Towers says D-backs will seek infield help

Towers says D-backs will seek infield help

PHOENIX -- The day after the D-backs completed a disappointing 81-81 season, general manager Kevin Towers laid out his team's offseason priorities.

Towers said his first order of business is finding a replacement at shortstop for Stephen Drew and strengthening the team at third base.

The D-backs traded Drew to the A's in August and do not feel they can count on the combination of Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald to man the position for a full season. D-backs manager Kirk Gibson said that Bloomquist broke down physically this year after being asked to be a starter more than in the past.

Third base was a weak spot for the D-backs early in the season as Ryan Roberts was unable to replicate his 2011 season. The team acquired Chris Johnson in a late-July deal with the Astros and also called up Ryan Wheeler to play there as well.

The club does have a prospect it really likes at third base in Matt Davidson, who played in Double-A Mobile this year and will participate in the Arizona Fall League.

"Chris Johnson was a nice kind of shot in the arm in the middle of the season, and you're always trying to upgrade your team if you can," Towers said. "The tough thing is when you look at the free-agent market, it's probably the area where there's less inventory. Probably those moves to upgrade those positions more than likely will have to come via the trade."

Towers would also like to improve the bullpen by adding a power arm to the back end of it as well as a left-handed specialist.

It is likely that the D-backs will exercise the $6.5 million option for closer J.J. Putz, but Towers hedged when asked about the contract option for right-hander Matt Lindstrom.

The D-backs started 2012 with southpaw Joe Paterson in the bullpen, but after he struggled, he was demoted to Triple-A and lefty Mike Zagurski struggled in the role.

"One area where we weren't very successful was against left-handed hitters late in the game, so it would be nice to have that left-on-left guy that Gibby could go to late in the game," Towers said.

Finally, the other area Towers may address is adding a veteran to the starting rotation. As it stands now, the D-backs have Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley with spots next year. That leaves two slots to be filled from a group of young pitchers like Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer.

That's a lot of youth and the D-backs would like to add a veteran to that mix. In addition Towers said he might have to trade a young pitcher to acquire a shortstop.

One position of depth the D-backs could trade from is the outfield.

The D-backs have Justin Upton, Chris Young, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock on the roster and that makes for a crowded situation.

"That's something I'm going to have to deal with this winter," Towers said. "We've got a plethora of outfielders and they all want to play. It's my job to kind of clean up that problem. I don't think we'll go into Spring Training with six outfielders. Pollock and Eaton have probably done all they can do at the Triple-A level and it's my job to clean up what I would say is a good mess."

Don't look for Eaton to get traded as Towers praised his leadoff ability and as for Upton, well, Towers would not rule out trading him. Managing general partner Ken Kendrick, who told the team's flagship station KTAR 620 AM on Wednesday that it was "highly likely" Upton would not get traded.

"I would say if there was ever a time to cash in, it was probably last year and nothing happened," Towers said. "I think where Ken's coming from is it's a player that we all admire, it's a guy that we know, we have history with, he's still very young we still think there's great upside potential. I think Ken understands that it's our job in baseball to field calls and gather information to find out is there a deal with Justin or any of our other players that might make us better. It's probably highly likely he'll be back here. In the last two years nothing has presented itself, even really close, to making us think about moving him."

Gibson's entire coaching staff is under contract through next season, but Towers said the staff was being evaluated and the organization would make a decision on whether they would bring them back in the next couple of weeks.

Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.