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Analyst: McCarthy gives D-backs flexibility

Already with plenty of young pitching in waiting (Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin), two veterans at the top of the staff (Ian Kennedy and Trevor Cahill), a Rookie of the Year candidate (Wade Miley) and a former 16-game winner on the mend (Daniel Hudson), general manager Kevin Towers made one thing known when it came to his rotation at the MLB Winter meetings.

He wanted more.

The Arizona Diamondbacks agreed with veteran right-hander Brandon McCarthy on a two-year deal worth $15.5 on Friday, and the move without a doubt gives the team plenty of options moving forward.

Here’s what’s Keith Law had to saw on the acquisition:

McCarthy is a groundball/control guy who misses just enough bats to be an above-average starter, and he works better when he’s got a good infield defense behind him… McCarthy’s ability to sink the ball had to be appealing to the Diamondbacks given their home park’s habit of increasing home run rates, but he’ll have to be able to keep the cutter and sinker down in the zone more than he did in 2012, especially before his midyear DL stint for shoulder soreness. He’s likely to be worth 2-3 wins if he throws 160-170 innings this year.

Kevin Towers made it known on Arizona Sports 620’s Doug & Wolf Wednesday, that if the team remained in the market for a top-end shortstop — as has been rumored to be the case with the Asdrubel Cabrera — he’d be more incline to trade young pitching than outfielder Justin Upton to make the move.

As Law explained, the signing of McCarthy doesn’t just give Arizona another arm at the No. 2 or No. 3 slot in the rotation, it gives Towers more room to make a deal with young pitching as the main trade chip.

The move leaves the Diamondbacks with a modest pitching surplus that they could use to make a trade. Their Opening Day rotation includes McCarthy, Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill, and likely one of three youngsters, rookies Tyler Skaggs and Trevor Bauer and sophomore Patrick Corbin. Bauer seems to have fallen out of favor in the organization and seems the most likely to be traded, although his stock just eighteen months after he was the third overall pick in the Rule 4 Draft is probably still pretty high. Corbin’s stuff played up in his handful of relief appearances, so while he’s the most experienced and could be a fifth starter, the ideal alignment of pitchers might have Skaggs in the rotation with Corbin as a long man, ready to move into the rotation if there’s a need between Opening Day and the return of Daniel Hudson.

While a surplus does give Towers more ammunition to work with, McCarthy is coming off a season which was cut short due to an epideral hemorrhage and skull fracture he sustained when an Erick Aybar line drive hit him in the head on September 5. Although his 8-6 record with a 3.24 ERA is promising, McCarthy just began baseball activities again last month and psychologically will have an uphill battle coming back from such an unfortunate on-field injury.

Also, with Hudson not expected back until near or after the All-Star break — as he continues rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — having depth in the rotation may not be the smartest thing to sacrifice before the season even takes shape.

Either way, though, it’s a good problem to have for Towers and Co.