Arizona Diamondbacks – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-11-13T18:14:48Z WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Six Players Decline Qualifying Offers]]> 2018-11-12T23:22:20Z 2018-11-12T21:32:07Z The seven free agents who were issued qualifying offers by their former teams must decide by 4pm CT today whether or not to accept.  You can get the full rundown of how the qualifying offer system works here, but in brief — if a player takes the offer, they will return to their team on a one-year, $17.9MM contract for the 2019 season and can never again be issued a QO in any future trips to the free agent market.  If a player rejects the offer, their former team will receive a compensatory draft pick should another club sign the player.  (The signing team will also have to give up at least one draft pick and potentially some funds from their international signing bonus pool.)

Most free agents reject the QO in search of a richer, more long-term contract, and this is expected to be the case for most (though not all) of this year’s qualifying offer class.  The MLB Player’s Association has now announced all of these decisions, so they’re all official:

  • A.J. Pollock will enter free agency after turning down the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, tweets Jon Heyman of Fancred.  He’ll be the top center fielder available and should draw interest from a fair number of teams, though his market demand is not yet clear.
  • Bryce Harper declined the Nationals’ qualifying offer, per Mark Zuckerman of (via Twitter). That’s utterly unsurprising, as the superstar is lining up nine-figure offers as we speak.
  • Craig Kimbrel is heading to the market rather than taking the one-year pact to stay with the Red Sox, Chris Cotillo of was among those to tweet. The veteran closer is expected to command a much larger and lengthier contract in free agency.
  • Patrick Corbin won’t be accepting the Diamondbacks’ qualifying offer, as per Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman (Twitter link).  No surprises with this decision, as Corbin is set to receive the biggest contract of any free agent pitcher this winter.
  • Yasmani Grandal won’t accept the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez (via Twitter).  Even in the wake of another mediocre postseason performance, there was little doubt Grandal would turn down the QO, as he projects to earn a strong contract as the best catcher in the free agent market.
  • Dallas Keuchel has rejected the Astros’ qualifying offer,’s Mark Feinsand reports (Twitter link).  The ground-ball specialist and 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner will hit the open market, and it remains to be seen if a return to Houston could be in the cards.  The Astros could also lose Charlie Morton in free agency, and Lance McCullers Jr. will miss all of 2019 recovering from Tommy John surgery.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu has accepted the Dodgers’ qualifying offer, as we explored in detail earlier today.  Ryu becomes the sixth player to ever accept a QO, out of the 80 free agents who have been offered the deal over the last seven offseasons.
TC Zencka <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Could Shop Greinke]]> 2018-11-12T15:33:54Z 2018-11-12T15:33:54Z The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal suggests teams in need of pitching should take a second look at Diamondbacks ace Zack Greinke. With Arizona set to lose Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock to free agency, the Dbacks are, unwittingly maybe, staring down a period of transition. The $34.8MM the 35-year-old Greinke is owed yearly might seem like a bitter pill to swallow, but there are ways of diverting a portion of that cost to make the contract palatable. The Rangers and Diamondbacks, for instance, reportedly discussed a Greinke deal last offseason wherein the Rangers would have offset the AAV by sending Shin-Soo Choo the other way. Another strategy to offset that cost is straight cash. However it’s done, getting Greinke’s AAV down to the range of $20MM to $25MM might make him an attractive, shorter-term alternative to a free agent like Dallas Keuchel on a five-year pact, given that Greinke is now essentially on a three-year deal. So long as he’s priced appropriately, the Diamondbacks could move him. Whether or not they should depends on the cost. Be sure to check out the entire article here (subscription link), but for now, here are more snippets from Rosenthal on high-priced veterans from around the league…

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Yankees, Padres, Gray, Athletics, Cards]]> 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z 2018-11-10T04:14:13Z With the GM Meetings now wrapped up, the stage is set for the offseason action to get underway. Of course, we’re still waiting for some significant dominoes to fall … and everyone involved is no doubt curious to see how this year’s market will develop after the 2017-18 dud. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports cites some warning signs on spending levels; readers interested in the higher-level picture will want to give his reasoning a look.

While we wait for some hard data points to be set down, the just-completed meetings left quite a few rumors. We’ve covered many over the past several days; here are a few more worthy of note:

  • Though the Yankees seem unsettled at first base, Jon Heyman of Fancred reports that they haven’t reached out to the Diamondbacks on slugger Paul Goldschmidt. The potential rental slugger, one of the game’s steadiest offensive producers, is reportedly on the trading block. While the Yankees got stunning production from Luke Voit over a brief stretch late last year, and still have Greg Bird on hand, it wouldn’t be surprising if they sought to add a bigger piece.
  • Unsurprisingly, the Bronx organization seems fixated first on pitching. Beyond its free agent targets, the club is looking into the biggest possible names on the trade market. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic tweets that the Yanks have opened a line of communication with the Mariners on James Paxton. And the New York delegation to the GM Meetings met with their peers from the Indians, per Jon Heyman of Fancred (via Twitter), with Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco both covered in conversation. It obviously isn’t at all surprising to hear that the Yankees have checked in on these distinguished hurlers, but it’s nevertheless a notable bit of information as the market continues to develop.
  • There are quite a few possibilities for the Padres, writes Dennis Lin of The Athletic (subscription link), as the organization is feeling a need to show some real strides in the win-loss department. We’ve heard chatter recently about the desire for a young starter and the series of potential trade pieces, but Lin’s most interesting notes seem to focus on the left side of the infield. Manny Machado is not seen internally as a realistic target, with Freddy Galvis still under consideration at short. If the team really wants to push things forward, though, Galvis or another veteran may only warm the seat up for top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. At third, Josh Donaldson does not appear to be the first name on the club’s list of targets. Rather, says Lin, the current plan is to seek a new third baseman via trade.
  • So, where have the Padres set their sights for a third baseman? There aren’t many obviously available options that would figure to represent everyday pieces. Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported recently, though, that the Pads are interested in pursuing Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez, who recently posted a big campaign on the heels of what now looks to be quite a team-friendly extension. Given the Cincinnati organization’s inclination to begin pushing toward contention, that seems like a tough deal to swing for Padres GM A.J. Preller.
  • Acee also tabs the Padres as a suitor for Yankees righty Sonny Gray, who’s being openly marketed. Whether Gray would be seen as fulfilling the club’s rotation needs, or rather serving as a potential complement to a more significant addition, isn’t clear. There are other teams with interest in Gray, of course. Per’s Mark Feinsand, at least five organizations have inquired, and it wouldn’t be surprising to hear of more. Among those contemplating a move is Gray’s former employer. The Athletics evidently think their former staff ace could bounce back in Oakland, per Jon Heyman of Fancred. Of course, it remains to be seen how much the A’s will be willing to stake on a turnaround. Meanwhile,’s Mark Feinsand hears that at least five teams have inquired with the Yankees on Gray’s availability — the A’s presumably among them. Gray is projected to top $9MM in arbitration earnings this winter, but he thrived away from Yankee Stadium last season and had plenty of encouraging secondary metrics beyond his rudimentary ERA.
  • We’ve heard recently that the Cardinals intend to explore the relief market, with one southpaw on the team’s priority list. Accordingly, it’s no surprise to hear that the club is among the many teams to show early interest in veteran lefty Andrew Miller, as’s Jon Morosi tweets. Miller is drawing interest after getting some good news on his knee, so there’ll be no shortage of competition. At this point, it’s entirely unclear where he’ll end up.
Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Chatter: White Sox, Zunino, Kimbrel, Cards, Giants, Phils, Yanks]]> 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z 2018-11-06T19:29:22Z What role will the White Sox play in this free agent market? It’s an open question whether the club will come away with any significant players, but it also seems increasingly likely that it will be heavily involved at all levels of the market. MLBTR did not pick the South Siders to land any of the top fifty free agents, but as noted in that post, the club could pursue quite a few of the players listed.’s Jon Morosi even names the White Sox as potential pursuers of Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic points out the case for the Sox to spend (subscription link), while Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that the club is expressing an inclination to “take a step forward now.” Meanwhile, on the other side of town, indications remain that the Cubs will not spend a big chunk of change this winter, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post is the latest to report (Twitter link).

Clearly, the White Sox are an interesting team to watch. Even if it’s arguably a bit premature for significant investments, it certainly doesn’t hurt that they play in the sport’s worst overall division. Elsewhere …

  • The competition in the AL West seems to be driving the Mariners to sell. It’s unclear as yet how deep the cuts will go, but talks are already opening up. The M’s are chatting with the Rays about catcher Mike Zunino, per Rosenthal (via Twitter). With two years of control remaining, the 27-year-old backstop presents an interesting alternative to the free agent market for catchers. He’s an inconsistent but high-powered offensive performer who is generally seen as a quality defender.
  • The Cardinals and incumbent Red Sox are among the suitors for veteran closer Craig Kimbrel, according to Jon Morosi of Kimbrel is among the players who appear to be candidates to land earlier-than-usual contracts, by Morosi’s reckoning. (He mentions a few possible landing spots for others on his list, though it’s not apparent that the connections are based upon more than his analysis.)
  • Certainly, it seems the motivation is there for the Cardinals to pursue significant players. As Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch writes, the St. Louis front office is looking hard at ways to improve. GM Mike Girsch says the team has a competitive roster as things stand, but wants to exit the offseason with “a division-leading roster.” The piece is full of worthwhile reading for Cards fans, particularly those interested in gaining some perspective on the team’s market positioning in relation to Harper and Machado. All told, it seems reasonable not to rule the Cards out as a possible pursuer of any free agent.
  • Manny and Bryce are popular considerations for most teams, of course, even if they won’t realistically be pursued by all that many organizations. The Giants are perhaps a likelier suitor than may be evident from a passing glance, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. While the San Francisco organization struggled last year, has quite a few big contracts on the books, and doesn’t currently have a GM in place, Shea says that this kind of ownership-driven decision could still be pursued.
  • Lost in the hype for those popular young free agents is the never-ending search for pitching. While the rotation was and is a strong suit for the Phillies, that doesn’t mean they can’t improve. Indeed, as Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes, it could make sense for the organization to use some trade assets to add a starter — in addition, of course, to pursuing a superstar position player on the open market. Salisbury tabs southpaws Robbie Ray of the Diamondbacks and James Paxton of the Mariners as two particular names to watch.
  • Likewise, as they consider their pitching options, the Yankees will look at the still-developing trade market. Per Heyman, via Twitter, the Yanks have at least some level of interest in the top arms that have newly entered the sphere of trade candidates. New York’s brass will meet with their counterparts with the Indians, who are dangling Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. The Yankees are also said to have some interest in Paxton. Those three are among the game’s better starters, so it’s hardly surprising to hear the connections.
Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Eduardo Escobar]]> 2018-11-04T18:54:40Z 2018-11-04T18:54:40Z
  • With free agency upon us, Eduardo Escobar chose to sidestep the open market entirely by re-signing with the Diamondbacks on a three-year, $21MM contract.  Multiple rival executives felt the deal was a good one for the D’Backs, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal writes (subscription required), with one exec speculating that Escobar’s price tag could’ve reached as high as four years and $40MM.  As Rosenthal noted, however, the market is crowded with several other infield options, and Escobar could have found himself forced to take the sort of below-market contract that many other free agents had to settle for last offseason.  Since Escobar enjoyed his time in Arizona, Rosenthal wonders if other players could prioritize a good situation rather than take the risk of a protracted free agent stint.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Name Darnell Coles Hitting Coach]]> 2018-10-31T20:15:01Z 2018-10-31T20:15:01Z The D-backs have announced that Darnell Coles, who recently stepped down as the Brewers’ hitting coach, has been hired as the new hitting coach in Arizona. He’ll replace the recently dismissed Dave Magadan. The Athletic’s Robert Murray had previously reported that Coles was the “leading candidate” to take over for Magadan in Phoenix (Twitter link). Tim Laker is sticking around as the Diamondbacks’ assistant hitting coach, per the press release announcing Coles’ hiring.

    “We’re excited to add a person of Darnell Coles’ caliber to our Major League coaching staff,” said manager Torey Lovullo in a statement accompanying the announcement. “He is an exceptional communicator that values building relationships. As a teacher, his dynamic approach has proven to help players develop.”

    Coles, 56, enjoyed a 14-year career as an infielder and outfielder before beginning his coaching career as the Mariners’ minor league hitting coordinator in 2000. Since then he’s served as a minor league hitting coordinator, hitting coach and manager in the Nationals and Brewers farm systems, served as the Tigers’ assistant hitting coach and spent the past four seasons as the Brewers’ Major League hitting coach.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Exercise Club Option Over Paul Goldschmidt]]> 2018-10-29T22:08:34Z 2018-10-29T22:08:34Z In news that will come as no surprise, the Diamondbacks have exercised their club option over first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, per Steve Gilbert of (via Twitter). He’ll earn $14.5MM in lieu of a $2MM buyout.

    Though the Snakes will be more than pleased to control Goldschmidt at this price tag, it’s a bit of a bittersweet moment. 2019 is the final season contemplated under the extension Goldschmidt signed back in March of 2013.

    With the deal winding down, many have wondered whether Goldschmidt could be dealt this winter. The D-Backs are facing several roster needs and arguably lack the resources to address them, at least within their typical payroll levels. Cashing in on the final year of the contract might offer the organization an opportunity to recoup significant young talent (or, perhaps, to shed other unwanted salary commitments).

    Expectations remain lofty for Goldschmidt as he begins to prepare for his age-31 season. He posted a .290/.389/.533 slash with 33 home runs in 2018. That’s good for a 144 wRC+, which matches his average output over a stellar career.

    Among the game’s steadiest bats, Goldschmidt ought to draw quite a bit of interest if he’s dangled. While the market has tended not to reward defensively limited sluggers, Goldschmidt looks like an exception. Not only is he regarded as a high-end defender at first, but he’s an excellent baserunner. And, most importantly, his output at the plate is matched or exceeded by only a few other players in the entirety of the sport.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/28/18]]> 2018-10-28T13:35:44Z 2018-10-28T13:35:44Z The latest minor league moves from around baseball…

    • The Diamondbacks have re-signed first baseman Cody Decker and right-hander Kevin McCanna to minor league contracts and assigned them both to Triple-A Reno, as per the Reno affiliate’s official Twitter feed (links here).  The 31-year-old Decker will return for his second season in Arizona’s organization, after hitting .261/.351/.503 over 191 combined PA at the Triple-A and Double-A levels in 2018.  McCanna, 24, posted a 3.84 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and a 3.00 K/BB rate over 70 1/3 combined innings at A-ball and high-A ball, starting 13 of his 14 games before injuries sidelined him in late June.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Claim Artie Lewicki From Tigers]]> 2018-10-24T23:55:48Z 2018-10-24T23:55:48Z The Diamondbacks have claimed right-hander Artie Lewicki off waivers from the Tigers, per the Transactions page (hat tip:’s Evan Woodbery, on Twitter). Lewicki underwent Tommy John surgery back in late August.

    The 26-year-old Lewicki (27 in April) has generally turned in quality results in the upper minors but has yet to have much success as a big leaguer. In 2018, he turned in 38 1/3 innings of 4.89 ERA ball with 7.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9 and a 40.3 percent ground-ball rate with the Tigers. However, he posted a 2.03 ERA with terrific K/BB numbers in Triple-A in 2017 and owns an overall 3.79 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings at the top minor league level.

    Obviously, Lewicki is highly unlikely to pitch for the D-backs in 2019. It’s not even a given that Arizona will carry him on the 40-man roster through the duration of the offseason. The Diamondbacks could try to run the right-hander through waivers themselves and then send him outright to Triple-A, retaining his rights but shedding the requirement to carry him on the 40-man roster. If Lewicki does survive the offseason on Arizona’s 40-man, he could be immediately added to the 60-day disabled list next spring, thus freeing a spot for the remainder of the 2019 season.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Escobar Deal Opens Numerous Offseason Avenues For D-backs]]> 2018-10-24T00:39:18Z 2018-10-24T00:39:18Z
  • The Diamondbacks’ surprising new deal with versatile infielder Eduardo Escobar opens a plethora of options for the organization this offseason, The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan writes in an expansive look at the team’s options (subscription link). The move first and foremost indicates that the Snakes aren’t gearing up for a complete rebuild, but it does allow the team the freedom to shift some pieces around. Jake Lamb could head to first base in the event of an oft-speculated Paul Goldschmidt deal, Buchanan notes, or Escobar could find regular work at shortstop should Nick Ahmed be moved. If the team doesn’t subtract any pieces, he could even play second base in place of Ketel Marte, whom Buchanan reports has been discussed internally as a center field option. General manager Mike Hazen, who discusses the move at length in the column, made clear that Escobar will be in line for regular at-bats next season, even if the exact plan will obviously dependent on the remainder of the offseason. The 29-year-old Escobar hit .268/.327/.444 with the D-backs following a trade from the Twins and slashed .272/.334/.489 with 23 homers, 48 doubles and three triples on the season as a whole.
  • ]]>
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 10/23/18]]> 2018-10-23T18:09:06Z 2018-10-23T18:09:06Z Rounding up the minor moves from around the baseball world…

    • Brewers minor leaguers RHP Alec Asher, LHP Mike Zagurski and IF Nick Franklin elected free agency, the team’s development department announced today. The 27-year-old Franklin – a former first-round pick of the Mariners – is the biggest name of the three, though his .214/.285/.359 career line illustrates his struggles at the big-league level. Asher is a former 23rd-round pick of the Giants who appeared in two games for the Brewers this season without giving up a run.  Zagurksi is now 35-years-old and last saw significant time in the majors when he appeared in 45 games for the Diamondbacks in 2012, pitching to a 5.54 ERA across 37.1 innings. Zagurski and Franklin spent all of 2018 in the Brewers’ system, whereas Asher split the year between the Triple-A clubs of the Brewers and Dodgers.
    • The Arizona Diamondbacks signed right-hander Shane Watson to a two-year minor-league deal, per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy (via Twitter). The now-25-year-old Watson was drafted 40th overall in the 2012 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and last played for a major-league affiliated club in 2017 with the Double-A Reading Phillies.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[D-Backs Announce Three-Year Deal With Eduardo Escobar]]> 2018-10-22T23:51:37Z 2018-10-22T22:02:30Z The Diamondbacks have announced a new contract with infielder Eduardo Escobar, as Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic first reported (Twitter links). It’s said to be a three-year, $21MM pact. Escobar is a client of DJ Rengifo Y Associates LLC.

    This news represents a fascinating turn of events just before the official onset of free agency. The 29-year-old, who was picked up in a mid-season swap with the Twins, had been slated to reach the open market for the first time.

    Opting to wait for free agency would surely have given Escobar a shot at a somewhat bigger payday. After all, the switch-hitter just wrapped up a career year in which he slashed .272/.334/.489 with 23 home runs while thriving defensively at third base. MLBTR has yet to release its free agent predictions, but had initially contemplated a contract of three years and $30MM.

    That said, things don’t always work out as hoped on the open market. There are several strong competitors in the third base market, and teams that like Escobar’s versatility will also be intrigued by Marwin Gonzalez.

    For Escobar, his broader history is rather less enticing than his 2018 output standing alone. Over the past five seasons, he carries a .261/.312/.433 slash — good for an exactly league-average 100 OPS+. And though he has played all over the diamond, including at shortstop, he hasn’t always graded as a stellar defender up the middle and so may not be seen as much of an option there as he ages.

    Doing this deal now, then, avoids some risks for both parties. Clearly, both sides liked the fit after only a few months together. And it’s not hard to see how the contract can suit team and player moving forward.

    Really, the most interesting element of this decision is what it means for the Arizona organization. With the offseason approaching, it had seemed quite likely that the club would embark upon a rebuilding effort. While it’s certainly still possible that he Snakes will look to shift some assets with the future in mind, promising Escobar three years certainly isn’t something that a team would do before a full-blown teardown.

    With Escobar on hand, it’s also fair to wonder just what the D-Backs plan to do with some other infielders. Jake Lamb will be looking to bounce back from a miserable and injury-riddled campaign, but keeping him will mean ponying up a projected $4.7MM. It remains to be seen what the club will do with Lamb, as well as fellow infielders Nick Ahmed ($3.1MM projection) and Chris Owings ($3.6MM). Ketel Marte is already under contract on a five-year, $24MM extension.

    Today’s move leaves the Diamondbacks with plenty of options, particularly given Escobar’s versatility, so it’s hardly a fully committing decision. It also means that the organization has over $130MM in estimated payroll on the books, including its robust slate of arb-eligible players. This year, the Snakes opened with a club-record $131.5MM tab.

    If the signing hints that the D-Backs will not blow things up entirely, it remains hard to imagine that the club will fully press down on the gas pedal. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently explored, the organization could attempt to shave some salary obligations, hold onto its pre-MLB talent base, and try to remain as competitive as possible by overseeing a value-oriented winter. Getting Escobar at an appealing rate certainly seems to fit that mold, though the club’s precise course from this point forward remains to be seen.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Arizona Diamondbacks]]> 2018-11-04T20:26:29Z 2018-10-18T13:35:57Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams.  Click here to read the other entries in this series.

    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.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Arbitration Eligible Players (projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Contract Options

    • 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)

    Free Agents

    [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.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Poll: Paul Goldschmidt’s Future]]> 2018-10-14T19:01:33Z 2018-10-14T19:01:33Z Even though he still has another year of team control remaining, superstar first baseman Paul Goldschmidt – a Diamondback since they chose him in the eighth round of the 2009 draft – may be in his final days with the club. While the path the Diamondbacks will take during the offseason is uncertain, general manager Mike Hazen hasn’t ruled out a full rebuild. Arizona’s in a bind in terms of payroll, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained earlier this week, and set to lose two of its best players to free agency in left-hander Patrick Corbin and center fielder A.J. Pollock.

    In the event those factors do lead to a teardown in the desert, the logical move may be to at least gauge interest in the 31-year-old Goldschmidt. USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported earlier this week Arizona will indeed “listen on” Goldschmidt, as dealing him would help restock a barren farm system which Baseball America (subscription required) ranks as the game’s fourth worst.

    Between the free-agent and trade markets, Goldschmidt would easily be the premier first base option available. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote Wednesday, there don’t seem to be any starting-caliber first basemen set to reach free agency, while all of Goldschmidt’s fellow trade candidates at the position pale in comparison to the six-time All-Star. Those factors – not to mention Goldschmdt’s affordable salary (he’ll play 2019 on a $14.5MM club option) – would likely lead to widespread interest.

    2019 will be the final season of the six-year, $46.5MM extension (including the option) he inked with the D-backs entering 2013. The decision to lock up Goldschmidt before he turned into an elite player will go down as one of the best in franchise history, given that the pact has been a steal from the get-go. He broke out in earnest during the first year of it, turning in a 6.0-fWAR campaign, and hasn’t really slowed down since. Now coming off a 5.1-fWAR season (the fifth year of at least 5.0 fWAR in his career), Goldschmidt’s facing an uncertain future for the first time since signing his team-friendly contract.

    The D-backs may well keep Goldschmidt through the winter and try to extend one of their all-time greats, regardless of whether they expect to bounce back from an 82-win season in 2019. But if the team doesn’t think it’s going to contend in the near future, or if it’s simply unable to come to terms with Goldschmidt, we may have seen the last of him in a Diamondbacks uniform.

    (poll link for app users)

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Yankees, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Orioles]]> 2018-10-15T20:40:07Z 2018-10-13T17:54:12Z The Yankees were impressed enough with Aaron Boone’s first season at the helm to bring back his entire staff for 2019, tweets George A. King III of the New York Post. Boone made a number of changes to the staff after the 2017 season, promoting Marcus Thames to hitting coach and installing bench coach Josh Bard, third-base coach Phil Nevin and first-base coach Reggie Willits, among others. The 2018 coaching crew will get a chance to run it back after an impressive 100-win season and a second straight playoff appearance.

    Here’s a couple other notes from around the MLB…

    • The Diamondbacks are replacing their natural playing surface with artificial turf in advance of the 2019 season. Arizona’s baseball operations staff conducted in-depth research, finding their new dual-fiber surface provides performance and health benefits previously unavailable. The retractable roof at Chase Field made it increasingly difficult to maintain consistent growing conditions for their natural surface. Arizona will join Tampa Bay and Toronto as the only franchises to utilize an artificial turf, though the Rangers are reportedly considering a similar surface for their new stadium. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News writes that Texas has yet to make a decision on the playing surface for the stadium set to open in 2020, but decision-makers within the organization will be closely monitoring the situation in Arizona.
    • Jon Meoli of the Baltimore Sun writes that there’s symbolic value to the Orioles’ attempts to woo top Cuban prospect Victor Victor Mesa, even if they can’t close the deal. Considering the Marlins’ recent push to collect international spending pool money and their cultural ties to Cuba, Miami is now widely considered the favorites to sign Victor Victor Mesa, though Mesa’s intentions are as of now unclear.
    • In a separate tweet, Meoli suggests that the Orioles summer trade of starting pitcher Kevin Gausman to the Braves was motivated by financial considerations. Though not initially presented as a primary concern, the trade cleared Gausman and Darren O’Day’s contracts from the Baltimore ledger in 2019 and beyond. Gausman has two more seasons of arbitration eligibility remaining after making $5.6MM in 2018. Darren O’Day has yet to pitch for the Braves, though he’ll likely have a role in their bullpen next season as he’s under contract for $9MM in 2019.