PHOENIX -- The agent for Brandon Webb says the former NL Cy Young Award winner loves Arizona and has not given up on the possibility of re-signing with the Diamondbacks.
Jonathan Maurer said, however, that several teams have already contacted him with interest in the right-hander, who hasn't pitched since the 2009 season opener while slowly recovering from shoulder surgery.
Under new rules, the 31-year-old Webb automatically became a free agent when the World Series ended. The Diamondbacks have a five-day window of exclusive negotiating rights that expires Saturday but have made no offer.
New Arizona general manager Kevin Towers said that the Diamondbacks "have not entirely closed the door" on bringing Webb back.
The comment came in a curious news release issued by the club on Wednesday with lavish praise for Webb from managing general partner Ken Kendrick, team president Derrick Hall and Towers.
"Although we have not entirely closed the door on Brandon returning to the D-backs next season, I understand the process he and his agent are going through at this time as a free agent," Towers said. "... We wish him continued success as he goes through this process."
The cost-conscious Diamondbacks may not be able, let alone willing, to match offers from other teams with bigger payrolls that are willing to take a chance on Webb's recovery. But Maurer said Arizona will get that chance.
"As we get offers or opportunities, I will communicate with Kevin Towers about them," Maurer said. "... Any offer from Arizona will be considered as much or more than any offer from anywhere else because of how good Arizona has been to us."
The Diamondbacks drafted Webb out of the University of Kentucky in 2000 and he developed a devastating sinking fastball. He won the Cy Young Award in 2006 after going 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA.
His next two seasons were even better.
In 2007, Webb was 18-10 with a 3.01 ERA and a career-high 194 strikeouts. In 2008, he was 22-7 with a 3.30 ERA and 183 strikeouts.
But after pitching more than 200 innings in five consecutive seasons, Webb developed shoulder trouble that eventually resulted in surgery. The Diamondbacks exercised their $8.5 million option to keep him under contract for 2010, but he never made it back.
Maurer said Webb was understandably rusty in a recent instructional league outing and his velocity was four to five mph slower than what it had been.
"That's expected," the agent said. "The reality is Brandon's arm worked very well that day."
Maurer denied a report that Webb was looking for at least $7.5 million. The agent said he had just used that figure as an example of what Brad Penny got coming off an injury.
"What I really am trying to get at is there have been injured pitchers coming back, missing significant time, and have gotten some level of guarantee plus incentives," Maurer said.
In the Diamondbacks news release, Kendrick noted that Webb and Randy Johnson top nearly all of the franchise's pitching statistics and are the franchise's only Cy Young winners. He also praised the work Webb's foundation does in the community.
Hall was even more complimentary in what certainly sounded like a fond farewell.
"He has meant so much to this franchise and provided this team and our fans with magical memories," Hall said. "His contributions both on and off the field are greatly appreciated and should be recognized."