10/27/2003 9:16 PM ET
D-Backs still interested in Batista
Mondesi likely too pricey; decision looming on Counsell
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com
Miguel Batista made 36 appearances last season, 29 of them as a starter. (David Kohl/AP)
PHOENIX -- Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. spoke with Martin Arburua, the agent for free-agent pitcher Miguel Batista, while in Florida during the World Series last week.
Arizona declined to pick up Batista's $5 million option for 2004, but the club has said it was not a statement on how it felt about him and hoped to re-sign the right-hander at a lower price.
Under Major League rules, Batista and Arburua are allowed to speak with other clubs but cannot discuss salary until Nov. 10. It's believed that one of the big issues for Batista is whether a team plans to use him as a starter or reliever.
Because of his versatility, the Diamondbacks used Batista in the bullpen at the beginning of the 2003 season before eventually moving into the starting rotation. Overall, the 32-year-old was 10-9 with a 3.54 ERA in 36 games (29 starts). As a starter, he was 10-7 with a 3.47 ERA compared to an 0-2 mark with a 4.50 ERA out of the bullpen.
"I think it is," Garagiola said when asked if what role Batista would fill on a team was a key for him.
Garagiola declined to say how the D-Backs would use Batista should he return for 2004.
"Martin and I talked about that down in Florida," he said. "I don't want to get into a play-by-play of those talks."
The Diamondbacks have four starters from last year's rotation under control for 2004 -- Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Elmer Dessens and Brandon Webb.
One player not under contract for 2004 is outfielder Raul Mondesi, who filed for free agency Sunday.
Mondesi was acquired by the Diamondbacks from the Yankees in July and batted .302 with eight homers and 22 RBIs.
The club was happy with his performance and work ethic, but given their desire to trim some payroll, it's unlikely Mondesi will be back, though Garagiola did not rule it out.
"I think it's too early to say," Garagiola said. "I think it's useful for him to talk with some other clubs and we'll see what happens."
The Diamondbacks must decide later this week on whether to pick up the 2005 option for infielder Craig Counsell.
It's somewhat complicated, but Counsell is under contract for 2004 with a club option for 2005. If the D-Backs pick up the option before five days after the conclusion of the World Series -- Thursday is the fifth day -- a 2006 option gets added. If they do not pick up the 2005 option by the end of the World Series, they still retain the 2005 option, but it increases by $500,000 and the club loses its 2006 option.