Another starting pitcher?
Sure, we got the best pitcher on the free-agent market, for the next six years. But the team is still sitting at about $15-20 million (depending on those financials) below their expected payroll of $100 million for 2016. Should they be looking at another piece for the rotation? Right now, we have Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray, all but inked into three of the five spots. If the season started tomorrow [and, boy, do I wish it did!] the remaining two could be any combination of Chase Anderson, Aaron Blair, Archie Bradley, Rubby De La Rosa, Zack Godley and anyone else. If that ends up being the case, that isn't a bad selection, from which to pick your #4 and #5 starters.
However, it appears that management have decided that the future is now, and the window of opportunity begins in 2016, and likely lasts thereafter for as long as the holy trinity of Grienke, Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock take us [They're all under team control through at least 2018] I can see the appeal of picking up another starting pitcher; he doesn't have to be an "ace", given he'll be nominally occupying the back of the rotation. A solid #2-3 starter would, arguably, give the Diamondbacks the best rotation, front to back, in the division. [Not that this is saying much currently, with LA having Kershaw and the Four Dwarves, and SF in much the same situation behind Bumgarner]
The team still seems to be engaged in dialogue with the Atlanta Braves for Shelby Miller:
Diamondbacks have pushed on Shelby Miller in talks with Braves; ATL seemingly focused on OFers, especially Pollock, possible expanded deal.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) December 5, 2015
Oh, look. They're still asking for Pollock. deadhorse.png. I am somewhat comforted by Derrick Hall stating earlier in the week that Pollock is almost as untouchable as Goldschmidt, but if there's one thing this front-office has shown - and the Greinke signing is just the latest example - they have a tendency to zig, when everyone else expects them to zag. I wouldn't mind other parts of our outfield, considering the fairly solid depth, going to Atlanta for Miller, but if Pollock is going, the "expanded deal" to which Olney refers, had better be an oce-lot of other quality coming back this way, besides Miller.
There are still free agents out there who would fit the #2-3 spot as well. The team has already been explicitly connected to Mike Leake, by the same man who dropped arguably the biggest bomb in franchise history:
ICYMI: #DBacks met with Leake yesterday, still interested in him even after reaching agreement with Greinke, per sources.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) December 5, 2015
Johnnie Cueto is likely a little rich for the plate, and the $20 million posting fee for Kenta Maeda now seems less likely. But the likes of Wei-Yin Chen, Scott Kazmir or Yovani Gallaro on three or four year contracts, still appear to remain possibilities for the Diamondbacks.
As I write this, I note that shoe penned a Fanpost making the case that the team is still in the hunt for a closer or top reliever. That wouldn't surprise me. Buster Olney said, "Arizona worked extensively on putting together an Aroldis Chapman trade back in July," and the bullpen hasn't seen any new personnel of note arrive since then. While Olney reckons a deal now "seems unlikely," the addition of other arms to the relief corps, either through trade or free agency, seems possible.
I'm always leery of trading for relievers, in part because of their volatility, and in part because their cost is always more than their "true" value, particularly when they comes with shiny save numbers. Last year, 16 starting pitchers and 39 position players in the National League were worth three bWAR or better. Precisely zero relievers reached that mark, and barely a handful (8) even reached two wins in value. Yes, it's nice to have a reliable bullpen, and the intangible impact of a lockdown closer is hard to estimate. But if that comes at the expense of leaving other holes in the team unaddressed, you may be making a mistake.
That said, I don't see many issues with the offense, and as noted above, if we went into the season with the current rotation, post-Greinke, I'd not be over concerned, so if Ls Russa and Stewart can find good value bullpen arms, I'm down with that. Right now, our only situational lefty is an unreliable one, in Matt Reynolds (I view Andrew Chafin more as long relief) - I would have been happy to get free-agent Oliver Perez back in Arizona, but he signed a two-year $7m deal with the Nationals the other day. Coincidentally, there are a slew of other former D-back LOOGYs on the market this year, including Tony Sipp, Joe Thatcher and Craig Breslow. Hell, even Randy Choate is available.
Filling out the bench
I don't see many spots left to fill on the position player side of things at this point, though naturally that may change in the event of further trades. We have Castillo, Goldschmidt, Owings, Ahmed and Lamb on the infield, with Peralta, Pollock and Inciarte in the outfield. Hill, Drury, Tomas and Gosselin would be the bench players, and the other slot would be needed for a backup catcher. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is looking for a starter's spot at the present time, with Baltimoe one possible destination. While we should get Tuffy back at some point, no-one is expecting that for Opening Day, so Chris Herrman, acquired from the Twins for Daniel Palka might be an adequate stand-in there.
We're still going to be in the same situation we were with Hill as last year: paying $12 million for a bench guy seems like an awful lot of money. It wouldn't surprise me if the team tries to shift him, though I am hoping we will not need to go the Bronson Arroyo/Heath Bell route, of packaging the player with a prospect in order to get rid of him. - unlike Arroyo, Hill's count of functioning limbs passes three. We would almost certainly have to pony up some cash, but if we can find a taker for, say, half the salary, that would still be a saving of $6 million, that could go to other areas of need.
Things have happened a lot faster than expected this off-season, particularly compared to last year, where it seemed like no-one signed until Christmas. Here we are, still before the winter meetings, and four of MLB Trade Rumors' top five starting pitches are already inked with new clubs. The Diamondbacks have done what was necessary, in a way which surprised even those of us fans who had crunched the numbers and realized we did have the budget to make a splash. If to some extent, we can now wait for the rest of the NL West to play catch-up, I don't expect La Russa and Stewart to take the rest of the year off, and the winter meetings should still be interesting!