A couple of weeks ago, we presented you with the list of potential non-tender candidates for the Diamondbacks. Those are the players who will be going through arbitration this winter: the team has the right simply to decline to offer them a contract (hence, “non-tender”) and let them become free-agents. The usual reason is because the team thinks the expected cost of retaining the player would not be justified, and better spent elsewhere. There are also roster considerations, though the later in arbitration a player is, the more likely they are to be non-tendered, as their cost is higher and the team is giving up fewer years of control.
For your convenience, the 14 arbitration-eligible Arizona players this off-season are listed below, along with the projected costs from MLB Trade Rumors.
- Nick Ahmed (29), Arb-2 = $3.1M
- Matt Andriese (29), Arb-1 = $1.1M
- Brad Boxberger (31), Arb-3 = $4.9M
- Archie Bradley (26), Arb-1 = $2M
- Andrew Chafin (29), Arb-2 = $1.8M
- Jake Lamb (28), Arb-2 = $4.7M
- T.J. McFarland (30), Arb-2 = $1.4M
- Shelby Miller (28), Arb-3 = $4.9M
- John Ryan Murphy (28), Arb-1 = $1.1M
- Chris Owings (27), Arb-3 = $3.6M
- David Peralta (31), Arb-2 = $7.7M
- Robbie Ray (27), Arb-2 = $6.1M
- Steven Souza Jr. (30), Arb-2 = $4M
- Taijuan Walker (26), Arb-2 = $4.83M
As part of that article, we asked you a yes/no question for each player. Should they be tendered a contract at that projected cost? We had almost five hundred responses, and as we head towards the non-tender deadline at the end of the week, we’ll be revealing the results. There will be three categories. Firstly, the dead-certs, who received a “Yes” vote from more than 95% of respondents. Then the “probables”, who were approved of by between 60% and 95% of ballots. And finally, those whose employment prospects with Arizona would seem to be in non-festive doubt.
David Peralta (31), Arb-2 = $7.7M: 97.3%
Though the most expensive of the arbitration candidates, the Freight Train had a breakouit season in 2018. That came about as a result of his power-game, Peralta more than doubling the number of home-runs hit, from fourteen to thirty. winning an NL Silver Slugger as a result. Impressively, this came at no apparent cost to the other aspects, with David posting exactly the same batting average and on-base percentage in 2018 as in 2017. While his defense generally remained not much more than adequate, his other skills were still enough to make Peralta worth 3.9 bWAR this season, a career high. Anything near that for next year will make him well worth the projected price-tag.
Robbie Ray (27), Arb-2 = $6.1M: 97.3%
I was a little surprised to see Ray tie with Peralta for the most-enthusiastic “Yes” results, as Robbie definitely took a step back in 2018, after an All-Star caliber performance the year before. The strikeouts were still there, but Ray walked a career-high 5.1 batters per nine innings, and threw the least innings since his rookie campaign in 2014, due to a strained oblique. However, the D-backs desperately need rotation help, with the options perilously thin after Zack Greinke. Six million bucks probably would not get you even a league-average starting pitcher, and v.2018 Robbie was still better than that, with an ERA+ of 110. Add in the hope of a rebound to v.2017 Ray, and the result here makes sense.
Nick Ahmed (29), Arb-2 = $3.1M: 96.5%
Slick Nick is a player whose value is probably hurt by the traditional metrics favored in the arbitration process. Even though he also had a power surge, hitting 16 HR, that still only brought his OPS to .700, and the value remains mostly from Ahmed’s glove, a secondary factor when it comes to establishing arbitration cost. [Even though this year was far and away his best, Ahmed in his career has been below replacement offensively, at -0.3 oWAR, while worth 8.3 dWAR] That means his price-tag remans low for his expected production, perhaps an argument for keeping him on the roster rather than trading Ahmed away, as has been suggested.
Archie Bradley (26), Arb-1 = $2M: 95.4%
The question of the 2019 closer is one that needs answering, with incumbent, Brad Boxberger losing the position in the final month. At this point last winter. Bradley would have been the heir apparent. However, Archie had a nightmare of a second half, with a 6.58 ERA, and may now sit behind Yoshihisa Hirano on our depth chart. Bradley needs to prove his post-All Star Game form was simply reliever volatility in action, and he’s still the man who put up a 1.97 ERA before the break. Even if the reality lies in the middle, Bradley’s 119 ERA+ is still solid, and as this is his first year through arbitration, he’s still cheap enough. Keeping future costs down may also be a reason to keep Archie from closing next year.