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D-backs ahead of game entering Winter Meetings

D-backs ahead of game entering Winter Meetings

D-backs ahead of game entering Winter Meetings
PHOENIX -- One by one, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers has crossed items off his offseason shopping list.

Shortstop -- check.

More depth in the bullpen -- check.

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Left-handed reliever -- check.

Deal center fielder Chris Young -- check.

"If we had to start the season now we'd be in pretty good shape," Towers said.

That doesn't mean that Towers is taking a vacation for the rest of the winter or will be spending his time lounging by the Gaylord Opryland Resort pool at the Winter Meetings next week.

"Anytime you get face time with other ballclubs it's a worthwhile process to go through and meet with teams," Towers said. "We're not going into the Winter Meetings with major holes like some organizations have right now, but I always plan to be active. I don't plan to just use those four days to sit on my hands in my room."

The D-backs still have a couple of additions they'd like to make.

With Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill and Wade Miley in the rotation -- Daniel Hudson is not expected back until mid-summer at the earliest -- the D-backs would like to add a veteran to the back end. That would give them insurance in case two young pitchers from a group that includes Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer are not able to step up and fill those rolls.

It also would allow manager Kirk Gibson to use right-hander Josh Collmenter in the spot starter/long man role.

So adding a pitcher would be nice, but not something the D-backs feel pressured to do.

The same can be said of the club's desire to improve the left side of its infield.

If the season started today, Chris Johnson would start at third while some combination of Cliff Pennington, Willie Bloomquist and John McDonald would man short.

"I'm always looking at short and third, but if we start the season where we're at I'm comfortable with that," Towers said.

With the possible exception of Japanese shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima, who toured the Arizona facilities last week, any additions the D-backs make with the shortstop situation or rotation will likely come through trade.

Towers said last week that he was in discussions with a couple of free-agent bench-type players.

"I think probably our bench probably would come via free agency," Towers said. "We'd like to improve our bench, add more experience there."

Outside of a deep farm system, the D-backs' primary trade chips are outfielders.

The outfielder who would bring the biggest return is Justin Upton, but it seems as though momentum toward dealing him has cooled somewhat in recent weeks.

Managing general partner Ken Kendrick has maintained that it is likely Upton will remain in Arizona, but Towers continues to listen to offers.

"There are people that check in and ask about him, come up with ideas, but there hasn't been anything that has really caught my attention and I think made us a better team," Towers said of trading Upton. "So I can't predict what's going to happen in Nashville, but going into Nashville we're not any closer to moving him than we were at the GM Meetings."

One of Towers' priorities in the offseason was to alleviate the overcrowding in the outfield, which he did by dealing Young to the A's for Pennington. He could thin the ranks even more.

If Upton is not dealt, the D-backs could trade either Jason Kubel or Gerardo Parra as a way to free up more outfield playing time.

Kubel was a curious sign by Towers last offseason given that it relegated Parra to the bench after he won a Gold Glove and hit .292. The added depth, though, proved valuable when Young seriously injured his shoulder in April.

"We can hang on to all of them," Towers said of his outfielders. "It would be nice to be able to create more playing time for Parra, but moving Chris Young alleviated a little bit of the problem. If we end up starting with all of them it doesn't hurt to have that depth. Last year it helped to have that, so I'm not overly concerned with having to move one of those guys."

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.

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