The Diamondbacks have followed up an 85-win season in 2019 with a trio of noteworthy signings this winter. So far, they’ve added left-hander Madison Bumgarner for five years and $85MM, right fielder Kole Calhoun for two years and $16MM, and catcher Stephen Vogt on a one-year, $3MM pact.
The Bumgarner, Calhoun and Vogt moves have left the Diamondbacks with an estimated $115MM Opening-Day payroll for 2020, per Jason Martinez of Roster Resource, after they began each of the previous two years from $123MM to $131MM. With that in mind, there appears to be wiggle room remaining. As Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes, the Diamondbacks have indicated they plan to start next season in the $125MM range. As for how much money the club still has available, general manager Mike Hazen revealed it’s less than $12MM to $14MM.
“I’m not going to confirm one way or another what it is, but you’re off there high,” Hazen told Piecoro. “We still have flexibility to operate both within the free-agent market and the trade market to add pieces to our team.”
It seems adding a center fielder is still a priority for the Diamondbacks, with Hazen once again noting he’d “prefer” for Ketel Marte to handle second base instead. Marte – one of the most valuable players in baseball a season ago – spent the majority of 2019 in center, but he’s a middle infielder by trade.
At this point, one major problem for the Diamondbacks is that center field possibilities in free agency continue to decrease. They showed interest in Japanese import Shogo Akiyama, but he agreed to join the Reds on Monday. With Akiyama and the Yankees’ Brett Gardner off the board, it may be tough to find an everyday-caliber center fielder on a free-agent market that wasn’t overrun with them in the first place. Kevin Pillar’s unsigned after the NL West rival Giants non-tendered him Dec. 2, but there hasn’t been reported interested in him since from the Diamondbacks or anyone else.
All things considered, it could be trade or bust for Arizona, which has been connected to the top CFer on that market – the Pirates’ Starling Marte – this winter. Speculatively, the Red Sox’s Jackie Bradley Jr. could also be a target. Hazen’s familiar with Bradley from Boston, as he was part of the team’s front office when it drafted Bradley 40th overall in 2011 and remained part of its brain trust through 2016.
Marte and Bradley figure to each earn in the vicinity of $12MM next year, which means they should fit (barely) in Arizona’s payroll. But it remains to be seen whether the D-backs are willing to surrender the necessary assets to acquire either.