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D-backs remain open to trading outfielder

PHOENIX -- With less than three weeks to go until pitchers and catchers begin reporting, general manager Kevin Towers said that if something is going to happen regarding a trade of one of his outfielders, it will take place before that.

"I would imagine," he said. "Usually clubs once Spring Training starts are pretty comfortable with what they have unless there's an injury or something."

The D-backs still have a surplus of outfielders, and Towers said he's still getting plenty of phone calls from teams.

"It's the story that will never go away," Towers said. "I guess I did it to myself by saying everyone is available. You get what you ask for."

The D-backs had a deal in place to send outfielder Justin Upton to the Mariners for a package of top-end prospects, but Seattle is one of four teams on Upton's no-trade list and he exercised his right to veto the deal.

While the Rangers and Braves have expressed interest in Upton throughout the winter, so far neither team has put together a package that meets what the D-backs are looking to get.

That could, of course, change in the next couple of weeks, but if it doesn't, it seems likely the team will turn its attention to dealing Jason Kubel.

Moving Kubel and his $7.5 million contract would get the D-backs' payroll back under $90 million. Towers has said, however, that ownership has given him the flexibility to keep the team as is if he thinks it gives them the best chance to win. In other words, the D-backs don't plan on just dumping an outfielder.

Towers is slated to leave for a 10-day trip to South Africa and will not be returning home until Feb. 5. While it would seem that a deal would be made before or after the trip rather than during it, it's worth noting that last offseason he signed Kubel to a two-year deal while in Belgium.

The D-backs signed five of their salary arbitration-eligible players since last week, but have yet to reach an agreement with outfielder Gerardo Parra.

Parra filed at $2.7 million while the team submitted a $2.1 million figure.

Salary-arbitration hearings take place between Feb. 4-20 and teams can reach agreements with players at any time before the arbitrators announce their decision.

Last year the D-backs reached an agreement with catcher Miguel Montero just before his arbitration hearing was set to begin.

The D-backs have not been to a hearing with a player since losing to Damian Miller in 2001.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Cliff Pennington, Justin Upton