Arizona’s recent acquisition of Taijuan Walker gave the team quite a bit of depth in the rotation, and Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports that the D-backs have shown a willingness to listen to offers on their starters during this week’s Winter Meetings. Per Piecoro, the Diamondbacks are most open to moving left-hander Patrick Corbin and right-hander Shelby Miller. Elsewhere in the rotation, the Diamondbacks have Walker, Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, with young right-handers Braden Shipley and Archie Bradley behind them. The asking price on both starters has been lofty, Piecoro adds.
Miller is still young, as he’ll pitch next season at the age of 26, but his first season in Arizona was an enormous struggle, as he posted a 6.15 ERA and saw each of his K/9 rate (6.4), BB/9 rate (3.8), ground-ball rate (41.9 percent) and average fastball velocity (93 mph) trend in the wrong direction. Miller’s struggles led to a Triple-A demotion that would’ve seemed unfathomable on Opening Day, and he also spent time on the disabled list with a sprained index finger on his pitching hand.
While all of those red flags are cause for concern, Miller’s age and the fact that he’s just a season removed from 200+ innings with a 3.02 ERA could certainly make him an intriguing rebound candidate for teams on the hunt for pitching help. Furthermore, the demotion to the minors delayed his free agency by a season, so Miller is still controllable for three years before he’ll hit the open market. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects him to earn $4.9MM next year.
Corbin, 27, broke out for the D-backs in 2013 when he posted a 3.41 ERA in 208 1/3 innings with 7.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 46.7 percent ground-ball rate. Tommy John surgery wiped out his 2014 campaign, but Corbin looked similarly encouraging in a half season when he returned in 2015, totaling 85 innings with a 3.60 ERA, a higher strikeout rate (8.3 K/9) and a lower walk rate (1.8 BB/9). Like most of Arizona’s pitchers, though, Corbin found the 2016 season challenging and struggled to a 5.15 ERA in 155 2/3 innings. His walk rate spiked (3.8 BB/9), and though his ground-ball rate increased, Corbin struggled to strand runners and found himself increasingly susceptible to home runs. With two years of team control and an affordable $4.2MM arbitration projection from Swartz, Corbin makes financial sense for plenty of teams.
It’s not entirely clear exactly how high Arizona’s asking price is, though one exec speculated to Piecoro that the team might be seeking a potential starting catcher. Piecoro cites multiple sources in reporting that Red Sox GM Mike Hazen and his staff checked in with their former Red Sox colleagues on the availability of Blake Swihart and Christian Vazquez — not necessarily in connection to Miller or Corbin — so teams with readily available catching help could line up as potential trade partners.