D-backs agree to deal with outfielder Ross
By Steve Gilbert / MLB.com | 12/22/12 10:20 PM ET
Ross signs with D-backs00:01:58
Kevin Towers discusses the signing of Cody Ross to add to his plentiful outfield and readiness to play when he is needed
PHOENIX -- The D-backs' agreement on a three-year deal with free-agent outfielder Cody Ross on Saturday caught the baseball world by surprise.
As it turns out, the whirlwind process, which began on Monday when D-backs general manager Kevin Towers called Ross' agent, even came as a shock to Ross, who lives in the Phoenix area.
"I've always longed to play for the Diamondbacks and I just never thought it was a fit," Ross said. "And then all of a sudden Kevin calls my agent and the next thing you know it happened so fast that we're still just jumping up and down. My wife and I, and kids are ecstatic and could not be happier right now."
Towers recently was sitting in managing general partner Ken Kendrick's Chase Field office along with team president/CEO Derrick Hall, and the trio were looking over the remaining free agents on the market.
"Ken said, 'You know I've got a guy,'" Towers said. "And had me guess a little. I said: 'I've got a couple of guys, as well. I said 'who's your guy?' and he said Cody Ross, and I said, 'Well, that's my guy, as well,' and I think Derrick felt the same way."
After the initial phone call on Monday, Towers, Hall, Kendrick and special assistant Luis Gonzalez had lunch with Ross on Tuesday and a deal came together quickly after that.
"My thing was I wanted to win and they want to win just as bad as I do, so it just kind of all worked out and came together," Ross said. "It was just a great meeting and ended up being a perfect fit."
The deal is worth $26 million with a club option for a fourth year that includes a $1 million buyout, according to ESPN's Jim Bowden.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old seems to be an odd fit with the D-backs, given the team's surplus of outfielders. Ross joins an outfield that already includes Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton, as well as Triple-A outfielder A.J. Pollock.
Trade rumors have swirled around Upton throughout the winter, though they have cooled of late and it seemed more likely the D-backs would deal Kubel to create more playing time for Parra.
"If we decided to stay status quo, I guess we could always option Adam Eaton. [Ross] could play center, Parra could play center and you'd have 'J-Up' and Kubel on the corners," Towers said.
Towers said ownership has given him the go-ahead to hang on to all of the outfielders if he thinks that's the best way to go. Doing so would push the Arizona payroll toward the $95 million mark.
However, it still seems likely the D-backs will make a move with one of the other outfielders. The White Sox and Rangers are among the teams still looking to add to their outfield situations.
Towers said that his phone "blew up" from other general managers calling to talk about trades involving his outfielders.
"If we start the season with Parra and Kubel and Ross and Upton, we're in good shape, and we've still got our depth with Eaton down below," Towers said. "If somebody presents us with a deal that we think improves our club, or the right type of prospects, then we'll consider it."
Ross has played for six teams during his nine-year career and played a huge role in the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title. He has the reputation of being a high-energy player and a good influence in the clubhouse.
"He's a guy that's always been a proven winner," Towers said. "He's a guy that always delivers when the game is on the line, a clutch performer. I think one thing that our club missed a little bit last year was some energy. I think he certainly brings energy to the ballclub, certainly very familiar with the NL West and has always been able to perform on the big stage. He's able to play all three outfield positions well and we just felt like he was the perfect fit."
Ross said that he does not care what position he plays or where he hits in the lineup. Nor, he said, was he concerned about the logjam in the outfield, saying the D-backs would not have signed him if they thought the outfield was too crowded.
Even though he's hit just .206 (14-for-68) in his career at Chase Field, it is a ballpark he likes to hit in.
"I love the park," Ross said. "I love the background, hitting-wise. I just feel like I see the ball really well. I just feel comfortable when I step into the box. There are some places that I feel not so good in, there's some places I feel great in, and there are some places I feel just OK in, and Chase Field is one of those places where I would dig in and I could see really well. Just everything about the stadium felt comfortable to me."