Byrnes set to examine roster

Byrnes set to examine roster

PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks will be on the prowl for pitching help in the offseason, but not as much as you might expect.

"I think more than likely the offseason acquisitions will probably relate more to pitching," general manager Josh Byrnes said Sunday.

Brandon Webb and Livan Hernandez are both under contract for next season and figure to anchor the rotation, with free agent Miguel Batista a question mark to return. Byrnes would like to add one more starter and then sift through a group that could consist of Claudio Vargas, Juan Cruz, Edgar and Enrique Gonzalez, Dustin Nippert, Russ Ohlendof and Micah Owings for the other two spots.

"We probably don't need to add two [starters]," Byrnes said. "But you never know. I think there's a lot of good pitchers that we bring back on a team that finished sixth in the league in ERA, and more so the last quarter of the season, pitched very, very well. So our pitching house is in order, it's a matter of whether of can we get another high-end [starter] to take us to a higher level.

"If we pitch like we did the last quarter of the season for a full season, we're in business. It's a matter of getting the personal in order to do that."

Byrnes said there will be some turnover in the coaching staff, with hitting coach Mike Aldrete and bench coach Jay Bell not returning in their current roles in order to spend more time with their families, and Triple-A manager Chip Hale will likely be the team's third-base coach next year with Carlos Tosca shifting to bench coach.

Here's what Byrnes had to say on a variety of other topics:

On whether the club will look to fill its pitching holes via trade or the free agent market: "I think the free agent market will be probably the market we participate less in. I think there are solutions through trades -- we did that last offseason -- and through young players that improve. As far as going outside, probably a better chance we do it through trade than free agency."

On how much the team needs to do in the offseason: "We bring back so much of this team, that I think with three good moves, we go from a team that has a good foundation to a team that expects not just to compete, but expects to win the division."

On the lack of production from the No. 4 spot in the order this year: "I think the overall balance was fine, but I think to go from a solid type of team dynamic to one that is playoff-ready and one of the best four teams in our league, I think we need to add a little more offense.

On how the offense could be improved: "Probably the best way is a little more danger in the middle, and again that may come from just improvement from our own or who knows? I think one through eight is good, we scored runs, it was solid. Was it above average? No. We have a lot of good offensive players. I think our offense is in good enough shape to still be good, but I think for aspirations of playoffs, we'll see if there's anything we can do other than hope that other guys take it to another level."

On Jose Valverde entering Spring Training as the closer: "I give him credit for the bounceback [this year]. He pitched well the second half of last year, the first third of this year and the last third of this year."

On how much the bullpen will change: "I think for now, we're comfortable with what we've got. Again, it's like a lot of parts of our team. It's solid. Could it get better? Yes. We'll see what the offseason holds."

On the team's payroll for next year (it was around $60 million to start this year): "I'm not sure, but probably about the same."

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.