D-Backs complete Hillenbrand trade to Jays
"To me, that was the thing that sealed the deal," Estes said in a conference call after the agreement was announced Wednesday. "My family definitely comes first in my life, and career is second, so it was an easy choice to me."
Hillenbrand, acquired from Boston in May 2003, hit a team-high .310 for the Diamondbacks last season with 15 home runs and 80 RBIs. A third baseman most of his career, he played first last season for Arizona.
The Diamondbacks made the trade as a payroll-cutting move. Hillenbrand earned $2.6 million this season and was eligible for arbitration, which meant he probably would have received about $4 million for next season.
Peterson, a 25-year-old right-hander, spent the majority of the 2004 season as a closer in the minors, appearing in just three games for Toronto. He has a fastball in the mid-90 mph range. Peterson had a 2.54 ERA and 15 saves with Double-A New Hampshire last year.
Estes turned down a two-year offer for more money from the Washington Nationals. He and his wife Heather -- and their sons 16-month-old Jackson and 3-month-old Cody -- live in Paradise Valley, about a 20-minute drive to Bank One Ballpark.
"I was single for a long time in the big leagues, and playing with guys that had children I saw how hard it was for them to be away," Estes said.
He becomes the third new starting pitcher on a Diamondbacks roster that has been dramatically overhauled since the team lost 111 games last season. Arizona signed free agent Russ Ortiz, then acquired Javier Vazquez as part of the trade that sent Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees.
Estes, 31, was 15-8 with a 5.84 ERA in a career-high 34 starts for the Rockies last season. Despite pitching in hitter-friendly Coors Field, Estes' victories were second to Johnson among left-handers in the National League.
It was a comeback season for Estes, who found himself with few job offers after going 8-11 with a 5.74 ERA with the Chicago Cubs in 2003. He credits his success a year ago to his offseason conditioning and preparing himself mentally to succeed in Colorado, where pitchers almost always seem to struggle.
"I rededicated myself physically," he said. "I knew I was going to have to prove myself again and kind of reinvent myself."
Most significantly to the Diamondbacks front office, Estes was 8-1 with a 3.73 ERA in 16 starts against NL West opponents. He led the National League in inducing double plays and was second in the NL in pickoffs with five.
Estes pitched six seasons for San Francisco, then has been with four teams over the past three years. His best season was in 1997, when he went 19-5 with a 3.18 ERA with the Giants and made the All-Star team.
Estes played with Ortiz in San Francisco.
"He's a workhorse," Estes said. "He'll go out and give you 200 innings every year."
Last season, Estes was a teammate of Royce Clayton, Arizona's new shortstop.
"I didn't know how good he was until I did play with him," Estes said. "He's one of the best shortstops in the league day in and day out."
He said he doesn't care where he pitches in the rotation. And as for the Diamondbacks' prospects, he said his predictions usually are wrong.
"This team reminds me a lot of the '97 Giants to be honest with you," he said. "Pretty much every position was filled with new guys, except for left field, and we won the division. It's kind of a crapshoot when you put new guys together. Either you gel or you don't, but I think we'll come together really well."
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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