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The Diamondbacks followed up their surprise run to the NLDS in 2017 by leading the way in the NL West for much of 2018, though an ugly late-season fade (11-24 over their last 35 games) left them with just an 82-80 record. Now, with the D’Backs facing an already-tight payroll situation and the likely departure of some major free agents, the team could appears to be at a crossroads.
- Zack Greinke, SP: $95.5MM through 2021
- Ketel Marte, 2B: $20MM through 2022 (includes buyouts of 2023-24 club options)
- Alex Avila, C: $4.25MM through 2019
- Jarrod Dyson, OF: $3.5MM through 2019
- Yoshihisa Hirano, RP: $3MM through 2019
Arbitration Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)
- David Peralta – $7.7MM
- Robbie Ray – $6.1MM
- Shelby Miller – $4.9MM
- Brad Boxberger – $4.9MM
- Taijuan Walker – $4.825MM
- Jake Lamb – $4.7MM
- Steven Souza Jr. – $4.0MM
- Chris Owings – $3.6MM
- Nick Ahmed – $3.1MM
- Archie Bradley – $2.0MM
- Andrew Chafin – $1.8MM
- T.J. McFarland – $1.4MM
- Matt Andriese – $1.1MM
- John Ryan Murphy – $1.1MM
- Non-tender candidates: Miller, Boxberger, Owings, Murphy
- Yasmany Tomas, OF: $32.5MM player option for the 2019-20 seasons ($15.MM in 2019, $17MM in 2020)
- Paul Goldschmidt, 1B: $14.5MM club option for 2019 ($2MM buyout)
- Patrick Corbin, A.J. Pollock, Eduardo Escobar, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Descalso, Jeff Mathis, Jon Jay, Randall Delgado, Jake Diekman, Chris Stewart, Brad Ziegler (retiring)
[Diamondbacks Offseason Depth Chart | Diamondbacks Payroll Information]
The D’Backs spent a club-record $131.56MM on payroll last season, and they’d approach that figure again in 2019 on returning salaries and arbitration numbers alone. Since Paul Goldschmidt’s club option and Yasmany Tomas’s player option are both virtual locks to be exercised, there’ll be roughly $77.4MM in guaranteed money on the books for next year’s payroll. The Snakes will have to decide whether to dole out a projected $51.125MM owed to a whopping 14-player arbitration class.
Keeping all those players would put Arizona over the $128MM mark, leaving the team ill-equipped to re-sign their two biggest free agents. Patrick Corbin will be one of the most highly sought-after players on the open market this winter, while A.J. Pollock also projects for a solid multi-year deal, even if he has battled injuries over the last few seasons. Finding suitable replacements at a palatable salary level would likely mean giving up precious young talent in trade.
Whether or not the Snakes view themselves as near-term contenders, then, some paring of arb-eligible players seems likely. Judicious non-tendering might just create enough room to retain a second-tier option like Clay Buchholz or Eduardo Escobar. For instance, $9.6MM could be saved by parting ways with Shelby Miller, Chris Owings, and John Ryan Murphy. It’s possible the D’Backs could be forced to sell low by trading notable arb-eligibles like Jake Lamb, Steven Souza Jr., or Brad Boxberger. All three players are in that unwelcome gray area of perhaps being too valuable to non-tender, yet lacking in trade value in the wake of disappointing seasons. Lamb and Souza at least come with future control rights via arbitration, increasing their value to Arizona. In the case of Boxberger, who struggled down the stretch and is entering his walk year, it could be that he’ll be dangled in trades in advance of the non-tender deadline.
Suffice to say, the Diamondbacks are in a tight spot, and GM Mike Hazen may now be facing the rebuild that many pundits expected to come when he was first hired two years ago. The general manager has already said that the team will first look to make some trades, and try to “be creative” when it comes to formulating next year’s roster. While a full teardown doesn’t appear to be in the cards just yet, some reshuffling of the deck, at a minimum, seems likely.
Let’s break down the two choices facing the Diamondbacks, beginning with the straight-forward total rebuild option. In this scenario, you’d see the team shop virtually all of their most valued short-term assets (i.e. Goldschmidt, Robbie Ray, David Peralta, Archie Bradley and more) in order to add some much-needed depth to a farm system whose best prospects may be a few years away. Trading Greinke would be the most obvious way to alleviate the payroll crunch, though his contact is so hefty that the D’Backs might still need to eat some money to facilitate a trade, despite Greinke pitching like one of baseball’s best starters over the last two years. On the other hand, it’s arguable he isn’t owed that much more than he’d be worth in free agency. Some clubs may prefer that three-year pact to a bidding war for Corbin or Clayton Kershaw.
Given the number of quality players on the roster, the D’Backs could shave a lot of financial obligations and also recoup enough big league-ready young talent to hope to return to contention as early as 2021. The Diamondbacks’ solid roster, however, is also the reason why a “creative” solution might be more palatable to Hazen and company than entering into a full rebuild this offseason. An argument can certainly be made that the Snakes could aim to contend next season while they still have Goldschmidt — who could also still be an offseason extension target — and then pivot to becoming sellers at the trade deadline if things don’t work out. In that case, the club would be prepared to start the rebuild next winter by selling off the players who are still controlled through 2020 (such as Ray, Peralta, Souza, and Taijuan Walker, assuming Walker recovers well from Tommy John surgery).
The alternative to a sell-off, then, would be strategically carving out some payroll space while still aiming to compete next season. There are no shortage of possibilities about how the Diamondbacks could try to do this, though obviously it’d be a difficult proposition to truly stay competitive without creating further long-term problems. It also doesn’t help matters that the D’Backs don’t have a ton of MLB-ready youngsters capable of stepping into spots left open by traded players — the likes of Ildemaro Vargas, Kevin Cron, or Kevin Medrano will probably be on the big league roster at some point in 2019, though can’t be expected to be play regular roles on a contender.
Speculation has already begun about a potential Goldschmidt trade, and there’s no shortage of pain in trading away a face-of-the-franchise player who has hit at a borderline Cooperstown-level pace for virtually his entire career. As painful as it would be to deal the star first baseman, however, it would also be the most boldly pragmatic move Hazen could make. Goldschmidt is only controlled through 2019, he’d net easily the biggest trade return of any veteran asset on the roster, and there are several other first base options available in trades or in free agency who could at least partially replicate Goldschmidt’s production. This is just my speculation, but if the D’Backs can find a trade partner with enough payroll space, they could move both Goldschmidt and Tomas in the same deal, taking a fairly light prospect return for the sake of getting Tomas’s albatross contract off the books. This would create a ton of additional payroll flexibility, though the team would have to have a clear strategy in mind to reinvest the money wisely — not only to boost the 2019 outlook but also to avoid unwanted long-term obligations.
It’d be an awfully bold strategy, to be sure, but moving Goldschmidt could help Arizona address several other holes around the roster. Center field is the most obvious area with Pollock’s likely departure, as Jarrod Dyson is more suited as bench depth than as a viable everyday option. The D’Backs are also hoping that Souza and Lamb can rebound from injury-shortened seasons so that right field and third base can be solidified, though I’d expect the team to pursue some type of right-handed hitting utility infield depth anyway to account for Lamb’s struggles against southpaws. Re-signing Daniel Descalso would be a boost, as Descalso was a valuable asset filling in for Lamb at the hot corner last year, and also sharing time with Ketel Marte at second base.
Arizona has been only a modest player in free agency during Hazen’s regime, so even re-signing a player like Escobar would require a bigger dive into the open market than the club has been willing to make for the last two offseasons. The 29-year-old will merit a solid multi-year commitment as he comes off the best season of his career, though it wouldn’t be a bank-breaking price tag, and Escobar does offer more versatility as a switch-hitter and a player capable of filling in at multiple infield positions. Even if the D’Backs did prefer to utilize Escobar primarily as a third baseman again, he could represent enough of an upgrade over Lamb that the team could take the plunge.
Elsewhere around the diamond, Arizona will hope that Marte can continue to progress at the plate after posting a career-best 104 wRC+ in 2018. Defensive standout Nick Ahmed will likely remain as the everyday shortstop, and the D’Backs will probably try to take another glove-first approach at catcher, as the Athletic’s Zach Buchanan recently argued that Jeff Mathis was the best positional fit of any of the team’s free agents. Mathis and Alex Avila were by some measures baseball’s best defensive tandem behind the plate, though if the veteran Mathis can’t be re-signed, the D’Backs could look into adding a catcher with a bit more offensive pop.
Dyson brings enough pluses as a defender and baserunner that the Diamondbacks could use him as the left-handed hitting half of a center field platoon, which would leave Arizona only looking for a righty bat to share time (a free agent like Cameron Maybin would be a good fit in this scenario). Alternatively, Peralta could be moved into center field, though Peralta probably projects best as a corner outfielder. The D’Backs might also not want shift Peralta again since, after being installed as the everyday left fielder last season, he delivered the best year of his career, hitting .293/.352/.516 with 30 homers over 614 PA.
Peralta and Ray are the Diamondbacks’ top trade chips if they balk at dealing Goldschmidt, or if Greinke’s contract prevents them from finding a trade partner. These two are less likely to be dealt, in my opinion, since losing either would drastically weaken a position that is already taking a hit. Losing both Pollock and Peralta would be a huge blow to the outfield, while the rotation would suffer from losing Ray when Corbin and Buchholz could depart.
Greinke, Ray, and Zack Godley are the only sure bets in the rotation as things stand, with Miller (if he isn’t non-tendered), Matt Koch, and Matt Andriese looking like the top candidates for the final two spots. Walker will also hopefully re-enter the picture at midseason upon his recovery from Tommy John surgery, Braden Shipley is Triple-A depth, and top prospects Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener could also be ready later in the season.
There’s certainly room here for Buchholz to return, as the veteran proved to be one of the year’s best minor league signings. Health is always a question with Buchholz, and his season was prematurely ended by a flexor mass strain in his throwing elbow, though this latest injury could actually work in Arizona’s favor if the team wanted to retain him. Buchholz’s asking price could fall into a palatable range for the Diamondbacks if other teams are scared off by the elbow problem, and the D’Backs certainly are the most familiar of anyone with Buchholz’s health status. If Buchholz doesn’t return, the Snakes could look at other low-cost veteran arms to compete for a starting job, or consider using the bullpen and a Rays-style “opener” to address a rotation spot.
Speaking of the pen, the closer’s job is up for grabs after Boxberger’s struggles at limiting walks and homers cost him the role down the stretch. It’s possible the Diamondbacks could forego a full-time closer altogether, as they adopted a committee approach in September upon removing Boxberger from the job, though I would guess they might bring in an inexpensive veteran reliever with closing experience to provide added depth. Names like Sergio Romo or former D’Back Fernando Rodney might be fits in this regard on the free agent market. Arizona could also stand to add a bit of extra left-handed depth, though the team already has an overall solid group of relievers.
As per Hazen, the Diamondbacks have several organizational meetings planned in the coming weeks, and if the club will indeed gauge the trade market first, we may have to wait until the Winter Meetings in December before we get a true sense of the Snakes’ approach for the offseason. Whether the D’Backs become baseball’s most popular seller or instead attempt to perform a tough balancing act, Arizona is poised to have a fascinating offseason of potentially pivotal importance to the franchise’s outlook.
Yasmani Thomas should have contract, over course of next two seasons, reduced by about $400, which should reflect an average 24 month household purchase of Powerball tickets.
*Yasmany Tomas. Whatever, he’s forgettable.
That Grenke contact is weighing them down like a boat anchor
At least Grenke produces. Thomas is the true albatross here without question.
Grenke cost more than 1,000,000 per start or 12,000 dollars per pitch. Win or lose it bad and I don’t think anybody would take his contract unless paid more than 50 % of his salary for remainder of deal.
Grienke has rung up ace numbers and made over 30 starts in both of the last two seasons. Claiming that kind of production is worth less than $18M a year in the current market is just plain silly.
not just that,but you also have to consider he is putting those numbers up in Arizona which is a small ballpark in hitter friendly weather.
Grenke was going to sign with Los Angles and Arizona was trying to make Los Angles pay more by running him up . Los angles knew what there max salary for him was so they stopped and Arizona was stuck with him and his 1,000,000 per start. They deserved what they got.
Yep especially for a team looking to rebuild
Arizona got Grenke in free agent just to keep LA from having him and Kershaw Overpaid what even LA would pay. They are stuck with him as a bad contract mainly because of all the money they gave him. You should never sign a free agent to mega contract for spite will hurt Arizona for 10 years when you also add in tomas contract.
Greinke and Peralta to the Braves for Teheran and 3 ML pitchers TBN.
Actually I was thinking of $20 million, Greinke, Peralta and Hirano to Atlanta for Teheran, Allard, Luke Jackson, Jose Ramirez and Alex Jackson.
That would give Atlanta an ace like starter, an almost everyday quality corner outfielder, a quality reliever and some cash in exchange for an experienced starting pitcher (in need of a change of scenery), a young left-handed starter, two bullpen pitchers, and a upper minors bat first catching prospect.
I have a feeling both sides would complain (which generally signals it is at least in the neighborhood of fair).
No more trades with ATL. I think they gave enough to them.
I actually think it is a very fair trade. it would be one to benefit both teams.
D-Backs could be the most interesting team in the off season. Do they make one more push? Tear it all up? Try to negotiate the middle? How “creative” can Hazen be? Where does the new stadium fit in?
Much more interesting than seeing which of the Big Boys fall over themselves over Machado/Harper……
They’ve got some good people out there. But what will they do?
The D-Backs have to make one more push with Goldy under contract. I just don’t see them folding until he’s traded.
I tend to agree….the windows for all the NL West teams might be closing quick…Padres really ARE loaded for 2020…..them and LA (just because of money) figure to be the big players for the next few years…..might as well go for the gusto (or Goldssmith, as it were)….
why take a long shot with a team that won’t be as good. If they rebuild now they can do it in 2 years or so . if they wait to long they will take 5 or 6 years.
They can sign Markakis to replace Pollock. I got a feeling his demand isn’t going to be robust. Find some bullpen scrap heap guys and hive it a go. Can always sell Goldy at the break.
I think the D’Backs need to try and contend for this coming year with Goldy. They wont get what he’s worth in trade, so might as well sign a couple players to make one more push. Try and sign him long term, or let him walk with a Q/O and take the draft pick. Or, if they are out of it at the deadline and the Yanks or Red Sox need a 1B… they will over pay for him.
Exchange Greinke and Goldschmidt with the Yankees for Ellsbury, Voit, Andujar, cash and prospects.
Then the Yanks can go ahead and land Machado and LeMahieu.
stan lee the manly
No way ellsbury gets included in this list with both greinke and goldschmidt unless you are talking a boatload of upper-tier prospects. Getting rid of that contract is a pipe dream
Two years left he can be cut like Jason Bay.
Plus the Yanks collected insurance money the entire year.
There’s no real worry to trade him is the point I’m making but if you have a terrible long term contract and want to unload money you will have to take a awful contract back. I’m not saying Grienke contract is terrible since he’s producing but based on money, his age, and the fact he’s precluding the team from resigning players perhaps then maybe it’s time to love him for a bad contract plus to save a ton of money.
stan lee the manly
Cutting ellsbury doesn’t get rid of his contract, they still have to pay him. Greinke is nowhere near comparable because he is still able to get results on the field. He’s still going to net a return regardless of his contract because of the quality of his pitching
You have two LF’s in that lineup. There’s no way a fantastic RF such as Judge would move to Left. Gardner is gone, and that whole lineup is too RH…
Fantasy leagues for baseball are over.
He forgot the trade of Tyler Wade for Mike Trout…
Yankee fans are funny.
Yeah, seems easy enough. I don’t see a yankee fan assuming that they will get some of the best players on the market this offseason.
It’s sad that this is just a start.
This is pure psycobabble.
How’s the weather in fantasy land today?
The yanks don’t want to tie up all there payroll
The Yankees are not trading Ellsbury to ANYBODY!!! Unless they pay all of his contract in doing so….or 90% of it at least!
What other prospects are you sending to the Dbacks along with Andujar and Voit? I mean the Dbacks are not going to just take some low A minor league guys for Greinke and Goldy! So are the Yankees willing to include Sheffield? Florial? Loaisiga? It will take at least 1 of those 3, maybe 2!
Plus the Dbacks may want to trade Greinke and Goldy in separate deals. They may be able to get even more prospects from someone for just Goldy and then get more for Greinke by paying more of his contract in return.
Also the Dbacks may not want Andujar! The Dbacks are one of the best defensive teams in baseball and have been for a few years. Yes they need more offense, but I don’t know they would want to sacrifice that much defense at 3rd base. That is just my opinion.
Machado and LeMahieu would be nice, but you also have to remember they are competing with everyone else for their services as well…Ok not everyone else, because not everyone can afford Machado.
Had to check your claim about their defense. Since 2015, the D-Backs have the most DRS at 211, which is nice until you see they have a -10.4 Def metric at Fangraphs. Just thought that was interesting.
Only Dback Yanks should get is Corbin. FA. Dbacks want to to shed salary no reason to take Ellsbury. If they are going to trade Goldschmidt, better for them to get back quality young talent. Grienke has full no trade. If they can and want to trade him before deadline for best haul. They have talent, if they they can get rid of one bad contract. They could stay in it. Who was the GM who gave Tomas that contract?
I can see the Mariners making a play for Ellsbury with the Yanks eating some contract and throwing in a prospect in the 5-10 range.
We need left handed bats, we need situational hitters, we need speed off the bench and we need improved defense!
Daniel Murphy fits the situational left handed bat, Tyler Wade and Hecheverria fit speed off bench plus defense.
We don’t need Machado mentality disrupting the young clubhouse culture.
Machado is a better defender and better situational hitter than Andujar
its not a video game
That’s right my man
justus sheffield would have to be one of the prospects in this deal
It may not be a popular position, but i think the Cards FO should see if they can get Lamb from the D-Backs. His injury would mean selling below a price than what the D-Backs would like, but they are in need of a full rebuild and the Cards have some good young pitching that can help them towards that goal.
But Lamb really is much, if any, of an upgrade over Gyrko.
If the D’backs are set on rebuilding, maybe they should see what they could get for Ketel Marte because I’m pretty sure his potential could land them a couple top 100 prospects (kinda like the Yelich trade).
Sorry but even with his struggles coming back from the DL this year there is no possible way Miller get’s DFA’d. You will not find a potential high upside #4 starter anywhere for as cheap as $4.9 to $5 million.
Arizona should sign Goldy long term!!!!
He’s a potential hall of fame player and best player they have ever developed!
Trade Grienke for a bad contract in 25million dollar range and a decent prospect(s).
why have a star on a losing team when you could have a winner in 2 years with new stars. players come and go
No way Arizona can rebuild in 2-3 more like 4-7. Arizona makes to many bad trades and can’t evaluate talent.
Better to trade him for a haul then bring him back in a year (see: the Yankees and Aroldis Chapman)
Or see the Blue Jay’s and Donaldson. They played that completely wrong.
What do we know about the revenue side of the D’backs situation? If I remember right they are looking at more income from their media contract in coming years. They are in a tight spot no matter what (on the verge of a rebuild), but it might not be right to assume that they can’t afford to increase payroll beyond this year’s record.
Hey D-Backs, what about Bridwell, Cozart and Calhoun for Greinke?
So if Greinke were a free agent today, what do y’all think he’d get?
3 years 60 to 70 million
So pay $12m of his contract per year the next 3 years and take back like an org filler?
At his age I’m guessing 3/60
So, why the picture of David Schwimmer?
The D’backs would be wise to start the rebuild this off-season. Their farm system is thin, but they do have two impressive pitchers down there in Widener and Duplantier if he can get/stay healthy.
Now, it would kickstart a rebuild in a big way if they dealt Goldschmidt, but if they have a real belief an extension is possible, why not hold onto him? Arizona could add enough quality prospects to the organization without dealing the face of their franchise.
Let’s start with Greinke: His age and contract hamper his value on the trade market , but if the D’backs are willing to eat significant money, now is likely their last best opportunity to trade him. Dealing Greinke likely isn’t going to net ARI an elite return no matter how much money they throw in, but at the very least, it would free up whatever cash they don’t include and add some depth to the farm.
Where the Diamondbacks could really start adding some quality minor league talent would be by trading David Peralta and Robbie Ray. Marte would likely attract quite a bit of interest if made available, but I think they should hold onto him under his current contract. Furthermore, If T. Walker returns strong (and timely) from TJ surgery, and Godley rebounds, one, or both, could become valuable mid-season trade candidates. Relievers Hirano, Bradley, Chafin, and McFarland all would likely have decent value on the trade market as well. Out of that group though, Hirano is the guy I think they should push to trade as his value is unlikely to increase given he’ll be 35 in March.
All in all, an interesting off-season awaits the Diamondbacks!
Its gonna be an interesting offseason. I don’t think they resign Pollock or Corbin so that will almost guarantee a rebuild. I think Corbin should be resigned but i feel he will be way out of AZ’s range. Greinke has to go, no matter how that contract has to be reduced for payroll flexibility. Tomas also has to go but i feel it will be next to impossible to move him without giving up too much. Which leads me to thinking Goldschmidt has to be traded this offseason. The prospect haul will be too rich not to do. That opens the door for throwing Tomas at first just to get some kind of use for him and his atrocious contact. I don’t think it has to be a gut, but a good change of direction won’t hurt.
You probably wont find a bigger Shelby Miller hater than me, but for less than 5MM i disagree he’s a non-tender candidate. For that price he’s worth the slim hope of discovering himself and sell high at the trade deadline.
Resigning Mathis would be wise, Avila should be left in the desert without a map.
Overall i don’t see a possible way this team can get “creative” and still be respectable enough to stay with LA.
I agree with your point on Miller. Boy, has that guy been a bummer for Arizona! From the trade, to an awful first season, to tommy john surgery, to more nagging issues.
However, like you said, at under 5m, why not hold onto him with the hope he can stay healthy and maybe rebounds? Let’s say the D’backs did start the rebuild this off-season (they absolutely should), that means they’d potentially trade guys like Peralta, Ray, maybe even Goldschmidt, etc., which would free up quite a bit of salary space. Subsequently, there would be more than enough money available for the D’backs to justify bringing back Miller who in a perfect world, could become trade bait down the road.
The problem with Miller was always his fastballs were always hard straight and low, ( launch angle like hitting fastballs off a tee )That’s how the games used to be called, low and on the corner. Now if the pitch isn’t in the upper third of the strike zone its low.
Time for an electronic strike zone.
On Roster Source, the Arizona depth chart doesn’t have Corbin or Pollock. They are free agents this off season, but guys like Harper and Haap are still listed with their teams.
Doesn’t make sense.
Corbin has been good but underwent tj surgery a few years ago.
Diamondbacks should at least play Thomas to see if any value can be brought back though a trade. They are not the dodgers, throwing huge amounts of money in amateur free agents to see what sticks.
Tomas cant hit in a hitter friendly AAA league (.280 obp). Not to mention garbage defense. Its a sunk cost from the Dave Stewart, Dejon watson uber fail years. No one will touch that contract without a top 50-75 prospect coming back.