Insider: D-backs strike with under-the-radar moves

Feb 7, 2012, 1:05 AM | Updated: 4:06 pm

The defending NL West division champions took large
strides improving upon an already stellar lineup and solid
starting rotation this offseason.

ESPN’s Buster Olney ranked the best under-the-radar moves this winter
and a combo of D-backs’ signings landed the fourth spot on
the list.

Jason Kubel and Joe Saunders: Two years/$15 million and
one year/$6 million, respectively, Arizona Diamondbacks

Steadily, Arizona has built the most depth for any team in
the NL, and these two signings are a big part of that. The
left-handed-hitting Kubel will help balance what was a
very right-handed lineup in the playoffs last year and
allow manager Kirk Gibson to create better matchups. And
Saunders, like Edwin Jackson, is a quality starter for the
back end of what should be a good rotation.

The addition of Kubel brings tremendous depth to an
already impressive outfield trio of Gerardo Parra, Chris
Young and Justin Upton. And while Kubel’s presence will
cut into Parra’s playing time, the left-handed firepower
he’ll provide should pay dividends for the D-backs’
offensive production.

The team’s decision to bring back veteran Joe Saunders to
fill out their rotation was another understated move that
was locally lauded.

After acquiring Trevor Cahill from the Athletics, the D-
backs’ weren’t expected to bring Saunders back into the
fold. In fact, it was widely speculated that the club
would look internally to one of their highly-regarded
prospects to fight for the fifth starter’s job in camp.

However, team’s brass decided to go over budget to bring
Saunders back on a one-year deal to further bridge the gap
for their young hurlers.

With Saunders back in the mix for 2012, the D-backs have
afforded themselves a position of luxury. Their starting
rotation is arguably one of the best in the league, and
the pipeline they have to the minors is stocked with a
number of talented arms who are knocking on the door to
the Majors.

The Diamondbacks may not have brought a “big” name into
the desert this winter, but with all due respect to Albert
Pujols, Prince Fielder and Jose Reyes, they didn’t have
to.

Instead, the D-backs have quietly built upon a young
roster that is now in an even better position to blossom
and contend for the long haul. More impressively, they
didn’t shell out any albatross contracts like they have
been known to do in years past and won’t be saddled
financially for the foreseeable future.

The D-backs’ offseason moves may have flown under the
radar, but the expectations for this team in 2012 and
beyond continues to grow.

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Insider: D-backs strike with under-the-radar moves