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D-backs accomplish goals at Winter Meetings

The Arizona Diamondbacks were due for a makeover after back-to-back seasons with more than 90 losses. That process began this week during Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings.

General Manager Kevin Towers’ “Extreme Home Team Makeover” included trading Mark Reynolds, finding his replacement at third, signing a closer, and adding two other relievers.

After the Winter Meetings were all said and done, the D-backs brought five new players home with them from Florida.

The biggest move of the meetings for the D-backs was the trade that sent third baseman Mark Reynolds to the Baltimore Orioles in exchange for right-handed relief pitchers David Hernandez and Kameron Mickolio.

Overall the deal seemed like a win for Towers’ club. By dealing Reynolds they got rid of an excessive amount of strikeouts and questionable fielding. They also saved roughly $13 million in salary over the next two seasons. By acquiring Hernandez and Mickolio the team added some young, affordable, and hard throwing relievers to a bullpen that struggled to keep leads in 2010.

To replace Reynolds, the D-backs agreed to a one-year contract worth $2 million with free agent Melvin Mora. Mora, 39, spent last season with the Colorado Rockies where he played most of his time at third base. He is versatile and can also play first base, second base and in left field.

Towers expects Mora and other free agent signing Geoff Blum to share time as starters at third base this season.

While Mora doesn’t bring the flash that Reynolds did, he is better in the field and more patient at the plate. In the last three seasons combined, Mora struck out fewer times than the man he’s replacing did in all of 2010. The move should prove to be, at the very worst, a wash.

Possibly the biggest transaction the D-backs made at the meetings was the addition of closer J.J. Putz. Putz spent 2010 as the setup man for Chicago White Sox closer Bobby Jenks. He had a 2.83 ERA with 65 strikeouts in 54 innings. His most successful season as a closer came in 2007 as a member of the Seattle Mariners. He finished the season with 40 saves and a 1.38 ERA in 71.2 innings.

The closers role was a revolving door for the Diamondbacks in 2010. Putz will bring stability at the position for the first time since the departure of Jose Valverde. He’s a big right-hander who brings some heat, topping out in the mid 90s, while being able to mix in a slider and splitter.

He should prove to be a great addition especially when you consider the fact that they got him for a financially friendly 2-year $10.5 million deal.

The one move that went under the radar during the meetings was the addition of young left-handed pitcher Joe Paterson.

Paterson was a Rule-5 Draft selection for the Diamondbacks from the San Francisco Giants organization. He had a 3.03 ERA in a little over 65 innings of work in Double-A and Triple-A in 2010. For his career he has a 2.64 ERA with 232 strikeouts in 218 innings.

Paterson, 24, is a low risk, high reward guy. He’s young and has shown the ability to perform in minors. He could prove to be a solid left-handed option out of the bullpen for the Diamondbacks. Something they lacked in 2010.

Overall, Kevin Towers and the Diamondbacks organization left the Winter Meetings accomplishing their goals. They lowered the team’s strikeout totals, added solid bullpen arms, and found a closer. It should be viewed as a successful week.

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