Diamondbacks was as a spot player.
For now, Towers says he now has adequate bench strength.
Still on the wish list is a bona-fide starter.
Admitting the search remains a challenge, Towers says the Diamondbacks may not commit to a substantial, long-term deal. That would be defined as three to four years and Towers, along with Gibson, enter their final contract year with Arizona in 2014.
It's been reported the Diamondbacks would like to offer no more than a two-year deal.
Names like David Price, Matt Garza and Japanese sensation right-hander Mashiro Tanaka are the prominent pitchers in the mix. While Towers may be comfortable raising the Diamondbacks’ 2014 salary obligations to perhaps $112 million, he may not have the ultimate powers to lure a big-time starter to the desert,
In the meantime, Towers will have to make do with Chavez as his principal left-handed bat off the bench. That precludes starting catcher Miguel Montero and starting light-fielder Gerardo Parra, both left-handed hitters.
“Chavez gives us a legitimate left-handed bat and a player who will provide a professional at-bat,” Towers added. “He’s entering his second year here and will assume a larger role. I suspect he’ll have more of a leadership role and bigger presence than last year.”
And, Towers made the ultimate conclusion.
“Our bench will be all right,” he promised.