The Diamondbacks will be hard-pressed to repeat their success from 2017 and the moves the front office makes in December will go a long way in determining if they will. 2018 will be harder than 2017 with Colorado and San Diego taking major steps forward over the season in addition to the Dodgers being at the top of the National League. Most of the core that fueled the 2017 run will still be in place, but the team has a lot of players from the bullpen going into free agency in addition to slugger J.D. Martinez who is probably moving on to another team. The Diamondbacks have a couple core players on expiring contracts in addition to a logjam in the middle infield that needs to be sorted out. In order to fix issues with the roster, the Diamondbacks may have to let a player go a year early in a trade.
These are the players the Diamondbacks could shop in the Winter Meetings:
OF AJ Pollock: Pollock’s free agent value is very dependent on him staying healthy, as Pollock hasn’t had a fully healthy season since 2015. Given the Diamondbacks issues in CF, the team really shouldn’t trade Pollock unless they’re starting to rebuild. Pollock hit around league average and played above average defense in center field in 2017, so a healthy 2018 could set up Pollock for a big contract and the Diamondbacks could gain a 3rd round pick in 2019 by placing a qualifying offer on him should he sign with another team. The window to sign Pollock to a long term deal has completely evaporated, so it’s only a matter of what compensation the team will get when he leaves.
LHP Patrick Corbin: Like Pollock, Corbin is on the final year of team control and is set to become a free agent after the season. After battling back from Tommy John surgery and growing pains due to coming back from it in 2016, Corbin rebounded in 2017. Corbin was able to provide about 190 innings of slightly above average pitching for the Diamondbacks and was a big part of getting the Diamondbacks out of their midseason malaise with a strong finish to the season. Corbin is not likely a free agent that will command a qualifying offer, which is why trading him makes more sense than it would for Pollock.
INF Chris Owings: The Diamondbacks have a logjam in the middle infield with two established veterans in Owings and Nick Ahmed giving way to younger players in Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury in 2017. Owings’ value is in his defensive versatility, where he can hold his own at SS, 2B, and RF. The Diamondbacks could alleviate the logjam in the infield by permanently moving Owings into the outfield, especially considering what the team has in left field. It’s unlikely the team moves Owings, who has battled through shoulder, foot, and hand injuries in his MLB career, this year because his value is at possibly his lowest. It looked like Owings was taking a major step forward offensively, but a horrible July slump and a broken finger ended his season in misery.
INF Brandon Drury: Drury is still very much inconsistent at the plate, but his overall production took a step back in Year 2. At the same time, it’s too early to give up on Drury because he’s still the best bat of the Diamondbacks middle infield options and he’s only 25. Drury’s defense got better at 2B as the season progressed, to the point where it shouldn’t steal from his offensive value at all. 2018 could also be a breakout year for him, considering the history of other players on the roster having that breakout season at his current age. I currently have him penciled in as the starting 2B for the 2018 team.
RHP Zack Greinke: A lot of this has to do with the major contract he’s signed with the Diamondbacks. In his 2nd year with the team, Greinke was worth every penny as he finished 4th in the NL Cy Young race behind Stephen Strasburg, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw. While Greinke is still pitching at a high level, the contract could become a problem a couple years down the road and Greinke can still fetch a solid enough return now. In terms of where I think he’ll be on Opening Day 2018, you can probably find him in the Diamondbacks dugout. Trading Greinke would only make sense if the Diamondbacks are starting the rebuild process.