Damion Easley saw what playing at home did for good friend Tony Clark last season, and it helped convince Easley to do the same.
A 17-year Valley resident, Easley, an infielder, signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Diamondbacks on Monday.
"I told him that home cooking must be a great thing,’’ said Easley, 36.
"I’m hoping to share in that success this season.’’
The D-Backs, meanwhile, continue to have trade discussions regarding starter Javier Vazquez and finally were able to talk with Houston after missing connections at last week’s winter meetings.
Houston could be looking for a front-line starter after failing to offer Roger Clemens salary arbitration.
The D-Backs have several offers to pick from — the Mets and Nationals are believed to be suitors — and D-Backs general manager Josh Byrnes said it is just a matter of deciding which one to accept.
He said picking up some of Vazquez’s $24 million in salary is "mostly out of the question. It would require big talent given on the other side,’’ adding that such talent has not been offered.
The D-Backs and the Cubs have talked several times, and it is known the D-Backs are interested in center fielder Corey Patterson. Houston is said to be willing to listen to offers for Willy Taveras.
"We’re still chipping away’’ at acquiring a center fielder, Byrnes said. "We’ve fleshed it out a lot.’’
Easley was pursued by five or six teams, said agent Paul Cohen, who added, "there were deals for more money out there.’’
"But this is what I wanted to do,’’ Easley said.
Easley hit .240 with nine home runs, 19 doubles and 30 RBIs in 267 at-bats with Florida last season and is a career .252 hitter with 129 homers and 111 stolen bases.
He is projected as the nominal backup at second base, shortstop and third base. Of course, Clark was expected to be a reserve last season before claiming the starting first base position halfway through the season and finishing with 30 home runs and 87 RBIs.
"I’m not asking them to promise me anything,’’ Easley said.
Byrnes: "He gives us a lot of combinations in the middle of the field. There will be a lot of playing time to go around.’’
Unless the D-Backs make another move, the middle infield seems set with Craig Counsell, Alex Cintron, Easley and Andy Green, who seems to have earned a roster spot after his MVP season in the Pacific Coast League in 2005.
Easley and Clark, who played together in Detroit from 1997-2001, were the most productive right side of the infield in the American League in 1998, when they combined for 61 home runs and 203 RBIs. Easley had 27 homers and 100 RBIs.
"Damion embodies what it means to be a professional,’’ Clark said in an e-mail. "Whether it be on the field or off it, he’s a man of character and is dedicated to doing his part to help our organization complete its goal of another world championship.’’