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Webb eyes free agency if option declined

Webb eyes free agency if option declined

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PHOENIX -- If the D-backs do not intend to pick up his option for next season, right-hander Brandon Webb said he will test the free-agent market.

The D-backs hold an $8.5 million option on Webb for next year and will owe him $2 million should they choose not to exercise the option.

"I have not heard it from the horse's mouth, but there's been a lot of speculation about them coming to me and trying to work out a deal with an option and incentives and stuff like that," Webb said. "And everybody keeps asking me if I'd be interested if they did that, and basically no, I'm not interested in doing that."

While saying that his first choice is to remain in Arizona, Webb thinks it would be in his best interests to see what else is out there unless the D-backs are going to pick up the option.

Webb has not pitched since Opening Day due to a shoulder injury that required surgery in August. He is expected to be ready to pitch in time for Spring Training.

There has been speculation that the D-backs could offer Webb an incentive-based deal, but they have a team policy against doing so and do not seem inclined to change it. They have included "roster bonuses" in some contracts, which reward a player for being on the active roster -- in other words, healthy.

The D-backs have within five days after the conclusion of the World Series to decide whether to exercise the option. Webb should be able to be playing catch by that time, but will all but certainly not be throwing off a mound or to hitters.

"It makes it a very difficult situation for everybody," D-backs manager A.J. Hinch said.

Certainly from a manager's perspective, Hinch would like to have Webb and Dan Haren at the top of the rotation in 2010. The D-backs will already have spots to fill in the rotation with the departure of Jon Garland via trade last month and the impending free agency of Doug Davis.

"If Brandon Webb is healthy, obviously he can help our club," Hinch said. "It would be a major boost for everything from morale to belief in what we can become to just a will to win every time he's on the mound. That's going to be a huge focus early in the offseason as to what's going to happen with him."

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

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