The Arizona Diamondbacks extended the contract of right-handed pitcher Brandon Webb Friday, locking up their 26-year-old staff ace at a cost-certain figure through at least 2009. The club has an option for 2010.
Financial terms of the extension were not disclosed.
“It's a lot of money. It's a lot of responsibility, certainly a lot of responsibility to lead our staff," Diamondbacks general partner Jeff Moorad said.
Webb was entering the final year of a three-year contract prior to signing Friday. The Diamondbacks had an option for next season and had Webb under control through arbitration for four more years.
However, they chose to extend his contract to avoid the uncertainty (i.e. more expensive deal) that can accompany arbitration.
“This is the type of contract a club doesn't have to do . . . It's something we wanted to do," Diamondbacks general manager Josh Byrnes said. “When you've identified your core players and you can lock them up to provide them security and provide the club cost-certainty, it really helps accelerate the decision-making process and the building process." Webb's extension, upon which Byrnes said the parties shook hands a few weeks ago, brings with it the responsibility of becoming the Diamondbacks' No. 1 starter. As a rookie on a staff that included Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson in 2003, Webb posted a 10-9 record and sported a 2.84 ERA, fourth best in the National League. Playing second fiddle to Johnson in 2004, Webb was just 7-16 with a 3.59 ERA.
He rebounded in 2005, going 14-12 with an ERA of 3.54, but he was still second in the rotation behind Javier Vazquez. With the memories of Johnson and Schilling fading and with Vazquez pitching for the Chicago White Sox, it's now Webb's time to be No. 1 — though he downplayed the position's importance.
“It gives you opening day and that's it. After that, it kinda gets mixed up," said Webb, uncharacteristically adorned in a suit and tie. "I pitch my game and I don't think too much into it. Obviously, I don't want the pressure of thinking I'm the No. 1. I do recognize it, but thinking about it just adds pressure that I don't need. “I think I'm up to the challenge.”
The D-Backs agreed to terms with right-handed pitcher Luis Vizcaino on a one-year contract, thus avoiding salary arbitration. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Vizcaino, 31, was acquired on Dec. 20 with right-handed pitcher Orlando Hernandez and center fielder Chris Young in a deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the White Sox. Vizcaino appeared in 65 games last year for the White Sox, going 6-5 with a 3.73 ERA in 70 innings. He has pitched parts of seven seasons in the major leagues and is 21-17 with a 4.36 ERA in 338 outings (all in relief).