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Creativity will help D-backs move at Meetings

GM Hazen keeping payroll in mind in search for additional pieces
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Winter Meetings open here Monday, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen will continue to work at improving the roster of a team that made the postseason this year for the first time since 2011.

So far this offseason, the D-backs have added to their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays and claiming lefty Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, but they will look to do more.

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As the Winter Meetings open here Monday, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen will continue to work at improving the roster of a team that made the postseason this year for the first time since 2011.

So far this offseason, the D-backs have added to their bullpen by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays and claiming lefty Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox, but they will look to do more.

Among Arizona's priorities will be to add more bullpen arms, find a catcher and add some outfield depth.

Hazen takes to-do list to Winter Meetings

The D-backs used a three-headed approach to their catching situation in 2017 with Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and Chris Iannetta, and they hoped to bring back all three.

However, Iannetta signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Rockies on Friday, leaving Arizona with just Mathis, Herrmann and John Ryan Murphy as catchers on their 40-man roster.

That the Rockies were able to outbid the D-backs for Iannetta is not surprising. In returning just about all of the key pieces of their 93-win team from a year ago, minus J.D. Martinez and Iannetta, the D-backs are looking at a payroll of around $115 million, which would be a franchise record.

• D-backs made Max gamble at 2009 Meetings

Video: D-backs' chances of re-signing J.D. Martinez

If Hazen wants to continue adding pieces, he'll have to get creative, for instance taking a flier on Owens, who was once regarded as a top prospect in Boston, or working a trade that doesn't involve taking a big contract in return.

Will Hazen be able to make any deals at the Meetings, which run through Thursday morning's Rule 5 Draft? Stay tuned to dbacks.com where we will have you covered. Hazen will sit down with the media each evening, and we'll keep you posted on what he has to say.

Hot Stove Tracker

In addition, D-backs manager Torey Lovullo will hold a news conference on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. MT. How does Lovullo intend to reconfigure his lineup with the expected departure of Martinez? What roles will Archie Bradley and Boxberger fill in the bullpen? We'll be sure to ask him those questions.

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below. I'll also try to answer questions via Twitter at @stevegilbertMLB, so please give me a follow.

With Shohei Ohtani signed and the trade of Giancarlo Stanton just waiting on a physical, the Hot Stove figures to heat up this week. Make sure you stay tuned.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs made Max gamble at 2009 Meetings

Club won division in '11 behind Kennedy, Hudson, but gave up future Cy Young Award winner
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Josh Byrnes, who was then general manager of the D-backs, called then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to inquire about right-hander Edwin Jackson.

The two had trouble finding an exact trade matchup, so they brought in Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

PHOENIX -- Just before Thanksgiving of 2009, Josh Byrnes, who was then general manager of the D-backs, called then-Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski to inquire about right-hander Edwin Jackson.

The two had trouble finding an exact trade matchup, so they brought in Yankees GM Brian Cashman.

Finally, at the Winter Meetings the following month, the three men got together in one room and worked out a blockbuster trade.

The D-backs received right-hander Ian Kennedy from the Yankees and Jackson from the Tigers. The D-backs sent right-hander Max Scherzer and left-hander Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers. The Yankees sent lefty Phil Coke and outfielder Austin Jackson to the Tigers, while Detroit sent outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees.

• 2017 Winter Meetings preview: D-backs target depth in 'pen, outfield

It was an old-fashioned baseball trade, and looking at it from the D-backs' side of things, you can see how the perception of the trade shifted over the years.

The D-backs received some initial criticism for dealing Scherzer, who was their No. 1 pick in 2006 and had rocketed through their system. Still, the organization had some concerns about his ability to stay healthy, especially with his violent delivery, and be successful long term as a starter.

"For us to enter into any trade like that and give up Max Scherzer, who is a very talented young starter, we feel like we needed to bring in two starters back," Byrnes said at the time.

Initially, it looked bad for the D-backs.

The 2010 season was not a good one in Arizona. The team struggled and Byrnes and manager A.J. Hinch were dismissed on July 1.

Jackson, in particular, had a rough year, and despite throwing a 149-pitch no-hitter in June, he had a 5.16 ERA when interim GM Jerry Dipoto traded him to the White Sox prior to the Trade Deadline.

By the end of 2011, though, the trade seemed to tilt a bit in the D-backs' favor.

After a good year in 2010, Kennedy was the team's ace in 2011, going 21-4 and compiling a 137 ERA+. One of the pitchers the D-backs got in return for Jackson, Daniel Hudson, went 7-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 11 starts in 2010 and won 16 games in 2011.

With Kennedy and Hudson at the top of the rotation, the D-backs won the National League West Division.

"[Kennedy] had a history of success in college and in the Minors and even initially in the big leagues and we saw him coming off the aneurism," Byrnes said towards the end of the 2011 season. "He looked healthy and had added the cutter, so we thought he had four very solid pitches and good command. We thought he was a solid Major League pitcher. He's probably turned out better than we expected, but we certainly felt we were getting a good pitcher."

That season would be Kennedy's high-water mark in the big leagues, though he was still a very valuable pitcher over the next two seasons before being traded. In three-and-a-half years with the D-backs, Kennedy made 119 starts and compiled a 3.82 ERA.

Video: SF@ARI: Kennedy outduels Lincecum in D-backs' opener

Of course, Scherzer modified his delivery somewhat, and by 2013 he was an elite pitcher, winning the American League Cy Young Award. He followed that up with another outstanding year in '14 and then cashed in with a seven-year, $210 million free agent deal with the Nationals.

Would the D-backs have been better off with Scherzer instead of Kennedy and Hudson? Perhaps, but while Scherzer was clearly the best player in that trade and the Tigers may have come out winners in the long run, it isn't quite as cut and dried.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs claim left-hander Owens off waivers

MLB.com

The D-backs claimed left-hander Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox on Friday.

The 25-year-old went 60-42 with a 3.49 ERA over six Minor League seasons. In 2014, Owens was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

The D-backs claimed left-hander Henry Owens off waivers from the Red Sox on Friday.

The 25-year-old went 60-42 with a 3.49 ERA over six Minor League seasons. In 2014, Owens was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year after going 17-5 with a 2.94 ERA.

During his time with Boston, Owens went 4-6 with a 5.19 ERA in 16 Major League starts from 2015-16.

In '17, Owens combined to go 7-11 with a 4.21 ERA with Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket.

Owens was selected by the Red Sox with the 36th pick in the 2011 Draft.

Quinn Roberts is a reporter for MLB.com.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Henry Owens

Inbox: Who will be D-backs' closer in 2018?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers fans' questions
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

What's your take on the back end of the D-backs' bullpen? Is Archie Bradley the answer at closer? There are some high-quality closers available on the open market. Do you see the team having the financial flexibility to land one and keep Archie in the high-leverage spot he serviced so superbly in 2017?
-- Ryan, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I would be very surprised if they spent a lot of money on a closer. As it stands now, Bradley could be used in a closer's role or in high-leverage situations (such as the Indians' Andrew Miller), with Brad Boxberger closing. If the D-backs are able to find an affordable closer via trade, or if one falls to them in the free-agent market like Fernando Rodney did last year, then they still have the flexibility to use Boxberger and Bradley in different roles. Keep in mind one of the reasons Rodney signed with the D-backs last year is because they were able to tell him that he was going to be their closer. They could do that again this year, which is why GM Mike Hazen talks about wanting to have "flexibility" in building the bullpen.

What's your take on the back end of the D-backs' bullpen? Is Archie Bradley the answer at closer? There are some high-quality closers available on the open market. Do you see the team having the financial flexibility to land one and keep Archie in the high-leverage spot he serviced so superbly in 2017?
-- Ryan, Scottsdale, Ariz.

I would be very surprised if they spent a lot of money on a closer. As it stands now, Bradley could be used in a closer's role or in high-leverage situations (such as the Indians' Andrew Miller), with Brad Boxberger closing. If the D-backs are able to find an affordable closer via trade, or if one falls to them in the free-agent market like Fernando Rodney did last year, then they still have the flexibility to use Boxberger and Bradley in different roles. Keep in mind one of the reasons Rodney signed with the D-backs last year is because they were able to tell him that he was going to be their closer. They could do that again this year, which is why GM Mike Hazen talks about wanting to have "flexibility" in building the bullpen.

:: Submit a question to the D-backs Inbox ::

What are the chances of J.D. Martinez returning?
-- Laura Marie, Aurora, Ill.

My opinion on this has not changed. I don't see any way they can fit Martinez into their payroll structure if he gets the $200 million deal that he is reportedly seeking. They would love to have his bat, but given the payroll situation, I don't see it happening.

What are the realistic solutions to the hole J.D. leaves in the D-backs' lineup?
-- Kyle, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Yasmany Tomas is expected to be healthy after missing most of last season, and he will get some of those at-bats. The D-backs will probably look to trade for a controllable outfielder this offseason, but obviously replacing the prodigious production Martinez provided last year will be extremely difficult.

What's the possibility of trading Paul Goldschmidt?
-- Matt, Phoenix

Less than zero percent. No, seriously, I can't see that happening. I know Goldschmidt would bring a huge return, but it doesn't make sense for a team that is planning on contending in 2018 to trade away its cornerstone player. If the D-backs were stripping down the roster and doing a complete rebuild, that's a different story. But that's clearly not where they're at.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs re-sign McFarland to 1-year deal

Lefty was free agent after club non-tendered him
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed left-hander T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal Wednesday, just days after not tendering him a contract.

By not tendering a contract, the D-backs avoided a possible salary-arbitration hearing with McFarland, who was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $1 million through that process, and he became a free agent.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs signed left-hander T.J. McFarland to a one-year deal Wednesday, just days after not tendering him a contract.

By not tendering a contract, the D-backs avoided a possible salary-arbitration hearing with McFarland, who was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to earn $1 million through that process, and he became a free agent.

McFarland's deal, according to AZcentral.com, is for $850,000 plus the opportunity to earn another $350,000 in bonuses.

Hot Stove Tracker

McFarland was 4-5 with a 5.33 ERA in 43 games (one start) for the D-backs this past year. Those numbers were inflated by the seven runs he gave up in one-third of an inning in his lone start of the year and six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings against the Cubs.

Tweet from @Dbacks: #Dbacks agree to terms with LHP T.J. McFarland on a 1-year contract.In 2017, @66TJMac limited left-handed hitters to a .222 average & a .548 OPS in a career-high 43 appearances. pic.twitter.com/ZV70SCAHdz

In addition to re-signing McFarland, the D-backs also announced their Minor League team staffs for 2018.

Greg Gross will return for his second season as manager of Triple-A Reno with Jason Camilli joining his staff as hitting coach.

Shelley Duncan, who managed Class A Advanced Visalia last year, will jump to Double-A Jackson to replace J.R. House, who is taking over as the organization's field and catching coordinator.

Joe Mather, who coached at Jackson last year, will take over for Duncan in Visalia.

Blake Lalli will take over as manager of Class A Kane County, and Darrin Garner will be in his first season as manager of the team's rookie Arizona League entry.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, T.J. McFarland

Hazen takes to-do list to Winter Meetings

D-backs' GM built postseason club in first year at helm
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- Few general managers had a better offseason last year than the D-backs' Mike Hazen.

Having been hired to take over a 69-93 club, Hazen would have been forgiven for dismantling the team and starting a complete rebuild. Instead, he decided to give the core group of players another chance and simply added a few important parts to the mix.

PHOENIX -- Few general managers had a better offseason last year than the D-backs' Mike Hazen.

Having been hired to take over a 69-93 club, Hazen would have been forgiven for dismantling the team and starting a complete rebuild. Instead, he decided to give the core group of players another chance and simply added a few important parts to the mix.

The result was a 93-69 campaign and the organization's first postseason berth since 2011.

The free-agent and trade markets have been slow to develop this offseason, but that could change Sunday when the Winter Meetings open in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.

Hot Stove Tracker

Hazen has already added to the team's bullpen depth by trading for right-hander Brad Boxberger, but the D-backs certainly have more on their to-do list.

Video: Gilbert on D-backs acquiring Boxberger in trade

Club needs

Bullpen: The Boxberger pickup was the first move to shore up the bullpen, and it likely will not be the last. The D-backs are not planning on spending big money on the bullpen, but like last offseason, they will be on the lookout for any bargains (like Fernando Rodney) that might present themselves. This past year, the D-backs had success with non-roster invites like J.J. Hoover and T.J. McFarland -- who was re-signed for 2018 -- and the club will look to repeat that this year.

Outfield: With the all-but-certain departure of free agent J.D. Martinez, the D-backs will be looking to add some depth in the outfield. Even if Yasmany Tomas returns healthy and joins center fielder A.J. Pollock and right fielder David Peralta in the starting lineup, the D-backs would like to add competition for Rey Fuentes and Socrates Brito this spring.

Catcher: The D-backs used a three-man rotation of backstops in 2017 -- Jeff Mathis, Chris Iannetta and Chris Herrmann. Mathis returns for the second year of his two-year deal, and Herrmann is eligible for salary arbitration and was tendered a contract, but Iannetta is a free agent. The D-backs have strong interest in having Iannetta return, but it's going to cost them more than the $1.5 million bargain they got him for last offseason.

Who they can trade if necessary

Brandon Drury: The D-backs have a surplus of middle infielders, especially if Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed both recover as expected from season-ending injuries. Ketel Marte opened eyes with the way he played while filling in at shortstop over the final two months of the season, and if the club wants him to remain in the lineup, they might look at moving Drury. As a player not yet eligible for arbitration and someone who has shown he can hit at the big league level, Drury would figure to be a very attractive trade chip if the D-backs decide to deal him.

Video: ARI@LAD Gm2: Drury's hardest-hit HR

Another of the infielders: If they decide to hang on to Drury, that could make one of the other infielders expendable. Drury is a natural third baseman, so he could replace Jake Lamb if the D-backs looked to deal him, but that would seem unlikely given the tremendous left-handed production Lamb has provided early in his career.

Top prospects

Per MLBPipeline.com, the D-backs' top 10 prospects are first baseman Pavin Smith, right-hander Jon Duplantier, right-hander Taylor Clarke, left-hander Anthony Banda, infielder Drew Ellis, infielder Domingo Leyba, shortstop Jasrado Chisholm, outfielder Marcus Wilson, right-hander Matt Tabor and Brito.

Banda, Clarke and Duplantier all could see time in the big leagues in 2018, while some of the others are further away. In his year-plus at the helm, Hazen has done a nice job balancing the present with the future. He has traded away prospects when needed, but he is also trying to make sure the farm system will serve as a consistent pipeline.

Rule 5 Draft

The D-backs took a chance on right-hander Tyler Jones in last year's Rule 5 Draft but ended up returning him to the Yankees when he did not make the bullpen out of Spring Training. The D-backs have room on their roster should they opt to make a selection this year, but with plans on contending in 2018, that's no guarantee.

Big contracts they might unload

The D-backs only have two big contracts on the books right now -- right-hander Zack Greinke and Tomas -- and it seems very unlikely that either will get dealt this winter.

Although clearing the remaining four years of Greinke's six-year, $206.5 million deal seems enticing, there are a couple of major hurdles. First, it won't be easy to do without eating a lot of it, and second, if the team plans on being competitive in 2018, trading away its ace who pitched very well this past year is probably not in its best interest.

Payroll summary

A whopping 13 players are set to earn raises via arbitration, and they could cost the D-backs more than $50 million according to projections by MLBTradeRumors.com. Add that to the $60 million that's already committed to players under contract -- not to mention the pre-arbitration players -- and the D-backs could have a franchise-record payroll.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects for 2018

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

For the first time in three years, the top spot on MLBPipeline.com's early Draft Top 50 list is not occupied by a high school pitcher. It should come as no surprise that the top guy is still a pitcher, and one from the 2017 College World Series champion Florida Gators. Right-hander Brady Singer, who helped pitch them to that title as a sophomore, is the clear choice as the best overall talent in the 2018 Draft class, which some think could be the best since 2011.

It's nothing new to see one of Florida's starting pitchers head into a new season as a potential No. 1 overall pick. Lefty A.J. Puk was No. 2 on the 2016 list behind high school left-hander Jay Groome. He ended up going No. 6 overall that June. A year ago, Gators right-hander Alex Faedo came in at No. 4 on the Top 50 led by prep phenom Hunter Greene. He ended up going No. 18 overall to the Tigers, who have the No. 1 pick in 2018. While Puk and Faedo were obviously highly regarded, scouts do feel Singer's all-around game on the mound gives him a better chance to stay in that 1-1 conversation.

Top Draft Prospects

"There's less things that can go wrong," one National League scouting director said. "I can't see him coming out and 'laying an egg,' so to speak. He's a little more of a pitcher, when they were more power guys."

While the list doesn't have a high schooler at No. 1, it does have a ton of high-end prep pitching on it, starting at No. 2 with Ethan Hankins. The Atlanta area standout had a very impressive summer and is armed with the best fastball in the Top 50. He might not be atop the list, but that doesn't mean he doesn't belong in the same class as Groome and Greene, who went No. 12 and No. 2 in their respective Drafts.

"He's right up there," the scouting director said. "He's very, very impressive. He has size, strength and stuff. What Hunter had over him, he could do it as a position player, so you knew that when he gives that up, there might be more to come. But he's right up there with the better high school kids I've seen in the last couple of years."

2018 Draft order | 2018 Draft: June 4-6 | All-time Draft picks

The top high school bat comes in at No. 4 on the list in the form of Phoenix-area infielder Nolan Gorman. His raw power was on display for much of the summer as he stood out in multiple elite-level home run derbies, with the ability to drive the ball also showing up in games. Nick Madrigal is the top college position player on the list, coming in at No. 11. He's undersized, but that doesn't seem to matter as much these days, and the Oregon State infielder has a strong track record and perhaps the best hit tool in the class.

Video: Draft Report: Nick Madrigal, College 2B/SS

College hitters are often hard to come by, especially this early, but scouts are encouraged that there seems to be more advanced bats to consider in the first round than usual. Given that college performers tend to float up as the Draft nears, seeing Madrigal or some of the others on this Top 50 land in the top 10 seems very feasible.

"I think I like the list this year more than last year," the scouting director said. "I like the depth. There's college pitching, if you're at the top. I think there are some college position players. Who were the college players last year at the top? There's very good high school pitching. I think it's deeper all the way around."

Class breakdown

It's a fairly even split in this year's Top 50, with 26 high schoolers and 24 from the college ranks. It's split right down the middle at the top, with the top 10 filled with five college players and five prepsters. While it is pitching heavy at the top, with seven of the top 10 on the mound, there are more bats to be found later on. That speaks to the aforementioned depth. There might not be a college bat in the top 10, but there are five in the 11-20 range -- led by Madrigal at No. 11 -- and no one would be surprised to see some of them end up in the top 10 once the Draft rolls around.

In total, there are a dozen college hitters in the Top 50, up from eight a year ago. The 12 college pitchers on the list, five in the top 10, is down a touch from 15 on our 2017 Top 50. Of the 26 high schoolers, half are pitchers. High school right-handers are a particular strength in this class, with 11 in this Top 50. The complete positional breakdown of this list is as a follows:

RHP: 18
OF: 11
LHP: 7
SS: 4
1B: 3
3B: 3
C: 3
2B: 1

Top tools

All players, as always, are given grades on the 20-to-80 scouting scale for all tools or pitches. These are future grades, a reflection of what the scouting industry thinks each of these amateur players can become in the future. Here are the top grades for each tool and pitch.

Position players
Hit: 60 - Nick Madrigal, 2B/SS, Oregon State, Jarred Kelenic, OF, Waukesha (Wis.) West HS
Power: 60 - Nolan Gorman, O'Connor HS (Phoenix)
Run: 70 - Xavier Edwards, SS, North Broward Prep (Coconut Creek, Fla.), Connor Scott, OF, Plant HS (Tampa, Fla.)
Arm: 70 - Joe Gray Jr., OF, Hatiesburg (Miss.) HS, Will Banfield, C, Brookwood HS (Snellville, Ga.)
Field: 60 - Mike Siani, OF, William Penn Charter (Philadelphia), Alek Thomas, OF, Mount Carmel HS (Chicago)

Pitchers
Fastball: 80 - Ethan Hankins, RHP, Forsyth Central HS (Cumming, Ga.)
Curveball: 65 - Tim Cate, LHP, Connecticut
Slider: 65 - Brady Singer, RHP, Florida
Changeup: 65 - Steven Gingery, LHP, Texas Tech
Control: 60 - Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLBPipeline.com. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

D-backs' Hall shaves beard in fight vs. cancer

MLB.com @boomskie

PHOENIX -- It's been a year since D-backs president Derrick Hall and advisor Luis Gonzalez had their graying beards shaved because of the fight against cancer.

Many men in the D-backs front office grow their beards during the month of November. Friday morning was their third annual shave off, sponsored by the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Dignity Health, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The D-backs donated $35,000 to find a cure.

PHOENIX -- It's been a year since D-backs president Derrick Hall and advisor Luis Gonzalez had their graying beards shaved because of the fight against cancer.

Many men in the D-backs front office grow their beards during the month of November. Friday morning was their third annual shave off, sponsored by the University of Arizona Cancer Center and Dignity Health, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center. The D-backs donated $35,000 to find a cure.

The D-backs have been particularly plagued by many forms of the disease, and the past 365 calendar days haven't been that kind to their family. Hall is a prostate cancer survivor and said Friday that his PSA (prostate-specific antigen) level is again elevated. Hall's wife, Amy, continues to battle triple-negative breast cancer.

Tweet from @DignityHealthAZ: #Repost @supportstjosephs (@get_repost)���������We���re here at UA Cancer Center with our friends Derrick Hall and Luis Gonzo Gonzales @Dbacks and they are itching to get a clean shave, culminating our month long Let Your Humankindness Grow campaign. Than��� https://t.co/daxuVwAVtQ pic.twitter.com/7G1Fj5M7U4

And in the last year, former D-backs and Padres general manager Kevin Towers was diagnosed with a particularly virulent and rare form of thyroid cancer that has consumed his day-to-day life.

Hall learned he had prostate cancer in 2011 and almost immediately underwent invasive surgery that revealed the disease had spread further than tests had indicated. Just as he was beginning to recover from that ordeal, his father, Larry, lost a three-year battle to pancreatic cancer at the age of 68.

Hall's wife, Amy, discovered a mass in her breast early last year and had two extended cycles of chemotherapy to shrink the tumor and one of radiation therapy sandwiched around surgery. She's now in a clinical trial based in Kansas City, taking an experimental vaccination once a month that was developed in the hope of staving off a recurrence of the disease, Hall said.

"This [event] is timely for me," Hall said. "We talk about the ups and downs of our survival. I just took a blood test over the last month and my [PSA] numbers are trickling up again. There's been some suggestion that I should go back for radiation, but we're going to wait and see.

"Amy went through a lot more than I did. She's a champ. Her positive outlook is part of it. I have to keep an eye on it, but that's what this is all about. It's very important for us all to get that detection early if cancer is there."

D-backs managing general partner Ken Kendrick is also a prostate cancer survivor and has been in remission for many years. But the cancer that's plaguing Towers came as a shock to Hall and many in the baseball world who have followed his progress.

Towers was the D-backs' general manager from 2010-14 after a 16-year tenure with the Padres in the same job that ended in 2009. His teams won five National League West titles -- including with the D-backs in 2011 -- and the 1998 Padres were swept by the Yankees in the World Series.

Hall said he talks frequently to the 56-year-old former Minor League pitcher known as K.T., who's back in San Diego with his wife, Kelley, also a two-time breast cancer survivor.

"I hear he looks a lot better. He had lost a lot of weight, but he's gained some of that back," Hall said. "I try to talk to him at least once a month to catch up to see how he's doing. That cancer he has is a unique and aggressive one."

Towers was diagnosed with anaplastic thyroid cancer only last December after the Winter Meetings. He had trouble breathing, an initial symptom of the disease, which is so rare it afflicts only 600 patients in the U.S. annually, according to the Thyroid Cancer Survivors' Association.

Its detection comes late, and by that time, the cancerous cells have already spread, which happened in Towers' case. It is resistant to known remedies for cancer, chemo and radiation therapy, and has no known source or cure.

Towers has prevailed for months taking huge doses of chemo both orally and intravenously just to ward off the cancer's spread. He also was able to qualify for a clinical trial for a drug that helped arrest the disease, at least for a while, allowing him to regain some strength and weight.

"It's almost like pancreatic cancer," Hall said. "You really can't discover it until it's there. It's brutal."

Towers' friends in the game and media had been asked to respect his privacy as he battled the disease. But Astros manager A.J. Hinch made it public last month during the fifth inning of Game 4 of the World Series in Houston. As the crowd at Minute Maid Park stood for a moment honoring victims for Stand Up to Cancer, Hinch held up a placard with Towers' name on it.

"He means a lot to me," Hinch said that night after the game. "He means a lot to the people within the game for many, many years. He's done everything in the game. I wanted to put someone on there that was a baseball person that has resonated across the game at so many levels for so many years, and we just keep rooting for K.T. to have a recovery."

The only way to face cancer is head on, which Hall knows. Last year, as he embarked on the beard challenge, he revealed that he was facing elevated PSA levels. But during the course of this year, those levels evened out. It has been Hall's ongoing cycle in the nearly seven years since he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Not particularly early, but early enough.

"We'll know in about three months what to do," he said. "I should be in the clear because it's been six years. And usually they say the five-year mark is what you want to get to. We're beyond that, but we're still encouraged. Nothing is out of whack too bad."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Hall steals show as D-backs honor partners

Club president entertains at event for corporate teammates
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- Torey Lovullo did not know what to expect last year, when the D-backs' newly hired manager attended the team's annual Most Valuable Partner Awards event, hosted by team president and CEO Derrick Hall.

"It was my first one, and I was like, 'Whoa,'" Lovullo said. "Derrick does such a great job with it, and what's great is that it gives us a chance to mingle with the partners and help them to really feel like they're part of our team, which they are. I don't know of another organization that does it like this."

PHOENIX -- Torey Lovullo did not know what to expect last year, when the D-backs' newly hired manager attended the team's annual Most Valuable Partner Awards event, hosted by team president and CEO Derrick Hall.

"It was my first one, and I was like, 'Whoa,'" Lovullo said. "Derrick does such a great job with it, and what's great is that it gives us a chance to mingle with the partners and help them to really feel like they're part of our team, which they are. I don't know of another organization that does it like this."

Hall opened the show, which was called "Not Quite Late Night with Derrick Hall" with a monologue that had the corporate partners and season ticket holders in attendance at the Wild Horse Pass Hotel and Casino literally laughing out loud Thursday night.

"Derrick is really good at it," D-backs shortstop Chris Owings said. "He is so creative and comes up with some great stuff every year that I've been here."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Turning two. @cowings5 and @DanielDescalso looking 💯 chopping it up with @DHallDbacks. #DbacksMVP pic.twitter.com/xBm0RNY14o

Owings was joined by teammates Daniel Descalso, Patrick Corbin, Jimmie Sherfy and Braden Shipley as well as former D-backs players Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez and Willie Bloomquist.

The players took part in on-stage contests with some of the partners and also participated in the handing out of the awards.

There was also a video of Hall dressed as both TV play-by-play man Steve Berthiaume and analyst Bob Brenly imitating the way the pair would have called this year's Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Tweet from @Dbacks: Jimmie Sherfy, @PatrickCorbin46, and @shipley25 teamed up with partners for some friendly competition. 😂Shipley and Steve Wagner from @RamTrucks completed the clean sweep! pic.twitter.com/DsVrgw1H8F

"They're always a lot of fun," Corbin said. "It's a good time, and it's a good way to say thank you to the people who support the organization."

And while the event is lighthearted, its purpose of thanking the team's most important corporate partners -- 12 that have been with the team since the inaugural season in 1998 -- is serious.

"The event continues to be a success because of the excitement and participation of our corporate partners, players, coaches and talented employees," Hall said. "It's truly one-of-a-kind in the industry and has become a calendar placeholder each and every year."

Tweet from @Dbacks: Thank you to all our incredible partners for their incredible support as well as the players, staff and legends for coming to tonight���s #DbacksMVP Awards! pic.twitter.com/H1HNsrCydk

Here is a complete list of the night's winners:

Multi-Cultural Award: Jack Daniels
Luis Gonzalez Community Champion: Safelite
Brand Integration Award: Cox Communications
D-backs Ambassador Award: FOX Sports Arizona
Marketing Activation Award: Papa Johns
Fans Choice: Taco Bell
Rookie of the Year: State Forty Eight
Lifetime Achievement: MillerCoors
MVP Silver Slugger: Sanderson Ford
MVP Gold Glove: Gila River Hotels and Casinos

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks

D-backs acquire Boxberger in trade with Rays

Arizona sends right-handed prospect Taylor to Tampa Bay
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added to their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays in exchange for Minor League right-hander Curtis Taylor.

"Going into the offseason, we knew we needed to focus on supplementing the bullpen, adding to the back end of the bullpen specifically," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "And we feel like he fits all that stuff for us. He has the ability to close, he has the ability to pitch in late/leverage roles and we still maintain our flexibility in terms of who else we may add to the bullpen. We think he's an important piece."

PHOENIX -- The D-backs added to their bullpen Thursday by acquiring right-hander Brad Boxberger from the Rays in exchange for Minor League right-hander Curtis Taylor.

"Going into the offseason, we knew we needed to focus on supplementing the bullpen, adding to the back end of the bullpen specifically," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said. "And we feel like he fits all that stuff for us. He has the ability to close, he has the ability to pitch in late/leverage roles and we still maintain our flexibility in terms of who else we may add to the bullpen. We think he's an important piece."

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D-backs relievers comibined for a 3.78 ERA in 2017, which was the fifth best in the Majors. Closer Fernando Rodney is a free agent, and while the club is still keeping in touch with him, they are taking a flexible approach to building the bullpen, much like they did last offseason.

In Boxberger and Archie Bradley, Arizona has a pair of arms to pitch in high-leverage situations, but neither player precludes them from re-signing Rodney if the contract terms are right, or picking up another potential closer.

Boxberger, 29, posted his best season in 2015, when he led the American League with 41 saves.

Injuries limited Boxberger to 27 games in 2016 and 30 in '17, but he finished last season strong in compiling a 0.96 ERA over his final nine appearances.

"He finished the season healthy, and we obviously went through a full medical check and we feel good about it," Hazen said.

Video: TB@HOU: Boxberger fans White, side in the 6th

Boxberger is eligible for salary arbitration, and according to projections by MLBTradeRumors.com, he could earn $1.9 million, which was one of the reasons the Rays dealt him.

The D-backs have control of Boxberger through the 2019 season.

Taylor, 22, was Arizona's fourth-round Draft pick in 2016 and was ranked as the club's No. 14 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com.

Taylor's 2017 season with Class A Kane County was cut short when he sustained a right shoulder impingement in mid-July. At the time of the injury, Taylor was 3-4 with a 3.32 ERA.

"He's got a great arm and he was obviously a high pick, but we know that in a trade like this, to get a controllable reliever like Brad, that we were going to have to give up something pretty good," Hazen said. "We have Brad for two years so we feel good about the control there."

Video: Zinkie on fantasy implications of Boxberger deal

Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
Although the D-backs have dominant righty Bradley (1.73 ERA in 2017) in the bullpen and could also choose to bring back Rodney, Boxberger is among the favorites to handle closing duties for the club based on his past experience. The righty has not picked up a save in the past two seasons, but he led the AL with 41 saves in '15. If he receives the opportunity to lock down the ninth inning in '18, Boxberger would carry relevance in all fantasy leagues.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Tampa Bay Rays, Arizona Diamondbacks, Brad Boxberger

Relievers Hoover, McFarland become FAs

D-backs tender contracts to 13 of 15 arbitration-eligible players
MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs tendered contracts to 13 players on Friday, while pitchers J.J. Hoover and T.J. McFarland -- both of whom were eligible for arbitration -- were non-tendered and are now free agents.

The D-backs had 15 players eligible for arbitration, the biggest class in the Majors. That is now reduced to 13 and includes Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado, Shelby Miller, Chris Herrmann, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, Taijuan Walker, Nick Ahmed, Andrew Chafin, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Robbie Ray and Brad Boxberger.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs tendered contracts to 13 players on Friday, while pitchers J.J. Hoover and T.J. McFarland -- both of whom were eligible for arbitration -- were non-tendered and are now free agents.

The D-backs had 15 players eligible for arbitration, the biggest class in the Majors. That is now reduced to 13 and includes Patrick Corbin, Randall Delgado, Shelby Miller, Chris Herrmann, Chris Owings, A.J. Pollock, Taijuan Walker, Nick Ahmed, Andrew Chafin, Jake Lamb, David Peralta, Robbie Ray and Brad Boxberger.

"Again, I think it's a reflection of the good, young talent that's on the roster," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said of the large arbitration class. "And we'll handle the workload as we need to."

• Hot Stove Tracker

MLBTradeRumors.com projected Hoover to make $1.6 million and McFarland $1 million had they been tendered contracts.

Hoover pitched well at the beginning of the 2017 season, compiling a 1.86 ERA in April over 12 appearances, and he also finished the season with scoreless outings in 13 of his final 15 appearances. The right-hander did struggle at times, though, and was demoted to Triple-A Reno twice during the regular season.

McFarland came to Spring Training in 2017 as a non-roster invitee and had a 2.29 ERA in his first 26 appearances, but the lefty struggled to the tune of a 13.50 ERA in August.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, J.J. Hoover, T.J. McFarland

MRI shows Delgado's right elbow improving

MLB.com @SteveGilbertMLB

PHOENIX -- The D-backs got some good news recently when a follow-up MRI of Randall Delgado's right elbow showed improvement.

Delgado's season came to an end on July 16 when he was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

PHOENIX -- The D-backs got some good news recently when a follow-up MRI of Randall Delgado's right elbow showed improvement.

Delgado's season came to an end on July 16 when he was placed on the disabled list with elbow inflammation.

Delgado was later diagnosed with a strained flexor strain in his elbow and underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in September to help aid in the healing process.

"We had a follow-up MRI and that's looking good," D-backs GM Mike Hazen said. "We feel good about where he's at right now."

Delgado was an underrated member of the Arizona bullpen last year. More than just the 3.59 ERA he compiled in 26 games was his versatility. He started five games for the D-backs, helping to give the rotation an extra day of rest and he was a jack-of-all trades for the team coming out of the bullpen.

As a reliever, Delgado threw at least 1 1/3 innings of relief in 14 of his appearances, threw at least two innings in 12 games and three innings in five of his appearances.

"When we lost him, [we lost] that flexibility to be able to bounce back and forth," Hazen said. "I also think bouncing between roles in the bullpen -- on a day when we needed three innings or when we needed a couple of outs -- he was able to pitch in both situations."

Delgado is in his final year of arbitration eligibility and MLBTradeRumors.com projects him to earn $2.5 million in 2018.

Delgado has not yet begun a throwing program because the team wants him to wait until he would normally start his preparations for Spring Training, which is usually after Christmas.

"You never know 100 percent how these things go, but we're pretty optimistic about it at this point," Hazen said.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Randall Delgado