Arizona Diamondbacks – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-01-23T06:01:19Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Designate Jared Miller For Assignment]]> 2019-01-21T22:18:09Z 2019-01-21T21:17:40Z 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.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Sign Wilmer Flores]]> 2019-01-21T21:07:21Z 2019-01-21T21:05:21Z 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.

Wilmer Flores | Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Flores Deal Likely To Yield New Defensive Alignment For D-Backs]]> 2019-01-17T17:15:09Z 2019-01-17T17:15:09Z
  • 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.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Acquire Tim Locastro]]> 2019-01-16T21:18:06Z 2019-01-16T21:11:04Z 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.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[D-backs Agree To Minors Deal With Tyler Matzek]]> 2019-01-16T04:06:18Z 2019-01-16T04:05:10Z
  • 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.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: National League]]> 2019-01-12T18:50:18Z 2019-01-12T18:15:47Z The deadline for players and teams to exchange arbitration figures passed yesterday at 1pm ET, and there has been a landslide of settlements on one-year deals to avoid an arbitration hearing. We’ll track those settlements from the National League in this post. Once all of the day’s settlements have filtered in, I’ll organize them by division to make them a bit easier to parse.

    It’s worth mentioning that the vast majority of teams have adopted a “file and trial” approach to arbitration, meaning that once arbitration figures are exchanged with a player, negotiations on a one-year deal will cease. The two parties may still discuss a multi-year deal after that point, but the majority of players who exchange figures with their team today will head to an arbitration hearing.

    As always, all salary projections referenced within this post are courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz, and we’ll also be updating our 2019 Arbitration Tracker throughout the day…

    Today’s Updates

    • Rounding out contract numbers for the St. Louis Cardinals, Dominic Leone will take home $1.26MM, Chasen Shreve will make $900K, and outfielder Marcell Ozuna will earn $12.25MM in his last season before free agency, per’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). Ozuna has the most high-impact potential as he looks to rebound from a still-productive season in 2018 that saw his power output hindered at times by a balky shoulder. He still managed 23 home runs and a .280/.325/.433 slash line while playing just about every day outside of a 10-day DL stint late in August.
    • The Diamondbacks came to terms with a slew of players, per Feinsand (via Twitter), including Matt Andriese for $920K, Steven Souza Jr. for $4.125MM, shortstop Nick Ahmed for $3.6625MM, and potential closer Archie Bradley for $1.83MM.
    • The Rockies and starting pitcher Jon Gray have come to an agreement on a $2.935MM deal, per Feinsand (via Twitter). Gray had an up-and-down 2018 that is generally considered to be more promising than the optics of his 5.12 ERA make it seem.
    • The Pirates have come to terms on one-year deals with both of their arbitration eligible players, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Left fielder Corey Dickerson signs for $8.5MM, and reliever Keone Kela takes home $3.175MM. It’s a small arb class for the Pirates, whose list will grow next season as players like Josh Bell, Jameson Taillon, and Joe Musgrove, among others, reach their first season of eligibility.
    • The Dodgers signed a couple of their remaining arbitration-eligible players yesterday, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (Twitter links). Utility man Chris Taylor has a $3.5MM deal, while outfield Joc Pederson settled at $5MM.

    Earlier Updates

    Read more

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Unresolved 2019 Arbitration Cases]]> 2019-01-12T15:29:32Z 2019-01-12T15:15:14Z Yesterday’s arbitration deadline wasn’t a firm date for agreeing to terms. Rather, it was the end of the period to negotiate before submitting numbers for possible hearings. Negotiations can continue thereafter, but teams and players will now have to defend their submission numbers if they can’t bridge the gap before a hearing. Baseball arb panels simply pick one side’s number; that aspect of the process is designed to force the parties to the bargaining table.

    [RELATED: MLBTR Arbitration Projections; MLBTR Arbitration Tracker]

    Here’s what we know thus far about the still-unresolved cases:

    Today’s Updates

    • The Yankees have yet to come to a deal with ace starter Luis Severino, and they may be heading to arbitration. The Yanks have submitted their bid at $4.4MM, while Severino has asked for $5.25MM, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Tommy Pham and the Rays have submitted their numbers for arbitration, per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (via Twitter). Pham filed at $4.1MM while the Rays submitted a bid of $3.5MM. Pham has had no problem expressing his honest opinion about the Rays fanbase of late, and it will be interesting to see if he gets an equal portion of honest feedback in return in his arbitration hearing.
    • The Oakland A’s and their closer Blake Treinen have both submitted their numbers, with the team coming in at $5.6MM while Treinen files for $6.4MM, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). It’s not a shock to see these sides far apart, given Treinen’s remarkable 2018 and how far above his usual standard of production last season’s numbers fell.
    • Washington Nationals filed at $1.725MM for newcomer Kyle Barraclough, who counters at $2MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). The former Marlin was acquired in an uncommonly early offseason trade that sent international bonus pool money the Marlins’ way.
    • The Diamondbacks have only one player they did not reach an agreement with, lefty reliever T.J. McFarland. The Dbacks submitted a bid of $1.275MM, while McFarland is asking for $1.675MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Alex Wood submitted $9.65MM for his 2019 salary, while his new club the Cincinnati Reds countered at $8.7MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Wood will be a free agent at season’s end.
    • The Detroit Tigers reached agreements with all of their arbitration eligible players except for right-handed starter Michael Fulmer. Fulmer comes in at $3.4MM with the team countering at $2.8MM, the difference being 600K, per Nightengale (via Twitter).
    • Ryan Tepera has filed for $1.8MM while the Blue Jays submitted their bid at $1.525MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Tepera has been a reliable bullpen arm for the Jays through his first four seasons. He has two more seasons of arbitration remaining, set to reach free agency in advance of the 2022 season.
    • Reserve outfielder Michael A. Taylor and the Washington Nationals are a 250K apart, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Seems like a rather small sum to quibble over in the grand scheme of things, but every cent counts right now in Washington, it seems. Taylor submitted a bid of $3.5MM, with the Nats countering at $3.25MM.

    Earlier Updates

    • Rockies star Nolan Arenado is headed for a record arb salary, unsurprisingly. The question is by how much. He has filed at a whopping $30MM, with the club countering at $24MM, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). Even the lower figure would represent a record. It doesn’t seem as if the sides will go to a high-stakes hearing on this one; Jeff Passan of tweets that the odds are good they’ll find common ground. MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz projected Arenado to earn $26.1MM, though he also explained that it’s not hard to see that number swaying in either direction based upon a close examination of the (few relevant) comps.
    • Despite a monster 2018 season, Phillies righty Aaron Nola isn’t seeking to set a record first-year arb starter salary. (That belongs to Dallas Keuchel, at $7.25MM, when he was coming off of a Cy Young season.) Nola did file at a hefty $6.75MM, per Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (via Twitter), while the club entered just $4.5MM. It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. The Keuchel salary represented a sea change for young starters, but few others have tested the process since. MLBTR’s projection system spit out a $6.6MM figure for Nola.
    • Righty Gerrit Cole filed at $13.5MM, while the Astros countered at $11.425MM, according to Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter link). Teammates Carlos Correa and Chris Devenski have also yet to agree to terms. MLBTR projected Cole to earn $13.1MM in his final arb season, Correa to check in at $5.1MM in his first arb year, and Devenski to take home $1.4MM his first time through the process.
    • Indians righty Trevor Bauer is seeking a $13MM payday, while the club will argue instead for $11MM, per Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter). The Cleveland org has long utilized a file-and-trial approach on a case-by-case basis. It’s not totally clear whether that’ll be the approach here, but as Hoynes notes, the sides did go to a hearing already last year. (Bauer won.) MLBTR projected a $11.6MM payday; Swartz also explained why he thought the model was likely in the right ballpark for Bauer in a detailed post.
    • Passan provides a list of other players who have yet to agree to terms and who could therefore still end up before a panel. There are fifteen in total, including those already noted above as well as Kyle Barraclough and Michael Taylor (Nationals), Michael Fulmer (Tigers), T.J. McFarland (Diamondbacks), Tommy Pham (Rays), Luis Severino (Yankees), Ryan Tepera (Blue Jays), Blake Treinen (Athletics), and Alex Wood (Reds).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> 2019-01-11T02:52:05Z 2019-01-11T02:51:58Z The deadline for teams and players to exchange arbitration figures is tomorrow afternoon at 1pm ET. With the vast majority of teams now adopting a “file-and-trial” approach to arbitration — that is, halting negotiations on one-year contracts once figures have been exchanged and simply going to a hearing at that point — there will be a deluge of arbitration agreements in the next 24 hours. It’s a minor deadline day in terms of newsworthiness — outside of the largest cases, at least — as few arbitration cases will have a significant impact on their team’s overall payroll picture. From a broader perspective, though, the exchange of arb figures is perhaps more notable. With most or all of their arbitration cases out of the way, teams can focus more heavily on the trade and free-agent markets.

    As always, it’s interesting to refer back to MLBTR’s annual arbitration projections. Here are the day’s deals:

    • The Tigers will pay Shane Greene $4MM for the coming campaign, Murray tweets. Entering his second year of eligibility, the 30-year-old had projected at $4.8MM, owing largely to his strong tally of 32 saves. Despite appealing K/BB numbers, though, Greene finished the season with an unsightly 5.12 ERA.
    • Righty Nick Tropeano settled with the Angels at $1.075MM. (That’s also via Murray, on Twitter.) That falls well shy of his $1.6MM projection. The first-year arb-eligible hurler was not terribly effective in his 14 starts last year and has just over two hundred career frames in the big leagues, due in no small part to a long rehab owing to Tommy John surgery.

    Earlier Updates

    • Newly acquired outfielder Domingo Santana will earn $1.95MM in his first season with the Mariners, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports on Twitter. That’s just a touch below the $2.0MM that MLBTR & Matt Swartz had projected. The 26-year-old Santana swatted thirty long balls and had a productive overall 2017 season, but only received 235 plate appearances in the ensuing campaign — over which he hit five home runs and carried a .265/.328/.412 slash — before being dealt to Seattle.
    • The Angels are on the hook for $1,901,000 to rehabbing righty J.C. Ramirez, Robert Murray of The Athletic tweets. Ramirez will receive a nominal raise on his 2018 salary after requiring Tommy John surgery after just two starts.
    • Phillies righty Hector Neris has settled at $1.8MM, according to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia (Twitter links). He had projected at $2.0MM but will settle for a bit less in his first season of arb eligibility. Right-handed starter Jerad Eickhoff, meanwhile, is slated to receive $975K. His projected first-year salary was much higher, at $1.7MM, but Eickhoff presented a tough case since he missed virtually all of his platform season with arm troubles.
    • Southpaw Ryan Buchter has agreed with the Athletics on a $1.4MM deal, Nightengale of reports on Twitter. That lands just a smidge over his $1.3MM projection. Soon to turn 32, Buchter worked to a sub-3.00 for the third-straight season in 2018, but only threw 39 1/3 innings while working as a lefty specialist.
    • Red Sox reliever Heath Hembree will receive a $1,312,500 salary next year, Alex Speier of the Boston Globe reports (Twitter link). Starter Steven Wright checks in just a shade higher, at $1.375MM, per Nightengale (via Twitter). Both players had projected in this range, with Swartz pegging $1.2MM for the former and $1.4MM for the latter. It’s Hembree’s first time through the process and Wright’s second.
    • First-time arb-eligible righty Scott Oberg settled with the Rockies for $1.3MM, according to Nightengale (via Twitter). It’s $100K over the projected rate for the 28-year-old hurler, who turned in far and away his most productive MLB season in 2018.
    • The Yankees have a $1.2MM deal in place with first baseman Greg Bird, Nightengale was first to tweet. Though he had projected a bit higher, at $1.5MM, Bird’s relatively robust number of home runs (31 total in 659 career plate appearances) were threatened to be overshadowed in a hypothetical hearing by his rough overall stats over the past two seasons. He’ll need to earn his way back into a larger share of playing time in 2019.
    • Infielder Travis Jankowski will earn $1.165MM with the Padres, per Murray (via Twitter). He projected at a heftier $1.4MM, but the Super Two qualifier will still earn a nice raise after his best season in the big leagues. Jankowski will be looking to crack 400 plate appearances for the first time in the season to come.
    • The Nationals have agreed to a $1MM contract with righty Joe Ross, Murray also tweets. Though Ross projected at $1.5MM for his first season of eligibility, that was based largely upon the innings he accumulated over the prior three seasons. Ross made it back from Tommy John surgery in time for only three outings in 2018.
    • A pair of backstops have also put pen to paper on new salaries. Curt Casali will earn $950K with the Reds, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter link). John Ryan Murphy has a $900K agreement with the Diamondbacks, the elder Nightengale tweets. Casali, a Super Two, had projected for a $1.3MM salary, while Murphy projected at $1.1MM in his first arb year.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 1/9/19]]> 2019-01-09T17:30:35Z 2019-01-09T17:30:35Z We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post …

    • Righty Barry Enright has decided to hang up his spikes, though he’ll remain in uniform. The 32-year-old is joining the Diamondbacks in a coaching capacity. A former second-round draft pick of the Arizona organization, Enright threw 148 2/3 MLB innings between 2010 and 2013 but was not able to make it back to the game’s highest level thereafter. He enjoyed a productive, multi-year run in the Mexican League — an experience he spoke about on the MLBTR podcast — while also appearing with affiliated organizations in the past two seasons.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[D'Backs Unlikely To Trade Bradley, Lamb]]> 2019-01-05T03:51:14Z 2019-01-05T03:51:14Z
  •’s Steve Gilbert doesn’t see the Diamondbacks trading Archie Bradley or Jake Lamb this offseason, though in Lamb’s case, that could be due in part for his injury-shortened down year in 2018.  Arizona’s trade of Paul Goldschmidt is the defining move of its offseason, and while the team may still be weighing trades of Zack Greinke, David Peralta, or others, the D’Backs have resisted going into a full rebuild.  Bradley is only arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter, so he’s still a long-term piece for the D’Backs who could factor into the team’s plans when it again makes a full-on push for contention.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[What D'Backs Would Want In A Robbie Ray Trade]]> 2019-01-02T15:48:25Z 2019-01-02T14:39:23Z
  • The Diamondbacks would only consider trading Robbie Ray for a very big return, with Passan noting that Arizona would want more for Ray than the Mariners received from the Yankees for James Paxton back in November.  While both Ray and Paxton are front-of-the-rotation southpaws with two remaining years of team control, Ray is almost three full years younger than Paxton, which would explain Arizona’s higher asking price.  That deal saw Seattle land an MLB-ready pitching prospect (Justus Sheffield), another young arm on the brink of the majors (Erik Swanson) and a promising lower-level position player (outfielder Dom Thompson-Williams).  It’s a steep price tag, though at least two teams with a lot of minor league depth have been linked to Ray in trade rumors.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[3 Remaining Needs: NL West]]> 2019-01-06T04:27:27Z 2019-01-02T02:26:51Z In the latest edition of MLBTR’s “3 Remaining Needs” series, we’ll focus on the National League West, a division ruled by the iron-fist of the Dodgers — division champs for six years running. With at least two playoff teams in each of the last three seasons, however, the competition remains fierce. Though the Diamondbacks are likely to take a step back this year, the Giants have new leadership in the front office, the Padres have the foreword to their Cinderella story ready to print, and the Rockies will be giving all they’ve got in what could be Nolan Arenado’s last season in Colorado.

    [Previous installments: NL EastNL Central, AL West]

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    • Replace A.J. Pollock. Whether they move Ketel Marte to center field or find a replacement on the trade market, the position needs to be addressed. Jarrod Dyson doesn’t offer enough upside, even to build value as a trade candidate, nor do the veterans signed to minor league deals thus far this offseason (Abraham Almonte, Kelby Tomlinson, Matt Szczur). They can attempt to build the value of an otherwise depreciating asset, a la Socrates Brito, they can move Marte to center and sign a stopgap veteran to flip at the deadline, a la Asdrubal Cabrera or Brian Dozier, or they can engage the trade market for an option in between those two, a la Michael A. Taylor, Kevin Pillar or Randal Grichuk.
    • Trade Zack Greinke. Or if not Greinke, then at least one of Robbie Ray or Zack Godley. The Dbacks also have winter acquisitions Luke Weaver and Merrill Kelly slated for the rotation, plus Taijuan Walker aiming for a midseason return. That’s not necessarily a terrible collection if they’re looking to contend, but considering the Dodgers depth, the Rockies urgency, and the sleeping giant in San Diego, it’s a tough row to hoe for the Diamondbacks in the West, and the Wild Card race is no less forgiving – especially now that they’ve bolstered a perennial contender in St. Louis. Assuming Arizona is willing to take a step back – even if just for a year – then it behooves them to make room at the major league level for the group of Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener and Taylor Clarke, their #1, #2 and #11 ranked prospects (per All three are at least 24 and coming off strong seasons in either Double or Triple A. Clarke is the closest, but also has the lowest ceiling, which is even more reason to give him a go while the others season in Triple A. Besides, trading one of their major league starters will help accomplish task #3.
    • Further build prospect depth. They’ve got a ton of top 100 draft picks in June and already jumpstarted their youth movement by trading Goldschmidt and letting Corbin and (presumably) Pollock walk. While they’re at it, they should explore lesser returns for Nick Ahmed, Andrew Chafin, Yoshihisa Hirano or Alex Avila. They’ve resisted overtures for David Peralta thus far, but he’s 31 and still controllable on a year-to-year basis through 2020, which makes him perfect for a contender like Cleveland.

    Colorado Rockies

    • Upgrade at catcher. Extending Arenado maybe should be the main priority, but if he’s set on testing free agency, the Rockies would do just as well devoting their energy to making Colorado as attractive a destination as possible, and that means building a sustainable winner. The budget is likely too tight for Yasmani Grandal, but Chris Iannetta and Tony Wolters struggled at the dish last season, so if they can backload a deal to spike after 2020 when most of their long-term money comes off the books,
    • Add a veteran to the bench. The Rockies are in the midst of a mini youth movement with David Dahl, Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon and Raimel Tapia slated for significant playing time. They’ve added Daniel Murphy, who likely replaces DJ LeMahieu, but they could use a vet on the bench to fill the shoes of Carlos Gonzalez, Matt Holliday and Gerardo Parra.
    • Keep an eye on pitching. The Rockies have their best rotation in years, but they could use an extra arm at the right price. Antonio Senzatela has the inside track on the fifth starter role for now, and they have a host of options in the organization, but there’s room for the right guy. Same goes for the bullpen, which is stocked with high-priced veterans like Wade Davis, Jake McGee, Bryan Shaw and Mike Dunn. They need to replace the production they received last season from Adam Ottavino, but they may want to give this group a couple months to make it work. Basically, they have no cause to overreach on pitching, but if they have a target or two they like whose prices drop, they should be ready to bite.

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    • Find a catcher. Say what you will about Grandal’s playoff woes, but he was still a top-notch regular-season producer with the Dodgers from 2015-18. Now a free agent, reports have indicated the 30-year-old Grandal is unlikely to return to the Dodgers. At the major league level, the Grandal-less Dodgers are bereft at catcher aside from Austin Barnes, who took sizable steps backward last season after an excellent 2017. The Dodgers do have a pair of appealing backstop prospects in Keibert Ruiz and Will Smith, but they aren’t ready to assume the reins yet. Los Angeles will at least need to find a stopgap, then, though free agency’s not teeming with possibilities. If healthy, the Pirates’ Francisco Cervelli– who has reportedly been on the Dodgers’ radar – would make for a nice one-year Band-Aid. Former Dodger Russell Martin might also be available, but the current Blue Jay owns a pricey $20MM salary. Welington Castillo of the White Sox ($7.75MM guaranteed) could become expendable if Chicago goes after Grandal, and the Mets have two trade candidates in Travis d’Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki. Of course, the Marlins’ J.T. Realmuto is far and away the premier option on the market, and the Dodgers have been involved in talks for him. However, LA is not ready to meet Miami’s lofty demands for the 27-year-old.
    • Land another offensive threat, especially if Realmuto doesn’t end up in LA. The Dodgers’ offense led the majors in wRC+ and finished fourth in runs in 2018, but the group has since lost Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Manny Machado. The back-to-back NL pennant winners still carry a boatload of formidable producers – including Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Corey Seager (whose 2018 absence paved the way for the Machado pickup), Cody Bellinger, Chris Taylor and Joc Pederson – but why stop there? The Dodgers don’t seem inclined to, judging by their interest in No. 1 free agent Bryce Harper and Tigers outfielder Nicholas Castellanos – a righty who’d provide balance to a lefty-heavy lineup.
    • You can never have enough great starting pitching. Even though they traded Alex Wood to the Reds this month, the Dodgers’ starting staff remains as deep as any in the game. As things stand, Clayton Kershaw, Walker Buehler, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Rich Hill, Kenta Maeda, Ross Stripling, Julio Urias, Caleb Ferguson and Dennis Santana represent a group of rather strong choices. Nevertheless, the Dodgers may want another front-end presence to join Kershaw (who hasn’t been as durable or as otherworldly of late) and Buehler, as they’ve pursued a trade for the Indians’ Corey Kluber. The two-time AL Cy Young winner has exceeded 200 innings in each season since 2014. That type of durability would be a breath of fresh air for the Dodgers, who have seen Kershaw, Ryu, Hill and Urias deal with significant injuries in recent years.

    San Diego Padres

    • Acquire a top of the rotation veteran. The Padres have been linked to Corey Kluber, Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray recently – they clearly want to bring in a veteran to anchor their young rotation. Clayton Richard, their innings leader form a year ago, was recently cut loose, signaling a raising of the bar in San Diego. They’re looking not just for an innings eater, but a quality ace to set the standard on the hill. Joey Lucchesi, 25 had a solid rookie season, sporting a 4.08 ERA, 2.98 BB/9 to 10.04 K/9, but he needs some help in the rotation if the Padres are going to start to push the Rockies and Dodgers.
    • Get a third baseman. Wil Myers, Christian Villanueva, Cory Spangenberg and Chase Headley were the four Padres who saw action at third in 2018, and three are now gone. Villanueva’s in Japan, Spanbenberg’s a Brewer and Headley has fallen off the map since the Padres released him last May. Myers, meanwhile, is more a fit at first base – where, because of Eric Hosmer’s presence, he can no longer play in San Diego – or in the corner outfield. As a result, upgrading at the hot corner is reportedly the Padres’ No. 1 priority heading into next season. Whether they can do it is the question. While the Padres seem bullish on Yankees third baseman Miguel Andujar, whom the Bombers may move this offseason, they likely don’t have the ammunition at the major league level to acquire him. The Padres could also try for the Phillies’ Maikel Franco, whom they had interest in last summer and who will lose his spot in Philly if it signs Machado. In terms of salary, more expensive trade candidates include the Mariners’ Kyle Seager (though he could be immovable for Seattle), the Marlins’ Martin Prado, the Mets’ Todd Frazier, and current Cardinal and ex-Padre Jedd Gyorko. Free agency features Hosmer’s pal Mike Moustakas, among other less exciting choices.
    • Clear the outfield logjam. Along with Myers, the Padres have a gaggle of other MLB outfielders in Hunter Renfroe, Franchy Cordero, Franmil Reyes, Manuel Margot and Travis Jankowski. Excluding Myers, San Diego could option any of those players to the minors, but the team may be better off moving at least one of them if it helps address a position of greater need. The Padres could try to deal Myers, but despite his middling production from 2017-18 and the $64MM left on his contract, they’re still bullish on the 28-year-old. It seems more likely another outfielder will go.

    San Francisco Giants

    • Acquire at least one starting outfielder. Perhaps the Giants could help the Padres with their backlog of outfielders, if the two division rivals are willing to make a trade. Few 2018 teams were worse off in the grass than the Giants, whose outfielders hit an ugly .238/.307/.363 with 0.1 fWAR over nearly 2,200 plate appearances. The only bright spot was Andrew McCutchen, whom the Giants traded to the Yankees in August and who’s now on the Phillies. So now what? Well, new team president Farhan Zaidi wants the Giants to get younger and more athletic. The 26-year-old Harper checks the young and athletic boxes, but there’s no indication the Giants are interested in coming anywhere close to his asking price. Unfortunately for the Giants, no one else in free agency looks like a perfect fit, but that’s not to say it would be wise to avoid the open market entirely. On the trade front, the Giants have reportedly shown interest in Blue Jays defensive standout Kevin Pillar, who will turn 30 on Jan. 4. Pillar has never been a real threat at the plate, meaning he wouldn’t do a lot to upgrade a San Francisco offense which scored the majors’ second-fewest runs in 2018. Nevertheless, as a player who has totaled at least 2.0 fWAR four years in a row, he’d give the Giants a desperately needed quality regular in the outfield. With Steven Duggar, Mac Williamson and Chris Shaw penciled into No. 1 roles, the Giants don’t have a single established starter in the grass at this juncture.
    • Add to the pitching staff. Derek Holland led all Giants in innings last season and was quite effective from their rotation, but he’s now a free agent. Whether he’ll return is unclear, but San Francisco’s probably going to have to re-sign him or bring in someone else capable of eating innings. Madison Bumgarner is coming off back-to-back injury-shortened years and, if he’s not a trade candidate prior to the 2019 campaign, may become one by midseason; Jeff Samardzija had a horrendous 2018, both because of injury and performance issues; Johnny Cueto may not pitch in 2019, having undergone Tommy John surgery; and while there’s hope for Dereck Rodriguez, Chris Stratton and Andrew Suarez, only Rodriguez’s production was worth writing home about last season. Yusei Kikuchi – whom the Giants “scouted extensively,” according to Zaidi – would’ve been a great fit. Sadly for San Francisco, he’s going to Seattle. The 27-year-old Kikuchi may have been the only long-term possibility in free agency for the Giants, as nearly everyone remaining on the market is over 30. But there are a lot of hurlers in that bunch who could be sensible, affordable short-term targets, and the Giants could use pitcher-friendly AT&T Park to their advantage to scoop up at least one of them. The same logic applies to the Giants’ bullpen. Their relief unit performed well last year, but there could be an opening or two to fill if the Giants trade Will Smith or Tony Watson.
    • Bolster the catching and infield depth. After undergoing season-ending hip surgery in August, catcher Buster Posey may not be ready at the start of the upcoming campaign. There’s little behind him in San Francisco, whose only other 40-man catcher is Aramis Garcia, though it could select ex-Phillies starter Cameron Rupp from Triple-A at some point. Free agent Nick Hundley, Posey’s backup from 2017-18, could return to the team. Across the infield, the Giants seem to have set starters at every position, but it’s not the promising group it would’ve looked like a few years back. Injury-prone first baseman Brandon Belt battled more health issues last season and dealt with a dip in production, and has been in trade rumors this month; second baseman Joe Panik was neither good nor healthy; shortstop Brandon Crawford wasn’t the same player from 2017-18 that he was over the prior two years; and third baseman Evan Longoria, at 33, appears to have hit a wall. Alen Hanson and Pablo Sandoval lead the Giants’ depth options, but there’s room for more. The team agrees, evidenced by its recent reported interest in free agents Troy Tulowitzki and Josh Harrison.
    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Olney’s Latest, Free Agent Market, Diamondbacks]]> 2018-12-31T22:20:13Z 2018-12-31T21:51:21Z It’s been another slow winter for baseball’s veteran free agents, writes ESPN’s Buster Olney. Only six free agents have secured deals with more than two years fully guaranteed, none of whom have been over the age of 32, and there are over 200 unsigned free agents still seeking employment for the 2019 season. ESPN obtained a memo written by player agent Jeff Berry outlining some ideas on how to improve the troubling conditions that have developed in this labor market. Berry writes, As advocates, our job is to fight for and protect player rights, and when necessary, try and help create solutions — not pointing fingers of blame and hoping things get better. And I wholeheartedly believe there are viable solutions to the core labor issues facing the game that can be remedied to the benefit of players, clubs and fans.” Take a look at the top remaining free agents available here, or track the market as a whole with MLBTR’s free agent tracker. For now, let’s take a look at a few of the specifics covered in Olney’s article, as well as some news from around the (slow-moving) winter market…

    • Refining or reforming current practices regarding service time manipulation and player arbitration are two of the most-often disputed topics, per Olney, but there are other issues at hand as well, including how some people within the industry are unhappy about the way teams use the disabled list. This issue also encompasses the promotion/demotion process termed “portfolio management,” or the process wherein teams shuffle their rosters for particular series matchups throughout the season. While these in-season roster moves make sense from a strategic baseball standpoint, players lose money as a result, often to no fault of their own. For instance, a reliever whose option has already been used in a season might be vulnerable to demotion if unavailable due to overuse (say, if he pitched in three consecutive days). Even if said player is brought back to the big leagues after a couple of days, he still loses a significant amount of major league pay during that span. Thus, such a player loses money – not despite performing effectively – but because he performed effectively. Obviously, given the complexity of even the single above circumstance, there is no shortage of issues for the players’ union to focus their attentions in advance of December 1, 2021 – the date the current CBA expires. 
    • Turning to rumblings about player movement, it’s unlikely the Arizona Diamondbacks bring A.J. Pollock back to the desert even if his free agency drags on longer than expected. Given the flexibility of their roster, however, the Dbacks have options to replace him, writes the Athletic’s Zach Buchanan. The in-house alternatives may not be enough to call off the rebuild, but the number of roster iterations available gives GM Mike Hazen the time to make judicious decisions on the trade market. For example, Ketel Marte could move to center, with his spot at the keystone, then, filled by one of the attainable free agent second baseman on the market (DJ LeMahieu, Brian Dozier, Josh Harrison, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie). Alternatively, Eduardo Escobar could fill Marte’s spot at second should the Diamondbacks acquire a new third baseman (Jake Lamb would be expected to handle first, as is probably the case regardless). Given the absolute dearth of starting options available in free agency, if Marte stays at second, a center field replacement would likely come via trade. The Diamondbacks are unlikely to surrender much in the way of prospects at this stage of their rebuild, which makes finding a trade partner tricky, though not impossible. Their best bet might be to target a young veteran who may still have some upside. Specifically, Michael A. Taylor of the Nationals would be an intriguing player to see given 500 at bats, as might Keon Broxton of the Brewers. 
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Acquire Robby Scott]]> 2018-12-30T22:49:01Z 2018-12-30T22:36:57Z The Diamondbacks have acquired left-hander Robby Scott from the Reds for cash, according to an announcement from Cincinnati. The Reds designated Scott for assignment on Dec. 21, ending a brief run with the club that began when it claimed him off waivers from the Red Sox on Dec. 10.

    The 29-year-old Scott racked up a solid chunk of innings in Boston in 2017, when he totaled 35 2/3 frames and put up a respectable 3.79 ERA with 7.82 K/9, 3.28 BB/9 and a 42.6 percent groundball rate. Scott only managed a 5.32 FIP that year, though, and was barely a factor last season for the Red Sox’s World Series-winning team, with whom he threw a mere 6 2/3 innings and allowed six earned runs on 10 hits and five walks (with eight strikeouts).

    While Scott hasn’t been that successful in the majors, he has recorded a 3.21 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 2.7 BB/9 in 165 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. Now a member of the Arizona organization, Scott will reunite with general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, who are both familiar with the hurler from their days with the Boston franchise.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Braves Could Have Interest In Multiple D-backs ]]> 2018-12-30T19:04:23Z 2018-12-30T19:04:23Z
  • Given the needs in the Braves’ corner outfield and pitching staff, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets that they and the Diamondbacks could be logical trade partners. Outfielder David Peralta, left-hander Robbie Ray and righty Zack Greinke may all be fits for the Braves, O’Brien posits, though he notes the Diamondbacks would have to eat a significant portion of the $95.5MM left on Greinke’s contract to make him a realistic possibility for Atlanta. There are no weighty financial obligations for either Peralta or Ray, who are each under affordable arbitration control through 2020. The Braves have already come up short in an attempt to acquire Peralta this offseason, though, and the D-backs don’t seem willing to part with Ray.
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