NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The first day of the Winter Meetings ended with Justin Upton still a member of the D-backs. In fact, Kevin Towers said Upton wasn't the player most inquired about during the general manager's eight or nine meetings with other teams on Monday. Of course, Towers would not say which name came up the most, but it is known that the D-backs have entertained the notion of trading outfielder Jason Kubel to free up playing time for Gerardo Parra, whom the club feels is a better fit.
Towers said it was too early to tell if the D-backs would be able to get any moves done during the Meetings. "I wouldn't say we're on the verge of making a trade right now by any means, but we've talked to a lot of clubs and plan on talking to even more," Towers said. The Rangers are still the most-talked-about landing spot for Upton, but the D-backs have their sights set on getting either shortstop Elvis Andrus or top prospect Jurickson Profar in return, and Texas does not want to part with either. "I would say it's no different than it has been," Towers said when asked about Upton trade talks. "We still value him a great deal; we like him a great deal. People continue to ask about him and we still haven't made a deal, so evidently we still value the guy probably more so than other clubs." The D-backs maintain that they do not feel an urgency to deal Upton, or anyone else for that matter, and they would be comfortable starting the season with their current roster. The lone exception to that is the need for a backup catcher after the club declined an option on Henry Blanco and non-tendered Wil Nieves. Interestingly, Towers said both players are possibilities to return, but that the team did not want to exercise Blanco's option before seeing what else was available. In the case of Nieves, the club felt his arbitration number was too high. The D-backs ideally would like a right-handed hitter whose strength is on defense, and they will explore all avenues to fill the backup spot, including Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. While there was speculation that the D-backs did not bring Blanco back because they wanted someone who could physically handle the grind of catching on an everyday basis should starter Miguel Montero go down, Towers said that was not the case. "We anticipate Miggy to hopefully play 130 to 140 games again and if we went down and had to scramble at that time to find more of a full-time everyday guy we would," Towers said. The D-backs continue to explore adding a pitcher to the rotation. They've talked to free agent Brandon McCarthy, but there are a lot of teams that have expressed interest in him and he might end up getting a better offer elsewhere. Other than McCarthy, the free-agent market does not appear to be a good match for the D-backs right now, given the inflated prices. "To me, it seems like some of the second-tier guys are kind of starting to be viewed as first-tier-type guys and being paid like first-tier guys, and I don't think we're willing to go there," Towers said. "That's why we're not talking to a lot of free agents in the way of pitching." Towers also made it clear that he's not interested in acquiring a back-of-the-rotation-type pitcher, but rather someone more in the mold of Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill. If one is not available, the D-backs would just as soon let young pitchers like Patrick Corbin, Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs have their shot. "You look at the rest of the division, especially the teams that finished in front of us, they're more experienced, more veteran type clubs," Towers said. "You win with pitching so if we're able to address that and add somebody which creates more depth with our young pitching, great. If we don't, we're not going to sacrifice any of our real good prospects unless it's for the right starting pitcher."