Offseason Outlook: Arizona Diamondbacks

Next up in our Offseason Outlook series, the Diamondbacks.  Their commitments for 2010:

C – Miguel Montero – $425K+
C – Chris Snyder – $4.75MM
1B – Brandon Allen – $400K
2B – Ryan Roberts – $400K
SS – Stephen Drew – $1.5MM+
3B – Mark Reynolds – $423K
IF – Augie Ojeda – $713K+
LF – Conor Jackson – $2.4MM+
CF – Chris Young – $3.25MM
RF – Justin Upton – $412K
OF – Eric Byrnes – $11MM
OF – Gerardo Parra – $400K
OF – Alex Romero – $404K

Other candidates: 1B – Josh Whitesell – $401K, 2B – Rusty Ryal – $400K, OF – Trent Oeltjen – $400K

SP – Dan Haren – $8.25MM
SP – Brandon Webb – $8.5MM (club option)
SP – Max Scherzer – $1.45MM+
SP – Billy Buckner – $403K
SP – Yusmeiro Petit – $412K

Other candidates: Jarrod Parker – $400K, Kevin Mulvey – $400K

RP – Chad Qualls – $2.535MM+
RP – Juan Gutierrez – $401K
RP – Esmerling Vasquez – $400K
RP – Clay Zavada – $400K
RP – Leo Rosales – $403K
RP – Blaine Boyer – $433K+
RP – Daniel Schlereth – $400K

Other commitments: Chad Tracy – $1MM buyout, Jon Garland – $1MM or $2.5MM

Non-tender candidates: Conor Jackson, Daniel Cabrera

D'Backs Managing General Partner Ken Kendrick told Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic in June that the Major League payroll was around $76MM, and it will be "the same or more" in 2010.  I have their '10 commitments at $52.5MM or $54MM, depending on what happens with Jon Garland.  Then we have to add arbitration raises for Montero, Drew, Ojeda, Qualls, and Boyer, which Piecoro feels will cost an additional $5.5MM.  In total the D'Backs have about $60MM committed for next year at the high end, operating under the assumptions that Reynolds falls short of Super Two status and Webb and Jackson are retained.  The Diamondbacks would have at least $16MM to work with this winter.

If GM Josh Byrnes prefers to shake things up, he could decline Webb's option, non-tender Jackson, and trade Snyder.  Those moves could slice $13.65MM from the '10 payroll, though it's a stretch to think Byrnes could find a team to take on Snyder's entire contract.  Snyder's trade value is at a low point, so keeping him for now makes sense.  I think Byrnes will ultimately exercise Webb's option.  The December decision on Jackson will depend on his performance on the instructional league and in winter ball.  Jackson is trying to come back from a nasty bout with Valley Fever, and if they keep him the D'Backs can attempt to cut his salary the maximum 20%.

The D'Backs are set with Drew and Reynolds on the left side of the infield, while Allen and Roberts are unproven on the right.  Roberts has seen lefties a disproportionate 37% of the time, a big contributor to his strong rookie season.  Allen showed huge power in his Triple A Reno stint, but hasn't done much otherwise this year.  Theoretically a healthy Jackson could move back to first base and the D'Backs could use Parra and/or Byrnes in left field.  If Jackson is non-tendered, it would be reasonable for the D'Backs to use that money to sign a left fielder.

Montero, Reynolds, and Upton had strong years, and Drew is a solid bat at short.  With question marks at four other positions, look for the D'Backs to consider importing at least one position player (Piecoro guesses it'll be a second baseman).

Even if Webb is retained, Byrnes will need to sign a starting pitcher.  Byrnes doesn't necessarily need to go cheap here; he could fit $15MM for John Lackey into the budget.  But realistically he'll look to the second tier, with names like Randy Wolf, Joel Pineiro, and Carl Pavano.  That'd leave a few million for a veteran reliever.

Byrnes' moves could mirror last offseason's (Scott Schoeneweis acquired and Felipe Lopez signed to a $3.5MM deal in December, Jon Garland signed for $7.25MM in January, and Tom Gordon signed for $500K in February).  We seem to say this annually about the Diamondbacks, but with the right free agents and few more young hitters maturing, they can compete.


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