Multiple reliable sources report that the the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to one-year deals with backup catcher Henry Blanco and veteran fielder Xavier Nady. The deals for both players are expected to become official later today once the players complete their physicals.
Nady, who played for Diamondback GM Kevin Towers with the San Diego Padres, had some very effective years at the plate. In 2008 with the Pirates and Yankees, Nady hit .303 and had 97 RBI. Last season with the Cubs, Nady had dropped to just .256 with 33 RBI in 347 plate appearances while recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery performed in July 2009.
Nady is a contact-hitting right-handed bat that can play left field or first base, both positions of need on the roster. The team certainly is hoping that he can have a bounce-back season in Arizona like Adam LaRoche and Kelly Johnson, who both increased their offensive production after coming to the desert. Nady will likely share time in left field with Gerardo Parra and could also play first base along with Juan Miranda and Brandon Allen. Nady will reportedly make $1.75 million, plus possibly up to another million in incentives.
Blanco, as previously stated, will give the Diamondbacks a veteran back-up catcher with good defensive skills and a reputation for dealing well with pitching staffs. With the young D-backs rotation, along with the relatively inexperienced Miguel Montero behind the plate, Blanco's presence and winning experience was surely a big reason he was signed.
With these moves, the Diamondbacks are reportedly finished with their radical offseason makeover. They will have new players at first and third base replacing the strikeout-prone Mark Reynold and Adam LaRoche and have added lefty Zach Duke to the starting rotation. The biggest shake up, as expected and needed, came in the bullpen with the additions of closer J.J. Putz, and setup men David Fernandez and Kam Mickolio.
First and third base will not produce the power hitting the Diamondbacks were used to, but they also shouldn't kill so many rallies with their strikeouts. In fact, besides Chris Young and Justin Upton, there is very little pop in the order with the focus instead being on improved pitching.
Perhaps if this team gets off to a good start, they can keep their eyes out for a power right-handed bat to play in left or one of the corner infield positions, but they obviously weren't willing to break the bank on any of the available free agents this winter. After Paul Konerko turned down the D-backs' three-year, $30 million offer to take more money from the White Sox, there weren't any other good options available. They certainly weren't going to be in the market for Carl Crawford ($142 million) or Jayson Werth ($126 million).
This is by no means a roster that will move the D-backs into immediate contention, but it at least has the potential to be better than last year's disappointing squad. Kirk Gibson has promised to remake the culture of the clubhouse and has infused more veteran players like Mike Hampton, Melvin Mora and Blanco to give the team more of a competitive edge.
One thing's for sure, this is Gibson and Tower's team now.
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