The move had a large impact on the 40-man roster, with both David Holmberg and Heath Bell coming off, and no players needing to be added to it - Justin Choate does not have enough service time to need adding, and of course, the player to be named later is still a hypothetical construct at this point [Schrodinger's Prospect, a wave-particle duality which will either collapse into something worth having or a bag of balls, at some point in the future]. Add in the decision to non-tender Daniel Hudson, and the team now has three spots open.
The Rule 5 draft takes place on December 12, as part of the winter meetings in Florida. I believe it's now too late for the team to protect any additional prospects by adding them to the 40-man roster - that had to happen when the teams filed their reserve lists on November 20. But it does mean the team has got plenty of scope, if they are interested in adding any unprotected prospects during the draft. Normal rules would have to be followed if they did, however, e.g. any player picked during the first phase, has to be kept on the 25-man roster for the whole season, or offered back to his original club. We'll get more into that next week, I imagine.
The departure of Bell does open up, somewhat, the apparent log-jam in the team's bullpen. It now seems likely that we will see J.J. Putz re-instated as closer, with David Hernandez in the eighth innings, and Brad Ziegler with a bit of a "reliever without portfolio" remit, working the seventh, or wherever we need a ground-ball. As before, Joe Thatcher is the situational leftie, Josh Collmenter works long relief, and Will Harris mops up, but there's now an open spot. That could be used for someone picked up in the Rule 5 draft, or it could go to Matt Stites, the potential closer of the future, received from San Diego in the Ian Kennedy trade.
The purse-strings loosen
The financial flexibility resulting from the move will allow the Diamondbacks, according to Kevin Towers, "to add depth and plug holes." How much does the team have to play with? When I looked at our salary bill last week, here's how things stood: "After the decision to let Tony Sipp go, the D-backs will pay almost $90 million to 15 players on their roster who are under contract or eligible for arbitration. With replacements for Eric Chavez and Wil Nieves still to be signed, if we budget $4 million for that pair, and the balance of the roster spots at league-minimum ($500,000 in 2014), that would take the total to $97.8 million."
Per Nick Piecoro, the trade will save the Diamondbacks $6 million, taking us down to $92 million. Ken Kendrick has already said the team payroll will be at or above the highest it has ever been, which would be $103 million or more, so that would appear to mean around $11 million, possibly a little above that, will be available for further acquisitions this winter. The tally may be higher, depending on any additional moves affecting the roster. For instance, if the deal involved us trading Gerardo Parra, his expected salary of $4 million would be added to the pot. If it's Didi Gregorius; the impact on the available cash would be pretty negligible.
The question is, do we split this across the team's needs, of a power-hitting corner outfielder and a front of the rotation starting pitcher? Or do we avoid putting all our eggs in one basket, and allocate the resources to both? The danger of the latter approach is that you end up having to settle for mediocrity (in the true sense of the word), and we already have a fair number of mid-rotation possibilities. What seems increasingly clear, is that this is just the first shot in the winter salvos for the Diamondbacks. I'm definitely thinking this won't be the last move of the winter, nor will it be the biggest.