Well, that was an interesting Saturday, wasn't it? Putz's option for 2013 being exercised was only the start of a seismic day that saw Chris Young - the man who has played more for us than anyone bar Gonzo - traded to Oakland, and Heath Bell arrive in Arizona's bullpen. Let's look at what it all means.
It didn't take long for Kevin Towers to start unclogging the jam which was Arizona's outfield. Trading Young really didn't come as a shock. The apparent rise of Adam Eaton as a viable center-fielder, who also gives the Diamondbacks their first credible leadoff hitter in forever, rendered CY largely surplus to requirements. His long-term issues handling right-handed pitching (his career line against them is .228/.299/.419), and an increasing cost, reaching $8.5 million next season, made him an expensive platoon piece.
The question is, will it be Eaton or Gerardo Parra who replaces Young in center-field? Because, at this point, the team still seems one over capacity, with Jason Kubel and Justin Upton manning the corners. There'd be room to deal one more, it seems, and use A.J. Pollock as an outfielder. The previous discussion about whether that might be Kubel or Parra is still in play, since the departure of Young apparently commits the team to Eaton going forward. The D-backs certainly still have issues to address, likely looking to acquire a veteran starter and left-handed reliever, as well as perhaps a third baseman.
The already-slim odds of Upton being traded appear to have decreased even further with these events. However, one wonders whether the departure of Young will affect J-Up. The two have been best buddies and an almost inseparable part of the Diamondbacks roster for more than five years, CY having been the "elder brother", making his debut a year before Upton. That has certainly built a familiarity which often paid dividends, the two being well aware of each other's range. Whoever mans center-field on an everyday basis for Arizona next year, Upton will have some adjusting to do.
We'll leave this section with a Tweet yesterday afternoon from Adam Eaton. Read into it what you may!
Getting my last X-ray tomorrow. Seems like everything's going to plan...can't wait to start training for a great 2013 #playforoctober— Adam Eaton (@AdamSpankyEaton) October 19, 2012
Cliff Pennington appears likely to be the Diamondbacks 2013 Opening Day shortstop. Looking at the career numbers, Pennington seems in some way to be Willie Bloomquist, with better defense:
Bloomquist: .269/.318/.345 = .662 OPS
Pennington: .249/.313/.356 = .669 OPS
Pennington is helped by having played his entire career in the cavernous confines of Help! Get Me Out of Here! Coliseum, so his OPS+ is six points better, at 84, compared to 78. Pennington is nominally a switch-hitter, but is considerably better from the left, with an OPS over 100 points better when facing right-handed pitching. Platooning him with Bllomquist seems quite likely.
It's his glove where the edge is clearer. Over the past three years, Pennington's average UZR/150 at shortstop - where he'll certainly see most time, with Aaron Hill firmly entrenched - is 4.3, compared to Bloomquist over the same time, which is -2.8 [though with a lot less playing time]. I'd guess Pennington is intended as a relatively short-term solution, to cover the gap for a couple of years until the hopeful arrival of prospect Chris Owings in the big league. Pennington is eligible for arbitration this season, for the first time, and is under Arizona control through the end of the 2015 campaign, plenty of time for Owings to develop.
His arrival does pose a question in terms of overall roster construction: how many shortstops do the 2013 Arizona Diamondbacks need? Between Pennington, Bloomquist and John McDonald, that's an everyday starter and two spares. With a back-up catcher and outfielder presumably also present, that would only leave one slot open, and we do not currently have someone (maybe a left-hander) who can spell Paul Goldschmidt over at first-base, and I'd not be happy with any of the three playing third-base either. I would keep an eye to see how things develop over the rest of the winter. We're likely not done here too.
If the Young for Pennington swap made sense, in the sense that it addressed the team's obvious need for a shortstop, the second half of the day's action, acquiring Heath Bell, seems a lot more difficult to understand. The Diamondbacks will pay approximately $13 million for Bell, over the remainder of his contract: as noted, prior to yesterday morning, 2004 was the last time Arizona had paid $5 million to a reliever. Now they've got two of them - and with David Hernandez apparently the set-up man for J.J. Putz, the team may be in possession of the most expensive seventh-inning guy in the majors.
That is particularly the case, because Bell has a clause in Bell's contract will cause a 2015 option, at the cost of a further $9 million, to kick in automatically if he finishes 55 games the previous year, or 100 between 2013 and 2014. I imagine the team will likely be keen for that not to occur. But even so, that makes our bullpen pretty expensive for next season. Here's who could be the magnificent seven after Saturday's deals:
J.J. Putz: $6.5 million
David Hernandez: $1.25 million
Heath Bell: $6.5 million
Brad Ziegler: 3rd-year arbitration [2012: $1.79 million]
Matt Albers: 3rd-year arbitration [2012: $1.075 million]
Josh Collmenter: league minimum
Bryan Shaw: league minimum
This list assumes (probably a safe one) that we decline the $4 million option for 2013 on Matt Lindstrom and, perhaps most significantly, also leaves us without a left-handed relief option, which as noted above, I know is something Kevin Towers certainly wants to add before next season. I do have to wonder if Bell will end up being traded on elsewhere between now and Opening Day. There were rumblings he was part of a deal between the Marlins and the Yankees for... Alex Rodriguez. Which, on a whole number of levels would be... Well, let's just leave it at "interesting." shall we?