Offseason Outlook: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are next in our Offseason Outlook series.  Their setup for 2009:

C – Chris Snyder – $1.85MM+
C – Miguel Montero – $401K
1B – Chad Tracy – $4.75MM
2B –
SS – Stephen Drew – $1.5MM
3B – Mark Reynolds – $400K
IF – Augie Ojeda – $550K+
IF/OF – Chris Burke – $955K+
LF – Conor Jackson – $420K+
CF – Chris Young – $1.75MM
RF – Justin Upton – $1.3MM
OF – Eric Byrnes – $11MM
OF – Alex Romero – $400K

SP – Brandon Webb – $6.5MM
SP – Dan Haren – $7.5MM
SP – Doug Davis – $8.75MM
SP – Edgar Gonzalez – $411K+
SP – Max Scherzer – $1.075MM

RP – Chad Qualls – $1.3125MM+
RP – Jon Rauch – $2MM
RP – Tony Pena – $406K
RP – Yusmeiro Petit – $400K
RP – Doug Slaten – $401K
RP – Leo Rosales – $400K
RP – Billy Buckner – $400K

Non-tender candidates: Wil Ledezma – $620K+, Chris Burke – $955K+

The D’Backs have about $55MM committed, plus arbitration raises to Snyder, Burke, Jackson, Gonzalez, Qualls, and Ledezma.  A few of those guys could be non-tendered, keeping the D’Backs under $60MM.  They started ’08 at $66.2MM, though I believe the D’Backs take more of a long-term view toward payroll.  MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert figures they’ll have less than $10MM to spend.

The Diamondbacks were in the middle of the NL for OBP and SLG.  They have positional flexibility with Jackson, Reynolds, Tracy, and Byrnes, though only Jackson posted a strong OBP among those four. 

Looking at the market, it probably makes sense to put Jackson at first base and acquire a left fielder if possible.  Raul Ibanez, Adam Dunn, Pat Burrell, and Manny Ramirez are the top free agent left fielders.  Bobby Abreu could also fit.  However, these players will all cost more than $10MM a year.  GM Josh Byrnes says he’s more likely to hit the free agent market than make trades, since the D’Backs traded so many prospects in ’08.  Byrnes will have to find a bargain, maybe a Juan Rivera type.  The D’Backs also need a second or third baseman depending on where Reynolds plays.  There’s just not enough money unless payroll goes up.

The team’s pitching staff looks respectable, though losing Randy Johnson would hurt.  I can’t see how they can re-sign him and add an offensive player for a total of $10MM.  Scherzer will have to have a big year if Johnson leaves.  With Qualls, Rauch, and Pena, it seems the pen can withstand the losses of Juan Cruz and Brandon Lyon.

It’s kind of awkward having Byrnes as the highest-paid player on the team, as he could end up the fourth outfielder if Jackson plays left.  With $22MM remaining on his deal (and a no-trade clause), the D’Backs would have to take on a bad contract in return.  Nick Piecoro had an interesting idea with Luis Castillo.

Once again the D’Backs will look to improve offensively mainly through development of their young players.  Young and Upton do seem poised for breakouts.  It also seems likely the D’Backs will make a few midseason trades as they did in ’08.



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