November 2009

Important December dates for D-backs

With the Winter Meetings coming up next week (Dec. 6-9) in Indianapolis (just curious did MLB run out of warm weather cities to host it in?) I thought it would be a good time to look at some other important dates in the month of December.

Deadline to offer free agents arbitration: Tuesday night is the deadline for teams to offer arbitration to their free agents. If a player is not offered arbitration by 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) than the team does not get any compensation should he sign elsewhere.

The only player the D-backs have a decision to make about is left-hander Doug Davis. They almost certainly will not offer him arbitration because of the fear that he could accept it. The D-backs have not shown any interest in retaining Davis since they approached him in July about the possibility of a one-year extension.

If the D-backs are extremely confident that Davis would not accept arbitration, they could offer it and as a Type-B free agent, the D-backs would get a compensatory draft pick after the first round of the 2010 First-Year Player Draft.

Deadline for players to accept arbitration: Should the D-backs for some reason offer Davis arbitration, he would have until 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) on Dec. 7 to accept it.

Deadline to tender contracts: Teams must offer contracts to its unsigned players by 9:59 p.m. (Arizona Time) on Dec. 12 otherwise those players become free agents.

Typically, the players that are “non-tendered” are those players who are eligible for salary arbitration. In the D-backs case they have seven players eligible for arbitration: RHP Blaine Boyer, SS Stephen Drew, LF Conor Jackson, C Miguel Montero, INF Augie Ojeda, RHP Chad Qualls and RHP Aaron Heilman.

At one time it looked like a possibility the team would non-tender Jackson, but after his time in Instructional League and his impressive campaign in the Dominican Winter League they certainly will tender him.

It’s likely the team will also try to reach an agreement with Ojeda on a deal before this date rather than get locked in to what he might make via arbitration.

Johnson an unlikely target

With the D-backs looking for a veteran first baseman, there are some that have speculated free agent Nick Johnson would be a good choice. While that may be the case, it seems unlikely given that there has been significant interest in him. reported recently that the Mariners, Giants, Mets and Yankees all had interest in Johnson, who will be looking for a multi-year deal.

With a little more than $10 million to spend and a more pressing need in the starting rotation, don’t look for the D-backs to be in the bidding for Johnson.

Thanksgiving thoughts

On Thanksgiving today, I’m reminded of something that took place a few days after this year’s All-Star Game. I was in St. Louis and having breakfast in the concierge lounge at my hotel.

A fellow guest thanked the women doing the serving us and I will never forget her response.

“No, thank you,” she replied. “Because if not for you, there would be no me.”

What a wonderful attitude for someone serving others to have! I think about that today as I thank you for reading my stories and blog throughout the year because if it were not for you reading, well I wouldn’t have a job.

It’s so easy in this business to forget that. I hope you know that I never do. It’s why I welcome your emails even the ones that are not complimentary. I appreciate the fact that you are reading something I wrote and taking time to share your thoughts.

It is my sincere hope that over the next year this blog will be a way for us to have a two-way conversation. I welcome any suggestions you have for how to make the blog better, if there are facets of our daily coverage that you think we could do better and what kinds of Twitter updates are most helpful for you. Speaking of Twitter, if you’d like to follow me you can do so @dbackswriter.

Here are some things for D-backs fans to be thankful for:

Dan Haren’s splitter.

Justin Upton’s potential.

Conor Jackson’s health.

Miguel Montero’s outlook.

Clay Zavada’s story.

Tony Clark’s class.

Chad Tracy’s heart.

Brandon Webb’s sinker.

Mark Reynolds’ passion.

Josh Byrnes’ dedication.

Derrick Hall’s optimism.

Chris Young’s quiet dignity.

Ken Kendrick’s honesty.

If you have anything to the list, feel free to post below.


Heilman deal a good one

The D-backs pick up of Aaron Heilman from the Cubs on Thursday is not likely to draw much attention, but certainly looks like a good deal for Arizona.

With a little more than $10 million to spend this offseason, I’m not sure the D-backs had the ability to be a serious player for a top-tier free-agent reliever.

Heilman gives them a more cost-effective way of filling a need in the pen. He made $1.625 million last year and as an arbitration-eligible player this year he will likely get a raise to somewhere between $2 million and $2.5 million.

In addition, he will be a free agent following the season so you’re basically looking at a one-year committment and should he be a Type-B free agent, the D-backs would get a draft pick for him should he sign elsewhere. Not a bad return on a pair of prospects who were not exactly setting the world on fire.

There’s also some pretty good upside to Heilman judging by his performance for the Mets from 2005-2007. His numbers the last two seasons have not been as good in terms of his ERA and walk rate etc., but if the D-backs are able to get him right, he could really help in the late innings.

It’s a low-risk move with a chance at paying off and it leaves the D-backs with more money to spend on that No. 4 starter and maybe on another reliever.

D-backs acquire Aaron Heilman

PHOENIX — The D-backs bolstered their bullpen Thursday acquiring right-hander Aaron Heilman from the Cubs in exchange for a pair of Minor Leaguers.

Heilman was 4-4 with a 4.11 ERA and one save in 70 games for the Cubs. The 31-year-old walked 34 and fanned 65 while holding opponents to a .257 average.

The D-backs sent left-handed pitcher Scott Main and infielder Ryne White to the Cubs. Maine, who pitched in the Arizona Fall League this year was a sixth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft and split time this past season between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Reno.

White, meanwhile, was a fourth-round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. Last season he hit .266 with six homers and 52 RBIs for Class A Visalia.

Heilman is 26-37 with 10 saves and a 4.22 ERA in 375 career games with the Mets and Cubs.