It has been an eventful offseason, perhaps unexpectedly, in Arizona. The club stayed on the periphery of the NL Wild Card race much of last season, but they never had especially strong postseason odds. Ultimately, they did fall short, finishing four games back of the Brewers for the final playoff spot. They were certainly not a bad team, going 85-77, but they were hardly dominant.
Entering the offseason, the club looked positioned to be relatively active. They had some payroll flexibility already, and they freed up more room on the books by non-tendering Taijuan Walker and Steven Souza, Jr. Nevertheless, it came as a bit of a surprise to see the Snakes act as aggressively as they have this winter.
That activity started in mid-December, when they brought in Madison Bumgarner from the division-rival Giants on a backloaded five-year, $85MM contract. Shortly thereafter came the signing of Kole Calhoun on a two-year, $16MM deal (with a club option for a third year). Calhoun, the Angels’ decision to decline his team option for 2020 notwithstanding, had a productive bounceback effort in 2019, putting up a .232/.325/.467 slash (108 wRC+) with his customary solid defense. He’ll presumably line up alongside the recently-extended David Peralta as the Snakes’ top two corner outfielders.
Between Calhoun and Peralta will be a Marte, but not the one who manned center most often in the desert last offseason. Starling Marté was brought aboard in a trade with Pittsburgh this week, a move MLBTR readers generally approved of. That frees up star Ketel Marte to move back to second base, where the club got mediocre production last season and faced the free agent departure of Wilmer Flores.
Beyond Ketel Marte, there’s not a true star on the roster, but there are very few obvious weaknesses, either. Carson Kelly, Christian Walker, Eduardo Escobar, and Nick Ahmed round out the projected lineup. Bumgarner and Robbie Ray figure to front a rotation hoping for full seasons from midseason trade acquisition Zac Gallen and the returning Luke Weaver.
There’s probably not many more noteworthy moves coming this offseason. Per Roster Resource, the Starling Marté trade brought the club to an estimated $123MM payroll. That’s generally in line with their expenditures in recent seasons. Furthermore, GM Mike Hazen threw cold water on the idea of blowing past prior spending levels in December.
So, if this is indeed the team Arizona will head into the season with, just how good are they? Can they threaten the perennial powerhouse Dodgers in the NL West? Have they done enough to at least position themselves as a Wild Card favorite?
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