Diamondbacks CEO Derrick Hall and chief baseball officer Tony La Russa both spoke with Zach Buchanan of the Arizona Republic, providing an interesting look ahead at the club’s important upcoming decisions.
The Diamondbacks’ payroll will likely be scaling back from $112MM to about $100MM in 2015, Hall says. He did hedge his comment a bit by saying, “If we think we can spend more, we’re going to.” The reduction in payroll isn’t surprising given that Arizona is looking at its worst single-season attendance total in franchise history. As Hall noted, as with any team or business, anticipated revenues constitute a constraint on spending plans. “The formula that really works for major league teams is to try and keep your payroll at about half of your revenues,” he said. “For us, that’s what we’re looking at.”
With just over $67MM already committed to the 2015 roster and arbitration raises coming for Cliff Pennington, David Hernandez, Wade Miley, Addison Reed and Mark Trumbo, it’s possible that some players will be non-tendered to help meet the organization’s spending targets. Pennington and Hernandez are the most obvious candidates of that group, though Buchanan mentions that some salary could be moved via trade as well.
In part, shedding some dollars may be necessary to accomplish the team’s offseason priorities. Said Hall:
“Obviously we know there are some holes we have to fill. We’ve talked about wanting to go out and get a bat and we’ve talked about wanting to get starting pitching, and in order to do that you’re either going to have to go through trade or free agency and either way you’re going to probably spend dollars on it. To spend more dollars, we’re probably going to have to find areas to save more dollars.”
Hall did note that, so far as starting pitching is concerned, the team sees greater depth in next year’s free agent market than this one. “We’re going to be active,” said Hall, “but just how competitive it gets with fewer arms where the next year the free-agent market is much bigger and brighter … we’re going to be active, but there’s no crystal ball that’ll tell me if we’re going to outbid other teams in larger markets.”
Of course, the first order of business is for the club to install a new general manager. Preliminary interviews have already been conducted with four of the team’s ten initial candidates, says Buchanan, with the team expected to both finish those talks and conduct second-round interviews within the next ten days or so.
Team managing partner Ken Kendrick is not expected to become involved in the process until it comes time to make a final decision on whomever Hall and La Russa want to hire. “As I told him, ’I don’t think you need to or I need to interview everybody now that we have Tony. Let’s let him do that and Tony and I can decide on the finalists,'” Hall said. “When we think we’ve picked the candidate, we’d like him (Kendrick) to sit down with him to make sure he’s comfortable with he or she as well.”
Beyond a new GM, the team is said to be considering other changes in its baseball decisionmaking. But widespread turnover seems not to be expected, with La Russa suggesting that the addition of statistical-oriented staff could come through the GM hire or a lower-level addition. “Baseball ops, I think we have a pretty healthy situation there as far as numbers, and everyone will be reviewed and analyzed,” said La Russa.
La Russa also emphasized that there is real interest in a continued relationship with former GM Kevin Towers, who will wait to see who replaces him before deciding whether to continue on with the organization. “I’ve said very clearly I’m distressed that the report was leaked early so that the initial headline said ’dismissed, fired,'” said La Russa. “That’s 180 degrees from the arrangement we have potentially. Kevin has got a lot he can offer.”