- If the Diamondbacks fire manager Chip Hale after the season, they could target the Rockies’ Walt Weiss, per Rosenthal, who notes that Weiss has connections to both D-backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart (they’re also on the hot seat). Weiss, whom Rockies GM Jeff Bridich inherited upon taking over after the 2014 season, is in the last year of his contract. In terms of wins and losses, the Weiss-led Rockies have shown progress this year, though they’ve faded lately and have only compiled a a 268-346 record under him since 2013.
Derrick Hall will remain the Diamondbacks’ CEO for the foreseeable future, but that won’t necessarily preclude a major overhaul to the franchise’s baseball operations department. Hall stated this week that the club will make decisions on the two heads of that department, chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and general manager Dave Stewart, after the season.
“There’s a lot to think about here,” said Hall, who doesn’t seem eager to make radical changes to Arizona’s front office.
La Russa and Stewart only took the helm in Arizona during the 2014 campaign, but the team has regressed enough under their leadership to make a regime change a legitimate possibility. After going 79-83 and posting a plus-7 run differential in 2015, the Diamondbacks’ first full season with La Russa and Stewart at the controls, the club has plummeted to 53-75 this year. Only two teams have lesser records than the D-backs, and just one has a worse run differential than Arizona’s minus-132. Injuries, primarily the fractured elbow that has kept star center fielder A.J. Pollock out all season, haven’t helped Arizona’s cause. However, even with a healthy roster, it’s fair to say the Diamondbacks would not have pushed for a playoff spot this year. Their front office had other plans, however, as evidenced by its aggressive offseason maneuverings.
The Diamondbacks’ most notable winter transactions included signing 32-year-old right-hander Zack Greinke to a $206.5MM contract and swinging a trade with the Braves for righty Shelby Miller. While still a quality option, Greinke has gone backward in his first year as a Diamondback (and spent time on the DL himself), which wasn’t the scenario they envisioned when awarding a franchise-record payday to him.
- Speaking of Puig, the division-rival Diamondbacks are said to have engaged in “some brief talks” on the talented 25-year-old. That engagement doesn’t seem to have resulted in any traction, however, so it doesn’t sound as if there’s any reason to believe that there could be a match between the organizations.
The Diamondbacks have scheduled right-hander Shelby Miller for at least one more Triple-A start, which Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic says will leave the 25-year-old unable to accrue enough days on the active roster this year to reach four full years of MLB service.
Miller is sitting at 3.133 on his service clock at present, says Piecoro. That means he would need to return to the major league roster by Thursday to reach 172 days and move from the 3+ to the 4+ arbitration class. Miller had been on track to qualify for free agency after the 2018 season. Now, it seems, the Diamondbacks will control him for 2019 as well.
The Snakes demoted Miller to Triple-A as he scuffled through an abysmal campaign. He has lasted just 69 1/3 frames in 14 big league starts and has been tagged with a 7.14 ERA on the year. That’s far from what the team expected when it traded a talented trio of players to add him over the winter.
Arizona will still need to tender Miller an arb contract this fall to retain him, of course. Miller is earning $4.35MM this year, his first season of eligibility. He won’t command much of a raise given his struggles, but will still earn a fairly significant salary.
Diamondbacks chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said that the team’s handling of Miller was not tied to service time. “I don’t know if it’s true or not,” La Russa said of the calculation of service days presented by Piecoro.
While Arizona obviously has ample cause to ask Miller to work things out at Triple-A, it is fair to note that he has been much better there. Over his 46 frames, Miller carries a 3.52 ERA and — more importantly — has recorded 10.0 K/9 against just 1.8 BB/9.
The Diamondbacks are nearing an eight-year contract extension with president and CEO Derrick Hall, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The new contract will replace Hall’s expiring contract and run through the 2024 season. Hall has been the club’s president since 2006 and CEO since 2008.
While Hall’s fate looks to be sorted out (with the result coming as little surprise), the same can’t be said of chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and GM Dave Stewart, both of whom are currently in limbo as their superiors (Hall included) evaluate what has been a wildly disappointing season for the D-backs. Stewart’s contract is reported to have an option that must be exercised by the end of the month of August, but Hall tells Piecoro that the team will push that decision back a ways. “We’ve decided we’ll go until the end of the season and then we’ll evaluate everything,” said Hall. “It was pretty successful last year, and we know there have been a lot of injuries, a lot of things haven’t gone our way. There’s a lot to think about here.”
In an effort to take some of the heat off of his baseball ops department, Hall stressed that while La Russa and Stewart may be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the club, he plays a role in those decisions by having a say on final approval as well. “I’m obviously just as guilty with approvals or disapprovals and all the meetings I’m a part of,” he said. “I think we all have to look in the mirror right now when it comes to baseball and really turn the page and start to produce.”
Piecoro also asked Hall about a weekend report from USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, which stated that Hall and owner Ken Kendrick stepped in and vetoed a trade of Shelby Miller to the Marlins and the dismissal of manager Chip Hale. Hall didn’t deny either report, and in reference to Miller said that he didn’t feel this was an instance of ownership being too involved in operations, explaining that about 95 percent of proposed deals receive approval, but there is also a “small percent that we challenge or push back.” Regarding Hale, Hall simply said that as was the case with Stewart, the team plans to see how the remainder of the season plays out before making any kind of final decision. Hale, like Stewart, has an option on his contract for the 2017 season.
The D-backs have limed to a 53-74 record that is currently tied with the Padres for the second-worst in all of Major League Baseball this season. Injuries to the likes of A.J. Pollock, David Peralta, Chris Owings, Zack Greinke and Rubby De La Rosa (among others) have certainly played a significant role in that lackluster performance but have also magnified the poor results from a number of the team’s other recent personnel moves, prompting speculation about the futures of La Russa and Stewart.
The Diamondbacks appear to be on the verge of some much-needed good news, as manager Chip Hale suggested today that center fielder A.J. Pollock will likely be activated from the DL later this week. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic tweeted Hale’s comments.
Pollock’s season debut will come too late to help reverse a forgettable 2016 campaign. But it’s an enormous step for the organization, which entered the year with exceedingly high hopes only to fall into last place in the NL West.
For all the attention that has been paid to some questionable offseason decisions by the Arizona front office, there’s no doubt that the organization was trying to push its chips in to create a winner. The view was that a talented young core was worthy of supplementation.
Apart from star slugger Paul Goldschmidt, Pollock was the most important element in that assessment. He entered spring camp fresh off of a gem of a campaign in which he hit .315/.367/.498, popped twenty long balls and swiped 39 bags, and drew rave reviews with his glove in center. That not only made him one of the game’s best overall performers in 2015, but pushed his earning power up (resulting in a two-year, $10.25MM deal to buy out two of his three arbitration seasons) and created hopes of a sustained breakout for the season yet to come.
While the D-Backs’ chances at the postseason were more average than great to begin with, Pollock’s fractured elbow — which occurred just before the start of the season — dealt them a severe blow. Making things even worse, the team had dealt away its best remaining outfield defender (Ender Inciarte) in the deal to acquire Shelby Miller, stripping the team of a clear replacement up the middle.
The injury came with greater-than-usual long-term complications, too. Pollock previously missed an entire season of minor league action after fracturing his growth plate in the same elbow, and initial reports of his new injury suggested there was no known timeline for his return.
As it turns out, Pollock has seemingly fared somewhat better than might have been feared. He will be able to return for about five weeks of action and, so long as all goes well, enter spring at full speed. If his .433/.541/.733 slash line on his rehab assignment is any indication, Pollock will have no trouble picking up where he left off, though it remains to be seen whether the injury will have lasting effects.
A necessary search for quality pitching drove the Diamondbacks’ offseason acquisition of right-hander Shelby Miller, club chief baseball officer Tony La Russa said in defending the swap in comments to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. While the Arizona front office has obviously discussed that highly-scrutinized deal before, its ongoing relevance is heightened by recent rumblings of change in the baseball operations department.
Amidst reports of embarrassing missteps, Arizona’s upper management hasn’t yet committed to retaining La Russa, GM Dave Stewart, or other top baseball ops personnel. And a more recent report says that the ownership group has nixed several significant would-be actions by La Russa and company in recent weeks, suggesting at least some lack of alignment in the organization’s baseball decisionmaking.
The Miller deal, which followed the team’s out-of-nowhere signing of Zack Greinke, is Exhibit A in the detractors’ case against La Russa and Stewart. It is a powerful piece of evidence, because Arizona not only gave up solid and controllable MLB regular — Ender Inciarte — but parted with a quality pitching prospect in Aaron Blair and the just-drafted top overall pick in Dansby Swanson. In return, the D-Backs received a pitcher who didn’t really seem worth that package at the time, and who has gone on to suffer through an unimaginably bad 2016 season.
Because a transaction of that magnitude could end up altering a franchise’s trajectory, its success or failure carries significant weight in assessing front office performance. In that context, La Russa and Stewart have recently defended the swap — among other moves — as pressure mounts. The D-Backs currently hold the second-worst record in the National League, leading only the Braves — who are, of course, the rebuilding organization that sent Miller to Arizona.
- The process behind the Diamondbacks’ already-infamous trade for Shelby Miller is recapped by Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic, as the Snakes were intent on adding another top-caliber arm to pair with Zack Greinke last offseason. Names such as the Marlins’ Jose Fernandez and the Indians’ Danny Salazar were discussed but GM Dave Stewart said those clubs were asking for more than the D’Backs eventually gave up to land Miller from the Braves; both teams wanted A.J. Pollock and Miami also wanted Patrick Corbin. Once the Braves moved off Pollock themselves and the D’Backs made it clear that pretty much anyone else (including first overall pick Dansby Swanson) could be had, the trade came together quickly.
The Diamondbacks and Marlins had worked out a trade that would have sent Shelby Miller to Miami in exchange for three starting pitchers, only for Arizona ownership to shoot down the deal, a Marlins executive tells USA Today’s Bob Nightengale. The two sides had been linked in talks about Miller, with Miami right-handed pitching prospect Luis Castillo reportedly mentioned as a trade chip before Castillo was dealt to San Diego as part of the Marlins’ deal for Andrew Cashner.
As Nightengale writes (semi-facetiously), the reason given by D’Backs ownership was that such a trade “just wouldn’t look good,” considering the stunningly big trade package the Snakes gave up last winter to acquire Miller from the Braves. The same “wouldn’t look good” reasoning also impacted another ownership decision, as D’Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and GM Dave Stewart were considering replacing manager Chip Hale with Triple-A skipper Phil Nevin before being told that a managerial change wouldn’t happen.
Nightengale uses these ownership interventions to argue that La Russa, Stewart and senior VP of baseball operations De Jon Watson shouldn’t be blamed for the Diamondbacks’ struggles this season, nor should the trio be fired after less than two years on the job. The fate of Arizona’s front office is yet to be decided, as 2017 options for Stewart and Watson are up on August 31 and La Russa’s option is up after the season. As Fan Rag Sports’ Jon Heyman noted earlier this week and Nightengale reiterates here, D’Backs upper management is hoping to let August 31 pass without a decision so they can delay their choice until after the season.
Without knowing what exactly the Marlins were offering for Miller, it’s hard to say that ownership necessarily made the wrong move in nixing the trade. Obviously, Miami’s offer wouldn’t have come close to matching Dansby Swanson/Ender Inciarte/Aaron Blair, though the feeling could have been that La Russa and Stewart were selling low on Miller. The three pitchers on Miami’s end of the deal would have almost certainly been prospects, and there wouldn’t have been any blue chip arms in the group given the Marlins’ low-rated farm system.
Hale’s name has been on the hot seat for weeks, and a managerial change would’ve been less surprising than the D’Backs cutting bait on Miller after less than a season. It’s unknown if La Russa and Stewart were specifically planning to fire Hale or if they were still discussing the idea. Hale has a 130-156 record as Arizona’s manager and is is under contract for the 2017 season.
Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed will undergo season-ending hip surgery, reports Steve Gilbert of MLB.com (Twitter link). Ahmed has been on the disabled list since July 23 with a hip impingement, an issue that sprung up in June.
The 26-year-old Ahmed, whom Atlanta chose in the second round of the 2011 draft, joined the Diamondbacks organization in a 2012 trade involving Justin Upton and has been a regular in the majors since last season. Ahmed has been a drain on Arizona’s offense during that time, though, with a .223/.271/.335 batting line in 767 plate appearances. Among hitters with at least 750 PAs dating back to 2015, Ahmed ranks last in the majors in wRC+ (57).
While Ahmed’s work at the dish has left much to be desired, his defense has been a completely different story. Advanced metrics have assigned him excellent marks over the past year-plus. He ranks 13th out of all major league position players this season in Defensive Runs Saved (12), 22nd in Ultimate Zone Rating (7.9) and 19th in UZR/150 (13.2). It was a similar situation last year for Ahmed, who was sixth, 11th and seventh in those three categories.
The D-backs’ current shortstop, Chris Owings, doesn’t bring Ahmed’s defensive chops to the table, but he has hovered around the league-average mark offensively in two of the past three seasons (though he wasn’t nearly as effective in 2015). Owings’ current line of .283/.331/.413 (he’s also 12 of 12 on stolen base attempts) makes him a significant offensive upgrade over Ahmed.