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Diamondbacks looking at starting pitchers, including Billingsley, Maeda

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The Diamondbacks are interested in a number of starting pitchers as they look to upgrade their rotation.

Denis Poroy

It appears that the Diamondbacks are set on upgrading their rotation this offseason. Per Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, Arizona general manager Dave Stewart is looking at a number of options including free agent Chad Billingsley and Japanese right-hander Kenta Maeda. Stewart also adds that the club is more likely to make any rotation upgrades via trade rather than signing a big-name free agent such as Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, or James Shields

The Diamondbacks have been heavily connected to Billingsley in recent days, as FOX Sports Arizona's Jack Magruder reports that Billinglsey "remains a person of interest" to Arizona. As a player agent, Stewart represented Billingsley, so the connection is obvious, and he has publicly stated that Billingsley is "definitely a possibility."

The 30-year-old Billingsley has not pitched in the majors since April of 2013 as he has dealt with severe arm issues including a torn flexor tendon. When healthy, Billingsley has proven to be quite effective, though he hasn't pitched a significant portion of a season since 2012, so there is uncertainty surrounding his current talent level. In 2012, Billingsley's last full season, he posted a 3.55 ERA and 3.34 FIP in 149.2 innings pitched. He is expected to be ready by spring training, though that does not seem to be a guarantee.

The Diamondbacks are also expected to pursue Maeda if he is posted, though he may end up out of their price range. The 26-year-old Maeda posted a 2.60 ERA, 7.7 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 187 innings pitched for the Hiroshima Carp last season.

Arizona has also been said to be interested in Tampa Bay Rays' right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who reports indicated was close to being traded over the weekend. However, as The Arizona Republic's Nick Piecoro reports, it does not appear that the Diamondbacks are nearing a deal for Hellickson at this time.