In contrast to previous seasons, there’s just one option which needs to be decided at the end of the 2017 season. It feels as if the team’s strategy shifted more towards fixed-length contracts, where the costs were variable, due to incentives, like the deals given to Fernando Rodney and Gregor Blanco. The only Diamondback with any kind of option - team, player or mutual - is Daniel Descalso. There’s a team option for 2018, which would cost Arizona $2 million to exercise, or a relatively trivial $150K if they choose to let him go. If we retain him, that would be roughly a 50% increase over Descalso’s cost in 2017, which was $1.35 million.
His flexibility was an asset. He started games at second (31), left (10), first (7) and third (6), also appeared at shortstop, and even pitched twice in mop-up, retiring all six batters faced. [He has a career 2.1 innings without allowing a base-runner. Only three men in baseball history, none since 1954, have had more] But like Chris Herrmann, you can argue a case he wasn’t very good at them. The offense was much what was expected, an OPS+ of 82 being right in line with his career number of 81. He certainly had his moments, most memorably a walk-off homer in the 13th inning, to break a scoreless tie against the Rockies on Apr 30, and an inside-the-park HR on Aug 13.
However, defensively, he was below average by UZR at every starting position bar the easiest, 1B. As a result, his overall value was little if any better than replacement level: +0.1 fWAR, but -0.3 bWAR. By the latter metric, he was more valuable to the Diamondbacks as a pitcher. There’s a case to be made that Arizona can get the same level of production from a player for minimum salary, and put the roughly $1.5 million saved to better use. But that would only be the case, if the team has someone to hand who can play both all around the infield, and also not make a fool of himself in the outfield. For, especially in the NL, a utility guy has additional value.
Looking at the Reno Aces and how they used their roster, the most obvious candidate would appear to be Kristopher Negron, whom by coincidence, Makakilo reviewed just yesterday, concluding Negron “could be a valuable asset on the bench”. The player started games at every position on the diamond except pitcher and catcher for Reno - and even filled in at the first of these for the Aces, tossing an inning of relief [though did allow two runs, so advantage Descalso there]. It’s a small sample size at the major-league level, with a total of only 110 games for Negron since 2012, but his OPS+ of 75 would not seem all that worse than Descalso’s.
His team-mates do speak glowingly about him. Catcher Jeff Mathis said earlier this month, “It’s really hard to describe what he’s done for us. The roles he’s filled in for and the way he’s swung the bat and the big hits he has (had). I couldn’t say enough about what he’s done especially in this clubhouse. Big, big acquisition, and I’m really happy to have him in this clubhouse.” But despite that, being described by Beyond the Box Score as “a profile in clutchiness,” (his line in late & close situations this year was .293/.438/.517, a .956 OPS) and his ability to play multiple different roles, I’m not convinced we should exercise. I am open to being convinced, however, so convince me!
Should we exercise the Descalso option?
This poll is closed
Yes, $2 million is fine.
No, pay the $150K buyout.