Arizona spoke Monday night with the A's about Dan Haren and touched base with one of the agents for Japanese free-agent pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. The buzz around the lobby was that the D-backs were a serious player for Haren, who is the most sought-after pitcher in the trade market after the Twins' Johan Santana.
It's not just Haren's effectiveness on the mound that makes him so attractive to teams, it's also that he is cost-effective. Over the next two seasons, he is due salaries of $4 million and $5.5 million with a $6.75 million club option in 2010.
While no specific package was offered to the A's on Monday, the two teams did discuss quite a few names.
"I think it's the time of the offseason where you're starting to get more specific about players and if [trades] will work out," D-backs GM Josh Byrnes said. "We talked about a lot of names. I don't think we assessed the balance of who's in and who's not, but like I said, I think [there was] a little more specificity to it. I think it's that time of year where you don't want to waste a lot of time. If the gap is fairly sizable, I think it's time to redirect your energies."
The gap between the D-backs and A's must not be too sizable, as they will continue to discuss a Haren deal. The thinking is that Oakland will wait until the Santana sweepstakes is settled before dealing Haren.
A lot of names were discussed in Arizona's meeting with the A's on Monday, but contrary to some published reports, first baseman Conor Jackson's was not one of them.
"Never brought up," a source said of Jackson.
While the A's might have inquired about pitching prospect Max Scherzer, the D-backs are not willing to part with him, and Arizona does not seem very interested in Joe Blanton, a pitcher the A's are also rumored to be shopping.
A's general manager Billy Beane insisted on Tuesday that he didn't come to the Winter Meetings to move Haren or Blanton.
"There's a difference between actively listening and wanting to move someone," Beane said.
When asked if he would have to be blown away by an offer in order to deal Haren he replied, "Absolutely."
When asked if he had been blown away yet he said, "No."
Meanwhile, it appears that despite some published reports, the Mariners have not increased their initial offer to Kuroda to four years. The D-backs, Dodgers and Mariners have all reportedly offered three-year deals around $30 million, and it's possible that the first team to offer a fourth year will get the right-hander.
Byrnes spoke with one of Kuroda's agents on Monday night.
Not a match: The Rangers have had interest in Arizona outfield prospect Carlos Gonzalez for the better part of a year and inquired about him again this week. The talks went nowhere though, when the D-backs asked for Rangers top pitching prospect Eric Hurley in return.
Montero and the Nats: In their quest for catching help, the Nationals are apparently looking at current and former Diamondbacks players.
Washington is interested in Johnny Estrada, who played for Arizona in 2006. Also, the Nats are interested in Miguel Montero, who split time behind the plate with Chris Snyder in 2007. The D-backs might be willing to part with Montero, but it's not known if the two sides have discussed the deal or if they will be able to find a match.
Montero became somewhat expendable when fellow catcher Chris Snyder emerged at the plate during the season's second half.
"We have two very good young catchers, and both of them probably could be starting somewhere," D-backs manager Bob Melvin said. "So, you know, Snyder did obviously quite a bit last year to thrust himself into a starting role. Yet you don't want a Miguel Montero sitting around and getting 80 at-bats or 100 at-bats being strictly a backup. So we will mix and match with the group, but I think going in, you would have to consider Snyder the starter."
Simply the best: D-backs pitching coach Bryan Price was named Coach of the Year by Baseball America.
"It's a tremendous honor," said Price, who flew into town with his wife, Judy, to accept the award.
"There's a lot of good coaches in baseball, real good coaches in baseball, and to be able to be singled out as one is very impressive and well deserved," Melvin said.
Steve Gilbert is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.