LAS VEGAS - The Diamondbacks’ shopping list got a little longer Sunday when reliever Brandon Lyon rejected their offer of salary arbitration.
Orlando Hudson and Juan Cruz also rejected arbitration, as expected, by Sunday’s 10 p.m. deadline, but the loss of both Lyon and Cruz creates a semblance of need in the bullpen and will lead to more discussions at the major league winter meeting that begins today at the Bellagio.
While the D-Backs can continue to negotiate with all three players, Hudson and Cruz are likely to command multiyear deals that are beyond the D-Backs’ budget range.
By declining, Lyon appears to believe there will be a multiyear market for his services, either as a closer or more likely as a setup man.
At the same time, Lyon has spoken positively of his time with the D-Backs and could consider returning, even as an eight-inning specialist in front of new closer Chad Qualls, who took the job last September and will enter spring training with it.
The D-Backs already have had talks with the agent for free agent Joe Beimel in an attempt to find a left-handed specialist, but Beimel is hardly alone.
“Everybody (reliever) who is a free agent, we’ve talked to,” said D-Backs general manager Josh Byrnes, only half-kiddingly. “It’s a matter of what’s realistic.”
The D-Backs already have second base on their shopping list and have expressed interest in free agents Ramon Vazquez, Damion Easley, Mark Loretta and St. Louis’ Adam Kennedy, who has requested a trade.
Qualls, Jon Rauch and Tony Peña are the main relievers certain to return.
Righties Leo Rosales, Billy Buckner, Jailen Peguero and Connor Robertson and left-handers Doug Slaten and Wil Ledezma spent part of 2008 in the D-Backs’ bullpen and are candidates to flesh out the corps.
Qualls had a strong finish while supplanting Lyon in September, but Rauch — the projected closer when he was acquired in midseason — struggled the final month, and sources indicated the D-Backs’ medical staff considered him a risk because of past labrum issues.
Lyon also had a rough second half, but he still had 26 saves and had a 24-game scoreless streak.
He made 202 appearances in the last three seasons since recovering from a right elbow injury, going 11-13 with a 3.69 ERA, 28 saves. He led the NL with 34 holds as a primary setup man in 2007.
Cruz was 4-0 with a 2.61 ERA last season and was 15-7 with a 3.47 in 141 appearances over the last three seasons.
With the loss of Type A free agents Hudson and Cruz, the D-Backs will get at least four extra picks in the June draft — two “sandwich” picks between the first and second rounds and perhaps two more first-rounders, depending who signs Hudson and Cruz since the first 15 picks in the 2009 draft are protected.