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Kendrick, Hall see opportunity for D-backs to bounce back
By BOB BAUM
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) Arizona Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick sees potential for a bounce-back year.
"I think the players themselves were pretty disappointed in the outcome last year as all of us were," the team's managing general partner said Friday, "and we do have a history here of rebounding from bad seasons. You'd like to think the core is there. With some changes that we've made, there's real potential for a turnaround."
Kendrick and Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall met with reporters after speaking to the team on Friday prior to its first full-squad workout of spring training.
After signing free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke to a $206.5 million, six-year contract, the Diamondbacks were expected by many to contend last season but instead quickly fell out of contention in the NL West and finished with 69 wins.
"Obviously there aren't those expectations this year, which I think is good for everybody," Kendrick said. "That's sort of how we like to play, always have in the past, flying below the radar. I expect to have a team that's prepared to play every day and is going to compete."
But the team remains at a financial disadvantage in competing against NL West rivals Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The Diamondbacks project to have a payroll of about $102 million, Hall said, with the flexibility to spend a little more to bolster the squad if it does well.
"Ken's always been open, willing to listen to other needs and generous enough to stretch if need be," Hall said. "We're not where we will necessarily finish (in payroll), but we're at a place where we have flexibility to add if needed. Hopefully we're in that position."
Some wonder whether the Diamondbacks can afford both Greinke and a new contract for first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, whose owner-friendly contract calls for salaries of $8.75 million this year, $11 million in 2018 and a $14.5 million club option in 2019. Given his status as a perennial All-Star, Goldschmidt will earn much more in his next deal.
"That's a decision that's legitimately down the road," Kendrick said. "Paul has three more years with us no matter what. While you always plan longer term, the focus is not on that as a decision we need to make in the near term."
If the season does not go well, trades for prospects to bolster a depleted minor league system are likely.
"Trading more high-dollar guys for prospects is a standard practice in the industry," Kendrick said. "You kind of hope you're not in that place but you have to act in a business-like way if that were to happen. I would hope we would be in the opposite. We're prepared to act if needed if the team is competitive and there's' the opportunity to acquire" major league players to bolster the roster.
Kendrick spoke about the lawsuit the team has filed against Maricopa County, contending the county has failed in its commitment to spend up to $187 million to repair and upgrade Chase Field. The suit asks that the team be allowed to look for other places to play.
The county has asked that the case be dismissed or sent to arbitration. Kendrick said there will be no arbitration.
"The public's money is at stake, our money is at stake, and if there is a dispute or debate it ought to be in public in front of a judge and not in private in arbitration," he said.
Notes: Manager Torey Lovullo said Jerry Narron, the manager of Arizona's Triple-A club in Reno, will be the Diamondbacks bench coach while Ron Gardenhire is treated for prostate cancer. Gardenhire expects to leave for surgery in mid-April.
Updated February 17, 2017