Free agent Mulder meets with D-backs

Mulder meets with D-backs

PHOENIX -- The D-backs took another step in their courtship of Mark Mulder on Wednesday, as they hosted the left-hander and his agents at Chase Field.

"I think it went very well," said Arizona manager Bob Melvin, who was in attendance along with general manager Josh Byrnes, assistant GM Peter Woodfork, director of player development A.J. Hinch and pitching coach Bryan Price. "We just had some lunch and got to know each other a little bit."

Mulder, who has a home in the Phoenix area, does have some D-backs connections. He was a teammate of Hinch in Oakland, has played golf with Melvin and also is familiar with new bench coach Kirk Gibson.

"We had a real nice meeting with the Diamondbacks' brass," said Mulder's agent, Gregg Clifton, who was joined by his partner Terry Bross. "It was a very enjoyable experience."

Arizona joined Texas as the only teams to meet with Mulder so far, but more are likely as Clifton said he has received interest from 13 clubs.

"I think Mark would like to make up his mind tonight," Clifton said. "Anyone would like to know where they are going to be, but he's mature enough to know he has to analyze and look at all the teams that are out there and what their offers are."

The talks with the D-backs are still in the formative stage, dealing more with what kind of contract would best fit Mulder's situation. Financial details have not yet been discussed.

There are factors other than their location that makes the D-backs attractive to Mulder.

"He's been a member of a youth movement earlier in his career in Oakland and watched it grow into a playoff team," Clifton said. "He's excited about the possibility of being a part of something similar in Arizona."

Mulder, 29, is coming off an injury-shortened season during which he went 6-7 with a 7.14 ERA. The left-hander was bothered by his shoulder throughout the year and eventually underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a rotator cuff tear in mid-September.

When he'll be able to pitch again is unclear, but according to Clifton, there were a few things that were certain.

One is that Mulder is four weeks ahead of schedule, and the southpaw will start a throwing program in early January. After that, Clifton said, it should be eight weeks before Mulder is able to throw off a mound, which would be around the first or second week of March.

"After that, there are no rules, so to speak -- no timetable," Clifton said. "How he feels will determine how he progresses."

There's been some speculation that some teams might offer Mulder an incentive-laden contract to assure themselves that he is healthy, but that could be problematic for the D-backs, who have a strict policy against including incentives in contracts.

The club is particularly against clauses that reward a player for games played or innings pitched. The D-backs showed some flexibility last winter when they negotiated a contract with free-agent outfielder Jeff DaVanon that based his player option for 2007 on active days on the roster after having some concerns about his shoulder. Whether or not they would offer something like that to Mulder is unknown.

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