Double-D on the Double-W?

One of the unsung heroes of the Arizona Diamondbacks 2009 season has been starting pitcher Doug Davis. Davis came to the Diamondbacks along with pitcher Dana Eveland and outfielder David Krynzel in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers on November 25 for catcher Johnny Estrada and pitchers Greg Aquino and Claudio Vargas.

At the time the big free agent available was pitcher Barry Zito. The Diamondbacks front office was ecstatic getting Davis. They believed Davis compared favorable to Zito at a much lower cost. I wrote a blog post, From “Z” to “D” giving my take on that comparison.

As time has gone on, the Diamondbacks clearly made the right choice. Arguments could be made that Barry Zito has been a bust in San Francisco while Doug Davis has been a valuable addition to the Diamondbacks over the past three years.

Doug Davis entered this season in the final year of the contract extension he signed with the Diamondbacks on January 18, 2007. There has been speculation that the Diamondbacks would allow Davis to walk at the end of this contract. Things may have changed slightly when staff ace Brandon Webb went down with an injury on Opening Day and subsequently had season ending surgery.

With the team holding an $8.5 million option on Webb for 2010 they may not be willing to risk that amount of cash on someone who may not be able to pitch when Spring Training begins. Further complications arose when Diamondbacks prospect Jarrod Parker experienced discomfort on his pitching elbow throwing his future in doubt for 2010 and beyond.

Suddenly Doug Davis looks like a prime target for the Diamondbacks to re-sign to be a part of the starting rotation for the foreseeable future.

ESPN is reporting that the Arizona Diamondbacks have placed Davis on the waiver wire. This is required if a team has intentions of trading him beyond the July 31 trade deadline. The inclusion of Davis on the waiver wire does not mean he will be traded nor does it preclude the team from pulling him back. What it does is provide an opportunity for the Diamondbacks to negotiate a trade if presented with the right offer.

If a team claims Davis the Diamondbacks have the option of negotiating with that team for a possible trade, pulling Davis off the waiver wire and retain his rights, or let the team have Davis and his current salary for the remainder of the contract.

Of those scenarios the most likely would seem to be either trading Davis for prospects then re-sign him during the off-season; or pull Davis back and retain his services for the remainder of the year then offer him salary arbitration. Offering him salary arbitration will give the Diamondbacks draft picks if another team signs him as a free agent.

The Diamondbacks have assured the fans that they are not interested in dumping salary for the sake of salary so just allowing another team to take him doesn’t seem logical or consistent with that message.

Given the lack of pitching depth at the upper levels of the farm system I fully expect Davis to remain a Diamondback for the remainder of this season and for the team to attempt to re-sign him to an extension as a safety net in case Brandon Webb does not return from injury or his option is not picked up.

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