The Arizona Diamondbacks added to a strength by signing free agent outfielder Cody Ross, giving them -- at least for the time being -- six outfielders on a team that usually carries only four. The move appears to be a precursor to another trade, as the signing of right-hander Brandon McCarthy was the week before.
Ross, who can play all three outfield positions, gives the D-backs depth in center field. Rookie Adam Eaton was considered the leader to start the 2013 season in center after a strong showing as a September call-up. Ross signed a three-year deal worth $26 million, including a $9.5 million team option for 2016, or a $1 million buyout.
"We thought it was a perfect fit," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said.
The day Ross was signed, the team was working on several deals, a source with knowledge of their thinking told FOXSportsArizona.com. The D-backs let the McCarthy addition percolate for four days before completing the three-team deal with the Cleveland Indians and the Cincinnati Reds that brought shortstop of the future Didi Gregorius, left-hander Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson on Dec. 18.
The Arizona outfield now includes Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Ross, Gerardo Parra, Eaton and A.J. Pollock -- on a major league roster not big enough for all of them. At the same time, the D-backs are in an even stronger position in trade talks going forward. Eaton and Pollock have minor league options remaining, which would make it easy to retain all six, and managing partner Ken Kendrick has said the D-backs' 2013 payroll can stay at $95 million, where it is now.
So the D-backs can pick and choose. Nothing must be done, which puts the onus on the other side. Towers said his phone "blew up" after word of the Ross signing spread from teams who are still in the market for an outfielder, and it seems a long shot that the D-backs will enter spring training without making another move.
"I'll keep my ears open. We're in a situation thankfully where we aren't leveraged where we have to move one. If someone presents with the right deal, then we may consider moving one of our outfielders," Towers said.
Ross, because he is in the first year of a new contract, cannot be traded without his permission until late June.