With the Winter Meetings coming up next month, that’s when the Diamondbacks will make the glut of their offseason moves. The front office faces a huge challenge in trying to re-tool a roster that will likely lose OF J.D. Martinez in free agency. The Diamondbacks rode strong starting pitching and the best two months of Martinez’s career to 93 wins and the top wild card spot in the National League, which earned manager Torey Lovullo Manager of the Year honors. The Diamondbacks will enter 2018 with the expectation of being able to stick around given most of the team’s core is set to return.
The Diamondbacks will need to find a way to leverage some of their shorter term assets to acquire longer term ones, similar to when they traded Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger, and Zac Curtis to the Seattle Mariners for Taijuan Walker and Ketel Marte last year. The Diamondbacks benefitted greatly from Walker and Marte’s contributions, both proving they are here to stick around. Looking at the Diamondbacks roster, here are the top assets to the team.
- 1B Paul Goldschmidt: The Diamondbacks first baseman once again finished in the Top 3 in the MVP voting, making it the 3rd time in 5 seasons. Over the last 5 seasons, he’s averaging 6.2 bWAR and has been the face of the Diamondbacks franchise since 2013. The team controls him for 2 more seasons at $11.1M for 2018 plus a $14.5M club option for 2019 ($2M buyout), but this is a no-brainer to exercise. The Diamondbacks should not put Goldschmidt in the trade market unless they are 100% committed to rebuilding because he’s not worth dealing unless there is a can’t refuse offer (Organization’s Top 3 prospects at the minimum).
- LHP Robbie Ray: Ray will be entering his Arb 1 season for 2018 and is controlled for 3 more seasons. Ray is also an extension candidate as he developed more consistency in 2017 with his curveball and the results made him a Top 10 LHP in baseball. Ray still has growth potential in his game as he learns to fine-tune his command and control. Ray shouldn’t even be on the market this offseason given 3 years of control and no pitcher of equal potential in the Dbacks minor league system.
- RHP Zack Godley: The Diamondbacks control Godley for the next 5 seasons and he’s coming out of a breakout year where he went from an afterthought to a potential foundational piece. Godley improved his command greatly to the point where you knew that the Dbacks had a really good chance to win every time he took the mound. The command is still not perfect, in each of his starts he may have the one inning where walks and/or fluky hits dropping in plague him. If the Diamondbacks aren’t sold on him being able to repeat that season, he makes for a great trade asset although a pitcher with elite ground ball ability that can miss bats is someone that shouldn’t be moved in his prime.
- 1B Pavin Smith: This is a Top 10 assets list, and that does include minor league players. The Dbacks selected Smith 7th overall in the 2017 Draft, and I expect him to shoot up through the minors relatively quick. For the Dbacks to make any big acquisitions in the trade market, Smith will likely be most team’s asking prices. Smith’s arrival is likely tied to Goldschmidt’s exit from the team.
- LHP Anthony Banda: As the Diamondbacks’ most MLB ready pitching prospect, Banda is another guy teams will ask for in trades. Banda reached the MLB level in his Age 23 season and on the outside looking in for a rotation spot this Spring, especially if the team retains Patrick Corbin for his final controllable season. Given Greinke’s age and Corbin’s impending free agency, which makes Corbin a trade target, the Dbacks are best served to hold onto his 6 years of control.
- RHP Archie Bradley: Bradley is still a pre-arbitration pitcher, narrowly missing out on the Super 2 cutoff, with 4 seasons of team control left. Bradley’s value as an asset is tied to what role he will play long term although in the team’s current window of contention he’s more valuable as a reliever than starter. Whether his career returns him to the rotation or he winds up as the team’s closer, the Dbacks probably don’t want to trade the fan favorite unless they’re 100% committed to rebuilding although in that scenario Bradley should get a tryout in the rotation first.
- RHP Jon Duplantier: Duplantier follows the same rule as Smith and Banda. In trades, teams will ask for him given his Minor League Pitcher of the Year performance in 2017 and upward trajectory as a prospect. Duplantier is a guy the Dbacks should make plans for long term, with health as the only issue that will prevent him from reaching the majors.
- INF Ketel Marte: Marte earned his way into being an everyday player, outperforming Chris Owings, Nick Ahmed, and Brandon Drury in his short stint. Unlike the other 3 aforementioned players, Marte has a more balanced skill on offense with walks being a major element added to his game. Marte’s offensive game still has room for improvement as he develops a bit more pop in his bat and becomes a more consistent baserunner. The only long term question I have is if he’s starting at SS, 2B, or both.
- RHP Zack Greinke: As an aging pitcher on a large contract, Greinke as a long term asset isn’t quite as valuable as his 6.0 bWAR 2017 season provided. Greinke’s stuff declined in 2017, but he worked his way around it by improving his command and preying on the hitter’s aggressiveness. In addition to being a cerebral pitcher, Greinke is the best defensive pitcher in baseball, winning his 3rd consecutive Gold Glove, and that has value in terms of run prevention. I do think the Diamondbacks should always look for a way to get out of the contract soon given he’s due $138.5M over the final 4 seasons on the contract. I still think Greinke has 2-3 more quality years left in him, but I also don’t think he’s the best pitcher on the team anymore as well.
- 3B Jake Lamb: Lamb had a solid season in 2017, reaching his first All-Star game, but also had a terrible second half slump repeat. Given Lamb’s poor range on defense, which eats into his offensive value, there is limited upside in his game. His value goes with his bat providing big hits and driving in runs and hoping his defense doesn’t eat too much into it. Even though Brandon Drury came up as a 3B, Lamb has more long term value given the huge discrepancy in the bat between the two, which makes Lamb the better player in both trade value and on the field.
The Diamondbacks probably don’t want to deal any of the 10 players I listed if they still hope to compete in 2018 unless they get a can’t refuse offer from another team. Goldschmidt, Ray, Godley, Marte, Bradley, Greinke, and Lamb are all guys that can contribute to the team for at least the next two seasons while Smith, Banda, and Duplantier are prospects who are close to MLB ready and are part of the likely replacements for the first set of players I mentioned. I do think the team will be dealing from its core in order to add longer term pieces like A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin, who are on expiring contracts, which is why they didn’t make the Top 10.