Diamondbacks Off-Season Will Be Busy
With the 2019 World Series in the books, the official MLB off-season starts—and it looks to be another busy one for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The 2019 team surprised a lot of people by winning 85 games. However, they realize they need to hold onto some players while adding others to make a playoff run in 2020.
GM Mike Hazen needs to make several decisions involving players we have become accustomed to on the roster. It could turn out to be another off-season of high turnover for both the pitching staff and position players.
This year’s free agents for the Diamondbacks are not as big last years. They have four: Alex Avila, Jarrod Dyson, Yoshihisa Hirano, and Adam Jones. All have expressed an interest in returning and could all be re-signed as role players. However, they’re all into their 30s and are considered on the back ends of their careers.
They will need to move quickly on a decision on those guys, though there’s not much at stake with whatever they choose to do with them. If they re-sign any or all of them it will not cost too much on the payroll. If any or all leave, no draft picks will be added to the 2020 MLB draft for them.
A Few Changes Already
Some changes already started when both T.J. McFarland and Wilmer Flores were declined options. Flores’ $6 million option will be bought out for $500K; McFarland will receive a $50K buyout rather than a $1.85 million salary for the 2020 season. The Diamondbacks could look to re-sign Flores at a reduced salary, but he will get interest from several teams because of his versatility. McFarland has already been claimed by the Oakland Athletics and will not return.
Arbitration for Injured Players
The Diamondbacks have several injured players entering their final and most expensive year of arbitration eligibility. David Peralta’s 2019 season ended with shoulder surgery, but he should sign and receive an increase on his $7 million salary from this past season. Taijuan Walker, after missing part of 2018 and all but the last game of the 2019 season, is another. Walker made just a little over $5 million. We will have to wait and see what he will be offered.
Difficult Decisions on Jake Lamb and Steven Souza
The decisions on Jake Lamb and Steven Souza will be difficult ones. Lamb was an All-Star two years ago but since has only played in 134 games due to quad and shoulder ailments. He hit .208 over those two seasons and made $5 million last year. They are also in a similar position with Souza, who has not seen the field since September 2018. Souza made $4.125 million last year. Both players have shown they can contribute when healthy; it’s betting on them being healthy.
However, both Lamb and Souza have some other things in their favor. First, they are well-liked by their colleagues and the coaches. Both are great locker room guys to have around. The Diamondbacks do not have many proven options in right field to play every day, a plus for Souza. He could agree to a structured deal with some performance bonuses. Lamb can play both first and third. If Flores does not sign, they could look to Lamb as a replacement.
Round Two for Archie Bradley
Another candidate for arbitration is Archie Bradley. He had a great second half and finished the season as the closer. Bradley made $3.6 million and is looking for a big contract. He has two more seasons of team control and could be an intriguing trade candidate after that great second half. Teams surely would be interested in him but not to the point where it would make sense for the Diamondbacks to make a deal.
Deadline Is Approaching
The deadline to tender contracts is December 2. Other Diamondback players in their final years of arbitration eligibility are Nick Ahmed, Andrew Chafin, and Robbie Ray. All are certain to be offered contracts.
We have seen Mike Hazen make trades and this team has some candidates. Ahmed, Chafin, and Ray are the team’s most interesting trade candidates. A Gold Glove shortstop (Ahmed) is always a need for many teams. Left-handed pitchers are also in demand. Both Chafin and Ray are lefties. Although it would be surprising to see Hazen move any of them, he will do what he feels is necessary to create the best chance to win and make the playoffs.
Finally the Money
The Diamondbacks’ 2019 payroll was around $120 million, They’d like that to be lower for 2020. We’ll be waiting to see if the $53 million saved with the trade of pitcher Zack Greinke is used intelligently. Maybe a first good use of that money would be extensions for a few players, including Nick Ahmed, to keep the “core” of the team together. Hazen could also make some additions during the off-season with trades or Free Agency.
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