Over the next week, do not expect anything dramatic from Kevin Towers.
Then again, the D-backs general manager just could surprise.
Next week, Towers will be in Nashville to attend the baseball Winter Meetings, and will make an appearance with an open mind but strong resolve. As Towers sees the present make-up of his club, there is no need to tweak or otherwise alter the current playing roster. At best, Towers said he will remain steadfast not to dramatically modify what is already in place.
Since the end of last season, Towers reiterated he could strengthen the left side of the infield and perhaps add a veteran to the starting rotation.
So far in this off-season, he addressed one area of concern.
Here, the D-backs acquired left-handed reliever Matt Reynolds from the Rockies in exchange for third baseman Ryan Wheeler. Still, there is no firm agenda for Nashville but, as been his tradition, Towers plans to listen to everyone who calls.
“Every year is different but this is also an opportunity to get together with members of the organization and see what we have,” he said during a phone interview Thursday from the Dominican Republic. “It means we can all get into one room and discuss our organization. Overall, it’s hard to have an agenda.”
At times, teams can get better through subtraction. That might be the case when Towers unloaded Wheeler to Colorado and, in effect, told Chris Johnson he won the third base job.
As well, Towers and the rest of the organization is waiting for Chris Owings to emerge as the Diamondbacks shortstop of tomorrow.
With a strong Arizona Fall League, Owings captured the attention of decision-makers with his strong glove and positive attitude. Likely to start to AA Mobile this coming season, the organization would like Owings to improve with the bat and raise his average. Until that is done, Cliff Pennington, acquired from Oakland in the Chris Young deal in the middle of last month, will likely play the majority of the time at shortstop in 2013.
If Towers makes no more transactions between now and the start of spring training, he remains satisfied with the personnel in currently in place. While the search for a veteran starter may be on his radar screen, Towers said he is prepared to go with the current starters, Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, Tyler Skaggs, Patrick Corbin and Josh Collmenter to open the season.
Ideally, the Diamondbacks would like to have Collmenter as their long reliever in the bullpen and wait for Daniel Hudson, out until at least the All-Star Game recovering from Tommy John surgery, to return to the rotation.
“I thought we had a better team in 2012 than we did in 2011,” Towers said. “We didn’t perform up to our capabilities. Right now, we think we have the team which can compete in 2013 and we’re prepared to move forward.”
When Towers arrives in Nashville for the meetings (next Monday through Thursday), the name of Justin Upton will likely hit him like an avalanche.
Throughout the recent general managers meetings in Indian Wells, Calif, Upton’s name surfaced more times than Towers would like to admit. As he said before, and reiterated Thursday during the phone interview, Upton will not be moved unless the deal makes the Diamondbacks a significantly better team.
Towers deferred the notion that Upton may be more conducive to movement because his brother B. J., after declaring free agency from the Tampa Bay Rays, just signed a five year, $75.25 million deal with the Atlanta Braves.
“You would have to ask Justin that,” Towers said. “Like I said, we believe we are a good club with Justin in right field.”
Still, Towers did not discount the notion he will go to Nashville, “kick some tires,” and engage in meaningful discussion.
RULE 5 PROTECTION
The Diamondbacks protected several young prospects by moving these players to the 40 man roster.
That way, teams can not chose players left unprotected through the Rule 5 method and in the same manner which the D-backs selected left-handed reliever Joe Paterson from the Giants roster in the winter of 2010. Paterson went on to help the team capture the 2011 NL West Division title as he went 0-3, and 2.91 ERA in 62 appearances.
The players now protected from Rule 5 invasion include right-handed pitchers Chase Anderson, Eric Smith, Charles Brewer, left Eury de la Rosa, and outfielder Keon Broxton.