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Round-Table: Diamondbacks Contracts for 2016

As the off-season gets under way, we look at some of the contract decisions to be made - or already made! - for the Arizona Diamondbacks

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Contract decisions of one kind or another for these current or former Diamondbacks need to be made after the World Series. Should we try to re-sign them?

  • David Hernandez
  • Oliver Perez
  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia

James: Unless he is coming cheap, I'm not bringing back David Hernandez. The club already has pre-arb candidates to replace him. I'm a bit on the fence about Oliver Perez, only because he is left-handed. If the team can get him on an inexpensive 1-2 year deal for under $3 million per year, I think there is something to be said for bringing him back to pair with Chafin as a lefty out of the bullpen. There just aren't any other left-handed candidates out there that bowl me over that I would rather have.

Salty is an enigma. I am not a big fan of bringing him back, yet the team needs another catcher besides Castillo and it needs another LHB off the bench. Saltalamacchia has indicated he wishes to pursue another chance at starting somewhere. If that is the case, let him go. If he is willing to be a cheap 25th man and be used heavily as a LHPH, then I guess I probably do bring him back.

Piratedan7: I think we should see if we can sign Ollie Perez back. For what he does, I find him useful and I think he actually likes living and playing in Arizona. Dhern, maybe he needs another year to recapture what was lost in regards to making a full recovery. Big question, what will it cost them to find out? I think we let him walk (and he'll sign with the Giants and be awesome based on our luck). Jarrod has publicly stated he wants to start and I have mentioned before that he might actually be the 31st best catcher in the Big Leagues, if wants to find that team, he can go, I believe that between Tuffy, O'Brien (I know, I know) and Oscar that we can cobble together some reasonable facsimile of a backup backstop.

Steven Burt: I wouldn't mind having Perez back. He was solid during his stint in a Diamondback uniform and I can only assume was a bullpen favorite amongst teammates. He's probably earned a raise from his paltry contract two seasons ago (thanks kevin towers!) and should have suitors, meaning his price should approach the Zach Duke level ($5 million AAV). If he wants to take a 2 year deal worth $8 million, let's do it. If not, at least we have Matt Reynolds.

For both David Hernandez and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, I would pass on having both of them back. David showed to be too hittable up there for my liking and saw a drop in velocity from previous years. If he has a workout where he's back at the mid-90's, sign him to a make good 1-year deal and work from there. If not, we have options in the minors to replace him. Salty is bad and does nothing to improve our porous situation behind the plate. Give the starter's job to Welington Castillo and let Tuffy work his way back.

Clefo: No, maybe if I was drunk, probably not, in that order.

Makakilo: Oliver Perez could backup Ziegler as a closer. See this link for some considerations.

Jim: Certainly kick the tires on Perez, who was solid and cheap for us before going to Houston. But I think Hernandez's time here is over. I find myself illogically sad about that, since he's one of the "veterans" here, having been on the D-backs since 2011. He was actually very good in 2011-12, with an ERA+ of 137, but he was largely ineffectve in 2013 and hasn't come back from TJ as we'd have hoped. We have younger, cheaper, probably better alternatives. I think Salty will get better offers from elsewhere, and I'm fine with that; I'd rather have a backup who is better defensively.

  • Jeremy Hellickson
  • Matt Reynolds
  • Jhoulys Chacin

James: I non-tender Hellickson as quickly as possible. As for Reynolds, I probably tender him a contract. Yes, he is Arb 3, but he has yet to have a breakout campaign in terms of inflated salary. Like Perez above, he throws from the left side and Chafin needs a 2nd lefty out there in the bullpen. If PErez isn't back, Reynolds probably becomes the next best candidate. He was nothing special for the big league club in 2015, but he was not atrocious either. If he is reasonably priced, he is easy to move if he becomes surplus to needs. If estimates are right, and Chacin comes in for his final year of arbitration under $3 million, I take a flyer on him. Anything over that and I'm not sold. He is working too hard and finding too much of his success through smoke and mirrors. If there is a comeback player candidate to be had for the Diamondbacks though, he is probably the one.

Makakilo: Hellickson is predicted to make $6.6 million in arbitration. Non-tendering him adds $6.6 million towards adding a TOR free-agent pitcher. Non-tender is a no-brainer.

Piratedan7: As mentioned above, Hellickson gets non-tendered (or roughened, if you prefer that imagery) imho. I think they make qualifying offers to Chacin and Reynolds to cover their prospective patooties. I can't see arbitrators giving either an undeserved windfall based on the raw numbers.

Steven: I hate wasting those two prospects for one year of Hellickson, but what's done is done. Try to find a team willing to pick up the option, if not non-tender and cut your losses. Matt Reynolds is projected at $800,000 and should easily be tradeable at that number if they do sign a lefty in FA. Jhoulys Chacin is an interesting case. He's projected at $1.8 million, which is nothing for a starter at his level. If the D-backs think they won't be able to sign their guys, Chacin is an acceptable replacement in the rotation but probably not at that value. I'd lean towards non-tendering and looking to re-sign him at a value closer to league minimum.

Clefo: Hellickson should be so non-tendered that he's insensitive to other people's feelings and pain. (Actually given the way he pitched this year, that's probably true.) The other two would be fine if the price was right, if only for depth, and depth is nice to have.

Jim: I hope the team has the guts to let Hellickson walk, but he was virtually the first player acquired by Dave Stewart, and as such, that gives him about a +2 on his saving throw. I don't think Chacin was as good as he seemed, but you could certainly do an awful lot worse in terms of rotational depth [he's still only 27, younger than Chase Anderson!] Reynolds is a bit like Hernandez, and I don't think he has 100% recovered from the surgery. Maybe a back up option to Perez, but no more than that.

  • Josh Collmenter ($1.82m)
  • Brad Ziegler ($5.5m)

James: I exercise both of these options. That just seems too easy. Ziegler's value is obvious, and right now there are too many questions about the pitching staff to just cut Collmenter loose at this point. If the bullpen and rotation both improve significantly, he becomes a very easy piece to move at the deadline.

Makakilo: I would exercise both options. Although Josh Collmenter started 12 games in 2015, I would keep him in the pen as a long reliever. There will not be room for him in the rotation due to a free agency addition and promotion of Aaron Blair or Archie Bradley.

piratedan7: I think we're going to retain Ziegler and somehow, someway, I think Josh is going to be coupled in a trade with somebody. I think he has value and someone else will want him as part of their own solution. For some reason Cleveland comes to mind.

Steven: These two are the easiest options. Both are solid values and are easily tradeable if need be.

Clefo: Ziegler's price seems a bit much, but I'd still pick up both.

Jim: I'm with everyone else. Decent value for both, but the question of Ziegler's role needs to be sorted. He probably has most value as a free-range reliever, but if they also want a regular closer, Brad then needs to be replaced. I don't think we have any shortage of internal candidates, between Hudson, Bracho and Burgos. That said, $5.5 million for a non-closer is rich, but games don't always need to be saved in the ninth. Collmenter is trivial. Just don't make him the Opening Day starter, and we'll be golden.

[And, lo, it was announced earlier today that both options were indeed exercised]

Here are our other arbitration candidates. Are there any you think we should be looking to lock up for more than one year?

  • Patrick Corbin
  • Randall Delgado
  • Daniel Hudson
  • A.J. Pollock
  • Rubby De La Rosa

James: The only one I extend before the season starts is A.J. Pollock, and that is assuming he can be had for the right price. Anything under probably 5/60 and I pull the trigger. I still think he will age well enough to be worth it, especially given what wins above replacement are going for now. As for the others, Hudson and Corbin are ones to watch, especially if Hudson rejoins the rotation. If he rejoins and pitches relatively well, I try locking him up mid-season to another 2-3 year deal. I want to see what 160 innings of Corbin 2.0 looks like before extending him, but if he pitches as expected, I would be aggressive about extending him next winter.

Piratedan7: I think we extend AJ if we don't deal him. Everyone else is still in the "prove it to me" stage for one reason or another, be it injury or sustained performance.

Steven: I'd look to extend both Corbin and Pollock, at whatever cost necessary. Those two have earned my trust and need to be on this team supporting Goldy. Everyone else is unproven and have question marks surrounding them.

Clefo: Extend Pollock of that group, go year to year with anyone else as need be. I'd want to see another year from Corbin before doing anything.

Jim: Much as I'd like to get Hudson and Corbin inked in, they are pitchers, still coming back off surgery which is by no means a sure thing. Huddy now has a full year under his belt, but his was a more problematic process, requiring double TJ, so I think we need more caution. But if all still goes well by the All-Star break, maybe think about it. Pollock should either be signed long-term, or the centerpiece of a deal to get Matt Harvey from the Mets. I'm not entirely kidding there.

There was some discussion this week about whether the team should attempt to sign John Lackey, with Nick Piecoro calling him "a perfect fit" for the Diamondbacks. What's your opinion?

James: I'm not sure I would quite call Lackey a "perfect" fit. I do think having Duncan, Butcher, and TLR all around increase the degree to which he fits, as does his veteran experience. While some are concerned about a second Arroyo, the concern with Arroyo was largely that he had been operating with zero room for error for a few years and fit the profile of a pitcher unlikely to age well for much longer. He broke even sooner than many of us doomsayers feared though. Lackey has experienced far more success and still retains some margin for error should his performance take a step back. By no means can that be a big step, but he can still slip some. Given what any other 200 inning ERA+ 100+ pitcher is going to cost, I could see Lackey on a modest 2-year deal. Anything over $12-13 million AAV (however it is split) makes him more expensive than I am comfortable with though. Also, I avoid the big buyout that Arroyo had, which may have been the very worst part of his contract.

Makakilo: Four reasons I would not want John Lackey as a Diamondback.

  1. Injury risk is high. a) He had Tommy John surgery in 2012. I read that 6-7 years later the arm is again at risk (which is 2018-2019). b) He is 37 years old. c) an STL Cardinal Baseball article on 6 September said his velocity was higher than 2007 - and I wonder is it sustainable? The article also said his velocity dropped 2mph from June to August - and I wonder is it fatigue that could lead to injury? d) In 2015, he started 33 games - the most in the NL, and he pitched 218 innings, the fourth most in the NL. I wonder is that sustainable?

  2. He will not be a bargain. His ERA+ of 143 is the highest since 2007, and much better than 2013 (117) or 2014(102). Would the Diamondbacks be buying high, paying for a career high year that will not be repeated?

  3. I doubt he can add leadership to the club. An article called him a "grumpy starter." What kind of rapport can a 37-year old, grumpy starter have with the youngest team in baseball?

  4. He gave up a lot of home runs in the last three years (26 in 2013, 24 in 2014, and 21 in 2015). Pitching at Chase field could inflate the number of home runs.

Piratedan7: sorry, want younger arms, like Carrasco, Shelby Miller... I know that we got burned with Cahill. The reasoning was sound, the performance was not.

Steven: It reminds me of Bronson Arroyo honeslty. Let's stop paying old guys off of reputation shall we? I know he pitched well last year, but some of it was luck (2.77 ERA vs. 3.57 FIP) and coming to Arizona would only magnify that.

Clefo: More like John Lacking, but I agree with the above that younger arms should be the goal, and why not reach for the stars on one of the big FAs? The worst they can do is say no. Actually, that's the secoind worst they could do, the worst they could do is sign for like 10/$800 MM... well not the worst they could do for them.

Jim: I can kinda see the appeal, since he has been solid over the past three years (total ERA+ of 117), and at age 37, won't be expecting a five- or six-year deal. But we will be paying for a contract year (ERA+ 143), and his FIP was 0.80 runs higher than his 2.77 ERA; he hasn't had any other seasons with an ERA+ even of 120 since 2007. I don't think there's any chance of significant upside, put it that way, though he could end up performing well enough.

What other free agent starting pitchers do you think we realistically should be looking at? [List here]

James: Right now it is still hard to say because team's still have the chance to make QOs. There are no pitchers outside of Price or Cueto (who are QO exempt) that I would feel comfortable sacrificing a draft pick for. Zimmermann just scares me too much that he will not age well into his 5-6 year contract, and the team needs to keep refilling the farm. Assuming no QO is offered, I would take a long-hard look at Chen. Yes, there are some concerns there, but those concerns might just make him affordable for the Diamondbacks, and he has had 4 solid years of success in the AL East now. Other than Lackey and Chen, the only pitchers I think they should be looking at are ones willing to consider make-good contracts.

Makakilo: I agree with James that Price, Cueto, and Chen are worth pursuing! Furthermore, a long-term contract with any of the three would be valuable. For a short-term contract, my preference would be Scott Kazmir instead of John Lackey. Both pitchers had Tommy John surgery in 2012. However, Kazmir has pitched 18% less innings after his Tommy John surgery,and is 31 years old instead of 37 years old. Because Kazmir struggled after being traded to Houston, his value will be down. A short contract at a reasonable price may be obtainable!

Piratedan7: I expect them to go after Mike Leake or Mr. Maeda... or not if they like what they see from Bradley, Blair and Shipley.

Steven: I really like Jordan Zimmerman, underwhelming fastball or not. Scott Kazmir as well. Obviously the top guys are fun, but impractical for a D-back team. If we're going to FA to solve our pitching problem, they need to be clear upgrades. We have youngsters that can and should take spots.

Clefo: Madea seems kinda probable, that'd be fun. Zimmermann would be worth a look. Colon would also be if only to keep him in the NL.

Jim: I expect to hear a lot of rumors, with the team reported as being "in" on just about everyone. I think that's part of the the game-plan, both to drive up the price for other teams, and make players believe we have other options. Which ones we're serious about? Only Stewart and La Russa probably know that.

Are there any other areas the team should look at in free-agency?

James: Saltalamacchia is almost certain to be gone. Tuffy being ready by Opening Day is an extreme long shot. Given that, the team does need to go out and find another catcher. Once again, Geovany Soto will be looking for a deal as a backup catcher. He would not be the worst backup option if he agrees to another 1-year deal. Depending on what sort of deal he is interested in, I might take a run at Alex Avila and use him as a backup catcher and LHPH. His bat does not inspire much confidence, but neither does Salty's. Avila does take a good number of walks to keep his OBP up in the .330 range, and he plays far better defense than Salty does. He is also 2 years younger. Avila is probably my first choice for the position. However, I suspect someone will give Avila more than 2 years and $8 million this winter, in which case, let them have him.

That would be about it for me for free agency. I want the rest of the team's needs addressed through promotion, trade, or both.

Makakilo: Mostly, I am reluctant to be distracted by anything other than starting pitching in free agency. Nevertheless, if Saltalamacchia leaves, the Diamondbacks will need a backup catcher. I see a potential opportunity because GM Alex Anthropous decided to leave the Blue Jays. In late September the GM said Dioner Navarro was the team's unsung hero this season. One reason is that It was widely agreed that Navarro made a big positive difference in how well Marco Estrada pitched. That's the kind of extra value that excites me about a catcher! The GM's replacement may want a change - undervaluing Navarro by focusing on tangible numbers instead of intangible but real contributions. A warmer climate and a reasonable price could make Dioner Navarro the Diamondback's unsung hero!

piratedan7: Middle infield still lends itself to speculation imho. Maybe we see emergence of someone like Drury or Gosselin or Ahmed. Maybe Owings fully recovers. It could simply require patience to let it sort itself out. Not something the franchise is known for.

I still have a nagging suspicion that we move (or try to) an OF and an IF piece and some unproven P talent to get a TOR piece. About the only untouchable(s) I see are Goldy and perhaps Corbin. The reason I say this is that we have good depth in the OF, Tomas should be healthier and better conditioned in the off-season. Was excited by the looksy that we got from Brito. That means imho someone could be moved, same for the IF mix of Lamb, Drury, Gosselin, Hill, Owings, Ahmed. Hill we let walk unless he has some incriminating negatives of LaRussa and/or Stewart, that still leaves five guys for three positions and other guys knocking on the door in the minors. Just sayin'.

Steven: Catcher is an obvious weak spot behind Castillo. One injury to him and we're in the same situation as before. The back of the bullpen could use some help, especially if you want Ziegler out of the closer role, like you should. 2nd base is still an issue, although I think Gosselin should be given every shot at starting. He played well for the team down the stretch and kind of validates the Touki trade a tiny bit.

Clefo: Backup Catcher and bullpen depth. Beyond that I feel the position groups are actually fairly solid for this team and don't need much tinkering. I could be wrong.

Jim: Non-closer bullpen arms might make sense, depending on how much faith we have in the young guys. I don't see us doing anything more significant than a backup catcher on the position player side, I think the 12 other position players we'll start with on Opening Day are, injury willing, all currently to be found on the 40-man roster.