- The Diamondbacks are still looking to add to the bullpen this offseason, general manager Mike Hazen tells Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. It has been a rather quiet winter in Phoenix outside of the franchise-altering trade sending face of the franchise Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis. As the D-backs have worked to pare back payroll and embark on something of a soft reset, they’ve made some small-scale moves such as the signing of Wilmer Flores and Merrill Kelly (on top of the MLB-level talent added for Goldy). Plus, of course, the club kicked things off by re-upping Eduardo Escobar just before he hit the open market. Plenty of chatter has focused on the team’s remaining potential trade candidates, particularly in the pitching staff, but it’s not clear whether much possibility of tht remains. Regardless, it seems prudent for the organization to pursue some relief arms, given the course it has taken to this point. Presumably, any ’pen additions would be of the measured variety, as the Snakes gear up for what looks likely to be a still-competitive but mostly transitional year.
- The Diamondbacks signed catcher Alberto Rosario to a minor league deal, Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reports. The 32-year-old backstop will return for his second season in Arizona’s organization. Rosario hit .253/.288/.313 over 179 combined plate appearances for the Snakes’ Double-A and Triple-A affiliates in 2018, missing over two months of the season to a pair of DL stints. A veteran of 13 professional seasons, Rosario appeared in 23 big league games with the Cardinals in 2016-17.
- Adrian Gonzalez worked out for the Tigers, Royals and Diamondbacks this past week, tweets J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group. The five-time All-Star, who is hoping to continue his career in 2019, batted .237/.299/.373 with six homers in 187 plate appearances with the Mets last season before being cut loose. Detroit would seem to have the most playing time available for the soon-to-be 37-year-old Gonzalez, though he could certainly serve as a veteran bat off the bench in either Kansas City or Arizona. The two American League teams are, of course, a better on-paper fit given that Gonzalez could spend some time at DH in either spot.
8:22pm: MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweets that McFarland will earn $1.4MM in 2019, and his 2020 option is valued at $1.85MM with a $50K buyout (thus comprising the $1.45MM guarantee).
7:59pm: The D-backs announced Wednesday night that they’ve avoided arbitration with left-handed reliever T.J. McFarland. The southpaw’s one-year contract also includes a club option for the 2020 season. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets that the two sides settled at a $1.45MM salary for the upcoming season.
McFarland, an Octagon client, enjoyed a career year with the Diamondbacks this past season, pitching to a flat 2.00 ERA with 5.3 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 0.50 HR/9 and a whopping 67.9 percent ground-ball rate in 72 innings out of the bullpen. The former Orioles hurler was particularly lethal against left-handed opponents, who managed a downright pitiful .163/.182/.206 slash against McFarland in 100 plate appearances. After earning a modest $850K salary in 2018, McFarland and his reps filed for nearly double that sum in arbitration, countering Arizona’s $1.275MM figure with a $1.675MM submission.
[Related: MLBTR 2019 Arbitration Tracker]
The club option on McFarland’s deal will cover what would be his final season of arbitration, meaning the two sides have most likely avoided a hearing not only this offseason but next offseason as well. Technically speaking, the D-backs could decline the option and retain McFarland as an arb-eligible player for his final season of control. However, it’s likelier that if McFarland pitches well, they’ll simply exercise his option or, if he performs poorly, that the Diamondbacks would move on entirely.
The Diamondbacks have agreed to a minor-league deal with outfielder Travis Snider, according to Matt Eddy of Baseball America (via Twitter). It’s not evident whether it includes an invitation to MLB Spring Training.
Snider, 30, has spent eight years in the big leagues, compiling nearly two thousand plate appearances along the way. The former top prospect had some productive campaigns, but never established himself as more than a part-time player. All told, he’s a .244/.311/.399 hitter in the big leagues.
It has been three seasons now since Snider touched the majors. After a tepid 2015 campaign, Snider played the ensuing two seasons on minor-league deals. He found himself out of the affiliated ranks altogether in 2018, instead heading to the indy ball circuit and posting a .290/.374/.463 slash in his 404 plate appearances for the Long Island Ducks.
The vast majority of Snider’s opportunities in the majors came against right-handed pitching. It’s likely he’ll be viewed as a platoon option moving forward — if, that is, he can show enough in the upper minors to get a chance if a need arises.
The Diamondbacks announced Monday that they’ve designated left-hander Jared Miller for assignment. His roster spot will go to infielder Wilmer Flores, whose previously reported one-year deal with the team has now been officially announced.
Miller, 25, hasn’t yet cracked the big leagues but was added to the 40-man roster last winter. At the time, he was coming off of an impressive 2017 campaign that he split nearly evenly between Double-A and Triple-A. Miller threw 70 2/3 innings of 2.93 ERA ball with 12.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9, seemingly setting the stage for an eventual MLB opportunity in the season to come.
Unfortunately, though he had never before exhibited such issues, Miller exhibited dramatic control problems in 2018. Through 42 Triple-A innings, he handed out 63 free passes to go with 59 strikeouts. Unsurprisingly, the results (7.71 ERA) were not pleasant. Still, it seems there’s significant raw potential remaining in Miller’s left arm.
Jan. 21: The Diamondbacks have formally announced the signing.
Jan. 16, 3:00pm: Flores’ contract guarantees him $4.25MM, Passan tweets. He’ll earn a $3.75MM base salary in 2019 and have a $500K buyout on a $6MM option for the 2020 season.
2:22pm: The Diamondbacks are in agreement on a one-year contract with free-agent infielder Wilmer Flores, reports Jeff Passan of ESPN (via Twitter). The contract also contains a club option for a second season. Passan’s colleague, Pedro Gomez, had previously tweeted that the McNamara Baseball Group client was closing in on a deal with an NL West club, and Fancred’s Jon Heyman listed the D-backs as one of his suitors shortly thereafter. The deal is still pending completion of a physical.
Flores, 27, was non-tendered by the Mets earlier this winter in his final offseason or arbitration eligibility. He’d been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $4.7MM, and the new-look Mets front office felt that sum to be too costly coming given the team’s crowded infield mix (which has since become more cluttered) and a diagnosis of early onset arthritis in both knees.
Last season, Flores hit .267/.319/.417 with 11 homers and 25 doubles in 386 trips to the plate while seeing time at first base, second base, third base and (during interleague play) designated hitter for the Mets. That production is more or less in line with what Flores had done in each of the past two seasons, but it’s worth noting that Flores’ output against left-handed pitching cratered last season.
Typically, Flores’ right-handed bat is a thorn in the side of opposing southpaws, but he instead mustered a timid .237/.284/.326 slash in 135 plate appearances with the platoon advantage. That’s a far cry from the .314/.349/.620 slash that Flores registered in 324 PAs against lefties from 2015-17 and was obviously a cause for concern among Mets decision-makers.
With the Diamondbacks, Flores can bounce around the infield, giving the Snakes a right-handed complement to Jake Lamb (who struggles mightily against lefties) while also spelling Ketel Marte at second base. There’s also been talk of moving Marte to center field, and the addition of Flores could make that transition easier on the Diamondbacks, should Marte prove adept in the outfield come Spring Training. At the very least, perhaps Arizona could play Marte in center field against lefties and deploy Flores at second base those days, thus giving Jarrod Dyson (who has also struggled against southpaws in his career) some protection from same-handed pitchers.
The D-backs may not done adding complementary pieces to their infield and outfield mix, so it’s possible, too, that future signings/acquisitions will further shed some light on the manner in which the organization plans to utilize Flores.
- There are “indications” that the Diamondbacks plan to utilize newly signed Wilmer Flores as their second baseman in 2019, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. Doing so would allow them to shift Ketel Marte to the outfield as their new primary center fielder. It’d be an unfamiliar position for Marte, but the move is something that’s been discussed for some time now. (The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan noted as much all the way back in October). As Piecoro notes, the D-backs’ defensive alignment figures to look quite a bit different; Jake Lamb is slated to move across the diamond to first base following the trade of Paul Goldschmidt, with Eduardo Escobar slotting in as the primary third baseman. Nick Ahmed (shortstop), Flores (second base) and Marte (center field) could line up on the middle of the diamond, with David Peralta and Steven Souza Jr. flanking Marte in center.
The Yankees announced Wednesday that they’ve traded infielder/outfielder Tim Locastro to the Diamondbacks in exchange for minor league lefty Ronald Roman and cash. Locastro was designated for assignment earlier this week in order to open a spot on the Yankees’ roster for DJ LeMahieu. Arizona’s acquisition of Locastro fills the team’s 40-man roster.
Locastro, 26, has just 15 MLB plate appearances to his name, but he’s a .307/.402/.443 hitter with six homers, 33 doubles, two triples and 30 stolen bases (in 34 attempts) in just 114 games of Triple-A experience in the Dodgers’ system. New York acquired him from the Dodgers earlier this offseason, but Locastro didn’t last the full offseason on the Yankees’ 40-man roster following several infield additions, including LeMahieu and Troy Tulowitzki.
Locastro has played all over the field in the minors and has spent most of his time at second base and shortstop. He does have a pair of options remaining, and he’ll give the D-backs some additional depth in both the infield and the outfield following today’s reported agreement with former Mets infielder Wilmer Flores (for which they’ll now need to make a corresponding move following the acquisition of Locastro).
As for the 17-year-old Roman, he’s yet to even begin his professional career with the D-backs in earnest. He signed as an international amateur free agent out of the Dominican Republic back on July 2 when this year’s international class kicked off and has not pitched for any of the team’s Rookie-level affiliates. He’ll presumably head to the Yankees’ affiliate in the Dominican Summer League this coming season, where he’ll make his in-game pro debut.
- Left-hander Tyler Matzek has agreed to a minor league contract with the Diamondbacks, tweets Robert Murray of The Athletic. Once the No. 11 overall pick in the draft (2009, Rockies), Matzek was considered one of the game’s premier pitching prospects at one point but has persistently battled control problems throughout his pro career. Matzek has a 4.06 ERA with 6.8 K/9 against 4.1 BB/9 in 139 2/3 big league innings, but he’s averaged 6.5 walks per nine innings in parts of seven minor league seasons. Matzek hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2015 and spent the 2018 season with the Texas AirHogs of the independent American Association, where his control troubles continued. In 88 2/3 innings, Matzek logged a 5.89 ERA with 93 strikeouts but 66 walks and 10 hit batters.