In what might be one of the more quieter Winter Meetings I’ve seen, the Diamondbacks didn’t really do much over the week. The team was linked to various rumors, but trade talks never really got serious and the team is displaying a cautious approach overall. So far it looks like the team will mostly look to improve at the margins and the bottom half of the roster, but a big trade could always surface later.
INF Chris Owings to play super utility role
The Diamondbacks infielder has had his share of misfortune in his MLB career since coming up as a shortstop prospect in 2013. Once a promising shortstop prospect, Owings has struggled with injuries in every season at the MLB level. Over that time period, other players have stepped up and pushed him out of a starting role. With Ketel Marte and Brandon Drury entrenched as the starting middle infielders along with Nick Ahmed in the mix, there wasn’t any playing time for Owings at either middle infield spot. He has experience in center field and right field, so a move is very possible. At the same time, Owings doesn’t have positive platoon splits against LHP in his career (73 wRC+ vs. LHP, 78 vs. RHP) although that production is an upgrade over LHHs Jake Lamb (47) and David Peralta (73). Perhaps they can play him in RF vs. RHP and at 3B vs. LHP.
Patrick Corbin gained interest, nothing materialized
With one year of team control left and at a $8M price tag for an above average starter coming off a 189 inning season I figured Corbin would be at least shopped. The Dbacks got calls for Corbin, with the Yankees being the one team was obviously linked, but nothing materialized yet. I still expect teams to keep tabs on if the Dbacks plan to trade Corbin, who is arguably the best trade chip the team currently has.
Rangers, Phillies, Yankees, and a Mystery Team called about Greinke’s availability
With teams looking for a way to improve their rotation, they were going to naturally ask of Greinke’s availability. The Dbacks do have a potential contract problem with Greinke moving forward, but they’re not in a rush to offload the contract. Personally I think Greinke has 1-2 more years of pitching at a high level and another couple pitching at an above average starting level, but the season his play severely declines the team is underwater with the contract. The Rangers were the first reported team, but that trade idea was shot down when the Rangers wanted to do a swap of bad contracts for Shin-Soo Choo. The Phillies, Yankees, and the unidentified 4th team are still talking with the Dbacks over a potential trade.
Dbacks showed interest in relievers Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Rodney
The Diamondbacks ultimately were linked to Kintzler and Rodney, but both ended up signing with other teams. Kintzler re-upped with the Nationals on a 2-year deal and Rodney a 1-year deal with the Twins. The team did trade for Brad Boxberger, who does have closing experience in 2015, so the team could slot him in the 9th inning role. Archie Bradley is another candidate to close, although that limits the way that Lovullo can manage games when his best reliever is pigeonholed for the 9th inning.
Dbacks lose prospect Victor Reyes (OF) and Brad Keller (RH starter) in Rule V Draft, select former Giants RHP Albert Suarez: Losing Reyes (1st pick in draft) hurts more than Keller, although both players were ahead of the age curve for AA. Reyes had a so-so season followed up by a strong fall league performance. Reyes still has untapped potential although he’s produced above average numbers at the plate for 3 consecutive years in the Diamondbacks organization. Reyes likely had the floor of a 4th OF type who can play all 3 spots well enough defensively to possibly a starter as a ceiling at the MLB level. With the Diamondbacks short on outfield depth, that has to be a bitter pill to swallow. That may also explain the Cesar Puello signing, the team likely anticipated losing Reyes.
Losing Keller hurts the farm a bit as well because despite taking a small step backwards in AA, his 3.58 FIP and 3.86 xFIP suggested he was a bit unlucky. Keller is only 22 and there was still growth left in his game, particular since I expected him to improve repeating the AA level. The other arms in the AA rotation last year are more organizational filler or bullpen types whereas Keller actually had a decent chance of breaking into an MLB rotation. It will be interesting to see how the Royals deploy him.
Later in the draft, the Diamondbacks picked up a familiar opponent in Albert Suarez. The 28 year old reliever was a replacement level pitcher for the Giants as both a starter and a reliever before getting outrighted after the 2017 season. As a reliever, Suarez posted a 25.2% strikeout rate vs. a 8.2% walk rate and was around league average in ground ball rate and HR/FB rate. He posted a terrible 5.12 ERA for the Giants, but posted an FIP of 3.78 (93 FIP-), xFIP of 3.79 (87 xFIP-), and a SIERA of 3.57. Those suggest he was unlucky and presents a buy-low opportunity for the Diamondbacks, who need to hit on a couple more moves like this to stay ahead of their National League competitors.
The Diamondbacks roster did not change much over the Winter Meetings, losing Fernando Rodney to the Twins after losing Chris Iannetta to the Rockies. JD Martinez is still un-signed although I’ll be surprised if the Red Sox don’t sign him. Most of the week was the Diamondbacks talking about potential trades regarding their middle infield, Corbin, and Greinke. Perhaps most of the dialogue that went on during the meetings may roll over the coming days for potential trade talks, but I don’t get the sense the team is done making major moves.