After the moves which the team made at the winter meetings in Nashville last week, and the signing of Brandon McCarthy, Arizona is now in a significantly different location, in terms of roster construction and payroll, from where they were seven days ago. Let's take a look and see what we have.
This is probably the least changed area of the team. None of the recent signings look to have had an impact on the starting eight. However, it's also the area which seems most likely to see further adjustment, if the team opts to get a longer-term solution at shortstop, e.g. Asdrubal Cabrera. That might involve trading a young starting pitcher - however, if we do, that would involve taking on Cabrera's additional salary for 2013, which is not an insignificant sum of $6.5 million. This is why one suspect, if the team does acquire him, it's more likely to be for Upton or Kubel, either of whose departures would free up enough payroll to fund the move.
|C. Miguel Montero||$10,000,000|
|1B. Paul Goldschmidt||$490.000|
|2B. Aaron Hill||$5,500,000|
|SS. Cliff Pennington||*$2,100,000|
|3B. Chris Johnson||*$2,200,000|
|LF. Jason Kubel||$7,500,000|
|CF Adam Eaton||$490,000|
|RF Justin Upton||$9,750,000|
The issue on the bench is not so much salary as space. The team now appears to have six players competing for what will typically be five available spots. With Nieves and Parra (or another outfielder) more or less locked in to two of those spaces, and one presumes they haven't signed Chavez or Hinske just to dump them, it appears the battle for the final spot comes down to Willie B vs. Johnny Mac. A decision on that is not likely to be made until well into spring training, which is probably wise - there's always the risk of an injury, and we know how keen Towers is on having depth to cover for such an event. I'd hang on to McDonald for his defense, but that's just me.
|C. Wil Nieves
|1B. Eric Hinske
|2B. Willie Bloomquist
|SS. John McDonald
|3B. Eric Chavez
|OF. Gerardo Parra
The arrival of McCarthy adds to Arizona's depth, with seven solid starters, and that's not including the injured Trevor Bauer, Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs - assuming we don't trade one of them for a shortstop - and is also likely not to be decided until spring training, since we know how much Gibby loves having players compete for their spots. However, it's likely they'll all get a chance: the only time Arizona has used less than seven starting pitchers, was their debut season back in 1999.. Rather than having to throw two of our young starters into the mix from the get-go, McCarthy provides much more of a known quantity. The final spot will be between
|1. Ian Kennedy
|2. Brandon McCarthy
|3. Trevor Cahill
|4. Wade Miley
|5. Toby Named-Later
It was a bit of a surprise to see us pick up reliever Peralta in the Rule 5, mostly because there isn't an obvious spot for him, and he has to be kept on the 25-man roster all year, or be offered back to the Cubs. If he is going to be retained, that would appear to require an injury, as I believe the only player with options who can be sent to the minors without going through waivers are Collmenter and Reynolds - both of whom appear to occupy important spots which would be difficult for Peralta to fill. Though I suppose long relief is possible; he has been a starter for most of his minor-league career, though given he has yet to pitch above A-ball, I'm not sure how confident I'd be in his ability to go three innings against a major-league line-up. For now, it's another area of potential over-stock.
|CL. J.J. Putz
|SU1 David Hernandez||$1,250,.000|
|SU2 Heath Bell
|GB Brad Ziegler
|LHRP Matt Reynolds
|MR Matt Albers
|Long Josh Collmenter
|Rule 5 Starlin Peralta
There are a few other bits and pieces for which the Diamondbacks need to budget. We'll still be paying Daniel Hudson as he rehabs, though at league minimum, it's not an issue. There are also the buyouts of reliever option, and the money being sent to the Athletics to offset a little of Chris Young's salary. Details of those are as follows.
* Arbitration estimate, from MLB Trade Rumors, subject to change.
** Includes $2.5 million signing bonus.
*** After llowing for the Marlins paying $8 million of the $21 million left on Bell's contract.
In terms of payroll, the above totals out at $86.87 million. You can probably add on another couple of million for the rest of the 40-man roster, so that would likely bring the team's payroll overall to a little shy of $90 million at the time of writing. That's the upper end of the "$80 million-$90 million* range projected by Nick Piecoro before the winter meetings, when he estimated we would have up to $12.5 million to spend. Since then, the four players signed (Nieves, Hinske, Chavez and McCarthy) total a cost for this year of $11.6 million, which so there doesn't appear to be much more spending Towers will be able to do.
If we are going to acquire a shortstop such as Cabrera, two things appear to make it more likely that we'll be trading a position player rather than one of our young starting pitchers: payroll and roster space. As we just saw, there is likely not enough room to fund Cabrera's $6 million salary, not without a significant increase in budget toward the mid-$90's range. That would be quite a jump, considering the team were in the high-$70's last year: while attendance at Chase was the highest it has been 2008, it would seem a stretch to claim an extra $15 million in revenue was generated.
If we do get Cabrera, it would probably make the log-jam in the infield even worse, unless we can convince the Indians to take one of the current members off our hands. Otherwise, it would seem that we would not only need to get rid of one of Bloomquist or McDonald, but axing another existing player would seem necessary. We would need someone to backup Cabrera, so would likely have to hang on to whichever of the above two are the first to go, and that leaves someone like Hinske as next in the firing line.
All told, it seems to feel like Towers has been building his roster with the expectation that Pennington will be our starting SS in 2012. If there are any remaining moves, it may be something minor like adding a second left-hander to the bullpen, on the relative cheap. Otherwise, I think what we have is more likely close to be what we'll see on Opening Day next year.