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Reviewing potential Arizona Diamondbacks bullpen options

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GM Mike Hazen has said he’s still looking to add another reliever. Who’s left on the market?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Texas Rangers Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images

"There are still some guys out there that we're engaged with, talking to, getting a feel for, and I know other teams are as well. So we'll see how the market continues to progress. There are guys out there."
Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen

Right now, Arizona really appears only to have three pitchers who seem “guaranteed” to have 2017 bullpen spots: Jake Barrett, Randall Delgado and Fernando Rodney. Beyond that, there are a slew of possible candidates on the 40-man roster, more or less likely to have a roster slot. Silvino Bracho, Archie Bradley, Enrique Burgos, Andrew Chafin, Patrick Corbin, Zack Godley, Steve Hathaway, Tyler Jones, Matt Koch, Evan Marshall and Jimmie Sherfy are all possibilities. There are even some outside that, in the shape of non-roster invitees like Rubby De La Rosa and Jared Miller.

But based on Hazen’s comments, it seems the team is not happy with the internal options for this season, and is looking to see if additional help can be brought in. Let’s take a look at the “guys out there,” and see which ones might be on our radar.

Left-handers

A particular need for the team might be a southpaw. The only left-handed “pure” relievers currently on the 40-man roster are Chafin and Hathaway, though much depends on whether Corbin stays in the bullpen or goes back to being a starting pitcher. However, if he stays as a reliever, he would likely work as a set-up man for Fernando Rodney, rather than as a LOOGY. Chafin has been particularly tough on left-handers, holding them to a career .190 average, and his problems last year were more the result of right-handers smacking him around at a .311 clip and an .824 OPS. But, in turn, that was fueled by a .419 BABIP, so he may still be a more generic reliever.

Here are the main names still out there on the free-agent market.

  • Jerry Blevins
  • Craig Breslow
  • Chris Capuano
  • J.P. Howell
  • Boone Logan
  • Javier Lopez
  • Travis Wood

Blevins and Logan are likely the top names, and it appears they will likely command too high a price for Arizona’s interests. Ken Rosenthal said last week that both men are looking for deals at or in excess of two years and $12 million. Breslow is a former D-back who has been linked back to the team, Jon Morosi pointing out that he was in Boston along with both GM Mike Hazen and his assistant Jared Porter. Breslow appears to have reinvented himself: Peter Gammons said, “He has dropped his arm angle, worked on his breaking ball, hashed philosophy with [Rich] Hill and after an in person viewing, one scout described Breslow’s movement as ‘sick.’”

Howell is another name that might be worth looking at. His ERA imploded in 2016, compared to the previous season. going from a fabulous 1.43 to a barely mediocre 4.09. But unlike Javier Lopez, who struggled similarly last year, Howell’s underlying numbers remained solid: his FIP barely changed from 3.34 to 3.50, and his K:BB ratio actually improved. Buster Olney says the southpaw is only after a one-year deal, and that would seem to fit in with other recent Hazen signings, such as Chris Iannetta.

Right-handers

With Rodney looking likely to open the season as the D-backs’ closer, and with Barrett (and maybe Corbin?) probably going to be a set-up man, the need for a right-handed reliever seems more likely to be a mid-inning and/or seventh-inning guy. This would likely rule out some of the more high-profile options, likely led by Sergio Romo and Joe Blanton. But there are plenty of lower-tier names still seeking employment. Here’s MLB Trade Rumors current list of right-handed relievers.

  • Aaron Barrett
  • Matt Belisle
  • Joe Blanton
  • David Hernandez
  • Luke Hochevar
  • Tommy Hunter
  • Edwin Jackson
  • Kevin Jepsen
  • Seth Maness
  • Peter Moylan
  • Jonathan Papelbon
  • Yusmeiro Petit
  • Sergio Romo
  • Fernando Salas
  • Joe Smith
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Chien-Ming Wang
  • Jerome Williams

Belisle has been good the past couple of season, but seems to have struggled with injuries, albeit nothing recurring. I know I’m not the only one who might be interested to see David Hernandez back in a Diamondbacks uniform, and he struck out 80 over 72.2 innings for the Phillies last year, although the 32 walks were concerning. Maness is an interesting case and potential buy-low candidate: he had an alternative to Tommy John surgery in August, but is looking to be ready for spring. Given the 28-year-old has a career 120 ERA+, if he is back to full health and effectiveness, he could be a bargain. Though, as ever, the “if” is crucial.

If we’re looking for a Ziegler replacement, maybe we should look at Peter Moylan, an Australian submariner, whose career was resurrected by discovering that action. Over the last decade, only three pitchers (two of them being Z and Brandon Webb) have a better ground-ball percentage than Moylan. I like the idea of re-signing Yusmeiro Petit as well, simply to troll shoewizard. :) Salas is a name that has been tossed around a bit, and he certainly drove his stock up with a great stretch run for the Mets, but I suspect there will be too much competition for him, driving his price up.

There’s nobody likely to be in the D-backs’ price bracket who would classify as a lock-down reliever, but there are enough possibilities out there who could, at least potentially, act as an upgrade. It’ll be interesting to see which options Hazen decides to pursue.