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Surveying the Arizona Diamondbacks landscape post-Aaron Hill

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Now the dust has settled on the trade that send Aaron Hill, Chase Anderson and Isan Diaz to Milwaukee for Jean Segura and Tyler Wagner, let's take a look and see what it means for the Diamondbacks in 2016 and beyond.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Salary

The team will be sending $5.5 million to the Brewers, who will be paying the remaining $6.5 million of the money due to Aaron Hill in 2016. Chase Anderson and Tyler Wagner are both pre-arbitration, and would be at or near league minimum, so that's a wash. Jean Segura was in his first year of arbitration and agreed to a one-year deal with the Brewers a couple of weeks ago, which sees the infielder get paid $2.6 million (quite a bit below the MLBTR estimate, incidentally, which was $3.2 million).

Since we've also settled with just about everyone on the team eligible for arbitration since the last time we looked at salaries, probably a good opportunity to revisit the projected 2016 payroll for the Diamondbacks. There is now just A.J. Pollock's case to settle, and since the two sides are so close, I don't see that as an issue, here are the D-backs due to earn significantly more than league minimum this year:

  • Zack Greinke - $24 million
  • Yasmany Tomas - $7.5 million
  • Paul Goldschmidt - $5.88 million
  • Brad Ziegler - $5.5 million
  • Aaron Hill - $5.5 million [with Milwaukee]
  • Shelby Miller - $4.35million
  • A.J. Pollock - $3.9 million*
  • Welington Castillo - $3.7 million
  • Daniel Hudson - $2.7 million
  • Jean Segura - $2.6 million
  • Patrick Corbin - $2.52 million
  • Rubby De La Rosa - $2.35 million
  • Josh Collmenter - $1.825 million
  • Randall Delgado - $1.27 million
  • Cody Ross - $1 million [buyout of 2016 option]
  • Matt Reynolds - $675K

* That's the figure submitted by Pollock for his arbitration case. The D-backs countered at $3.65 million, so there's only a gap of a quarter-million.

Tallying that all up, we get a figure of $75.27 million for 14 players under contract. If we fill up the rest of the 25-man roster with another 11 at league minimum ($507,500 last year, not likely to change much for 2016), we're at $80.85 million for an Opening Day payroll this year. That's pretty low: almost $11 million less than at the same point in 2015, and would have been more than only three major-league teams (the Marlins, Astros and Rays). It also means, right now, about 30% of the entire payroll will be going to Greinke - and that's not counting the deferrals. I'd be carefully winding him up in bubblewrap and storing him in a Chase Field closet between his starts.

The obvious question is whether the team intends to stick at that for now. Speaking in October, Derrick Hall said he "anticipates the 2016 payroll being close to $100 million, although the team still has to decide whether to lay up short of that number to have room for midseason additions." There's something in favor of that as a tactic: wait and see what holes need by filled, once we have actual performances to measure. Though the down side, of course, is any ground lost as a result of, say, deficiencies in the bullpen, is irretrievable at that point.

The middle infiield

In some ways, the swap of Hill for Segura doesn't really change the situation; both are right-handed, and neither have been even mediocre offensively over the past couple of seasons, though Segura's defense appears to be superior by some metrics, and his baserunning is clearly better. Overall, in 2014-15, Segura was worth a total of 0.6 bWAR, while Hill came in at -1.5 bWAR. Segura also has better upside, though that's simply because expecting any kind of return to form for Hill at the age of 34, is the stuff of true wishful thinking.

If Segura, who'll turn 26 shortly before Opening Day, can get his OPS+ back to his career average of 81, that would be particularly helpful. There is a case to be made that his recent performance was affected by the death of his nine-month-old son in July 2014, but there's only so far that can go in terms of an explanation. The Diamondbacks will certainly want Segura to improve his plate discipline. No qualifying batter in the majors had fewer walks than Segura's 13, with 19 the next-lowest by any NL hitter; he made Chris Owings look like the embodiment of patience, which is quite some feat.

It's also hard to work out where Segura will play. The obvious, probably most logical location would be to replace Hill at second-base, but Dave Stewart's comments yesterday [obvious caveat: Dave Stewart commenting] made it seem like they are looking to play Segura at SS. Would that take Nick Ahmed out of the line-up? While Ahmed didn't hit much, his defense was stellar, and overall he was decent value (1.7 fWAR, 2.5 bWAR). Shifting him to second would certainly decrease the use of Ahmed's arm, quite possibly negating any positive gained by replacing the hellish Hill/Owings combo on offense. I sense a "spring questions" piece in the offing.

The rotation

This move does remove one of the potential candidates for the fifth spot in the rotation, and it's a significant one, as Chase Anderson threw more innings for the Diamondbacks last year than anyone apart from Rubby De La Rosa. Right now, the final slot appears to be a two-way battle between De La Rosa and Archie Bradley, with other possible candidates outside bets, such as Zack Godley and Daniel Hudson. The young pitcher we got, Tyler Wagner, has only three major-league starts to his name, and does not appear to be an immediate candidate, Stewart seeming to regard him as providing pitching depth.

Isan Diaz

Over at Brew Crew Ball, they seem ecstatic to the point of delirium about picking up Diaz, which seems just a little premature, considering he has never faced a pitch above rookie bal.. Sure, a .360 average from a teenage is very nice, but that was heavily driven by a .434 BABIP, which is utterly unsustainable. He's certainly far from a sure thing. On a whim, I cranked the Pioneer League clock back to 2010, and the first comparable line I found was Rafael Ortega, who hit .358 with nine HR in the that season as a nineteen-year-old. He has two major-league games to his credit, both in 2012, and has since been allowed to leave by the Rockies, Rangers and Cardinals.

Perhaps even more amusingly, you know who hit .346, with an OPS over .900, as a nineteen-year-old in the 2009 Pioneer League? Jean Segura. So, yeah: Diaz has potential, no argument there. But there are also plenty of reasons Baseball America listed his as only the ninth-best Arizona prospect - probably putting him somewhere round about #300 in baseball overall, considering we're likely currently below average in terms of a farm system. With the team clearly perceiving their window of contention as beginning now, converting Diaz into immediate help makes some sense. Though you can certainly argue whether Segura represents that immediate help.