When history looks back at the Arizona Diamondbacks and their 2018 campaign, it will be seen as a disappointment. Just as in 2008 and 2012, the team was unable to build on the success of the previous season, and reach the playoffs in consecutive years, with their record dropping back towards .500. We’ll be looking back at the season in more depth in the coming weeks, but probably more important is the direction of the team going forward. Some difficult decisions have to be made by GM Mike Hazen and his colleagues in the front-office. Not just individual players, but choices that will likely determine the course of the team for the next several years.
There are three basic options available to them: rebuild, retool or go all-in. As an exercise for the first week of the D-backs’ winter, we divided volunteers from the SnakePit staff into three groups. Each group was then assigned one of the options and told to go away and build a case for it. There were several factors to be considered. Why is it the best option? How should it be executed? What needs to happen for it to work? Are there potential risks of failure? Over the next three days, we’ll be presenting each of their in-depth reports, for discussion and your consideration.
But as an introduction, here is a quick summary of the scenarios, and my own personal hot take on them. Some elements of what follow may be gone into, in more depth, during the detailed presentations. Other aspects may be completely contradicted. Don’t sweat it.
This is a team which finished well out of even a wild-card spot, and is losing a number of major contributors to free-agency this winter. The team needs not only to replace all of that production, but find a significant amount of additional wins on top of it. With limited resources and close to $50 million tied up in Yasmany Tomas and Zack Greinke, it’s almost impossible to see realistically how that can be done. The team would be better off cashing in valuable trade chips like Paul Goldschmidt, David Peralta, etc. and using them to acquire prospects who can be of use during the next window of contention down the road. We’ve seen the Astros go from cellar-dwellers to World Series champions. Let’s follow their path.
The 2019 Diamondbacks were actually considerably better than their record suggests. Their run differential was better than the Rockies, and they’re playing on into October. The failure this season was significantly due to Arizona’s record in one-run games, and history shows us that is generally not repeatable. Next year, healthy versions of Jake Lamb, Steven Souza, Shelby Miller and, later on, Taijuan Walker could all be potential difference makers. Mike Hazen’s winter priorities should be to tweak the bullpen, get some better offense at catcher, and fix Zack Godley’s mechanics. If we can do that, then there’s no reason this team can’t contend into September again next year.
Two words sum up the argument here: Paul Goldschmidt. 2019 is the final year for which the D-backs have Goldy under control, and he’s the kind of player a team gets once in a generation, if they’re lucky. The 2020 team without him will be significantly worse, and there’s no way to know when we will have an MVP caliber player again. The team’s reluctance to go all-in this year is partly why they’re on the outside of the playoffs. But the front-office get one more chance next year, to make the most of the best position player ever to pull on a Diamondbacks’ jersey. They must convince Ken Kendrick to open the purse strings, no matter what the impact down the road.
Below is a poll to see which of the three options are currently favored by Diamondbacks’ fans. After all the presentations have been seen and digested, on Friday we’ll have another poll, to see whether there has been any alteration in the collective mind. [Yeah, I know: as if we can get people to change their mind on the Internet... :)]
In 2019, the Diamondbacks should...
This poll is closed