Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen and president Derrick Hall chatted about the organization’s plans after the culmination of an exciting season, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports.
Both suggested an interest in continuity while also contemplating the possibility of some changes in the makeup of the roster. Certainly, there’ll be some complications as the organization seeks ways to improve the on-field result. Hazen downplayed financial considerations as a catalyst for roster moves, but both he and Hall acknowledged their import.
“I’m not anticipating a lot of challenges with being able to bring the group back as constituted if, in fact, that’s what we chose to do,” said Hazen. While “some changes” are to be anticipated, he said, “I don’t think a large majority of that will be driven by (finances) specifically.”
Hall was a bit more explicit about the limitations. Suggesting that the team has been a bit hasty in doubling down on prior quality seasons, he cited “the need for sustainability” in an offseason approach. Ultimately, said Hall, “we have to get creative in a few spots financially if we’re going to get aggressive in certain areas.”
It’s hard to guess just what kind of creative options might conceivably be pursued. The team could consider trading away some of its relatively more expensive players, though that seems to be quite a challenge from the outside. In all likelihood, Arizona would need to hang onto significant future obligations (or sweeten the pot with prospects) to move Zack Greinke or Yasmany Tomas. Trading or non-tendering arb-eligible players could result in some savings, though in almost all cases that would mean opening up corresponding holes.
While the Snakes have a relatively modest $60.5MM committed to 2018 payroll, that sum accounts for just four players. Indeed, more than half is ticketed for Greinke alone, which helps to illustrate just how relatively massive that commitment was and is for this organization. But that’s not the only source of salary. As Piecoro notes, the MLBTR arb projections call for a hefty tally of just over $50MM for Arizona.
This year, the D-Backs opened with a payroll in the $93MM range and ultimately topped out at around $105MM, per Piecoro. In the past, the Opening Day balance sheet has been as high as $112MM. Clearly, though, the club will approach or exceed that amount just by holding pat.
None of the above numbers account for star outfielder J.D. Martinez, who was added at the deadline and is now headed for free agency. There are others, too, who’ll need to be replaced — especially closer Fernando Rodney, relievers Jorge De La Rosa and David Hernandez, and catcher Chris Iannetta. Finding new players for those roles may not be prohibitively expensive, though as ever there’s generally a tradeoff between the cost and the quality of an asset.
Regarding Martinez, who’s expected to command a huge commitment after a monster season, the D-Backs say they’ll at least try to facilitate a return. In Hazen’s words, the club will “certainly stay engaged” with Martinez. Adding the kind of annual salary that the slugger could command would surely require a significant payroll boost and/or the shedding of some other major commitments.