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SnakePit Round Table: Outfielders, assemble!

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In which the Diamondbacks sign JD. Just not THAT one.

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks-Media Day Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrod Dyson signed a two-year deal. Were you happy with the signing?

Keegan: I felt that it was a more than acceptable pivot after it had been announced that J.D. Martinez was going to be a member of the Boston Red Sox (after they sort out his physical that is). If used appropriately, I think we will all be pleasantly surprised with how much he can contribute to this team. There is a chance he could lead the Diamondbacks in stolen bases. Torey Lovullo should not play him against left handers as he owns a career 63 OPS+/55 wRC+ against them. His speed and defensive ability allow him to be utilized in any outfield position making him a key depth addition. Dyson is a tremendous platoon option if he is utilized appropriately, and for a relatively cheap salary.

Jay: He brings speed and an actual centerfielder to back-up A.J. Pollock. We have to remember that A.J. has only played 181 games in the last 3 years. Losing him to free agency is a strong possibility, allowing Dyson’s second year under contract to bridge the gap. A great defensive centerfielder is essential at Chase Field. For now, the depth and speed he brings should be worth his relatively low salary.

Makakilo: I was 85% happy because we have a backup to Pollock in center field. Depth in center field defense will enhance great pitching.The cost was reasonable! The remaining 15% was due to two reasons:

  • As Keegan pointed out he is best as a platoon player instead of an everyday player.
  • I hoped for a center fielder with excellent defense and a higher percentage of hard hit balls(showing potential for excellent hitting).

Steven: Absolutely. He’s an excellent defender and should free A.J to take more days off without suffering a large gap like we saw last year with Blanco and Fuentes. Hazen has been very consistent from the get-go saying he wants to build depth, signings like Dyson and Descalso give Lovullo quality options on his bench to use game in and game out.

Jim: It’s a good signing as a fourth outfielder. Does suggest the team was not willing to roll the dice with either Rey Fuentes or Socrates Brito this year, though they may still have a part to play in terms of injury. I don’t think he can really be viewed as a replacement for A.J. Pollock, because as noted, he shouldn’t be playing everyday. But he can be used to spell Pollock occasionally, and perhaps even the other two outfielders, and should certainly help improve the team’s defense. In the NL last year, the D-backs’ UZR/150 ranked 13th of 15, so it’s an area where we can certainly get better.

Turambar: Loved the signing. Spells AJ on occasion and adds depth and defense to the outfield. It’s additions like Dyson that round out a good team, in that he’s not gonna carry the Dbacks to glory but will certainly have his fair share of important moments.

Then, the team traded Brandon Drury and Anthony Banda for Steven Souza. Did they pay too much for three years of control?

Keegan: Well it is entirely too early to say if they paid too much. We’re not even sure who the two players to be named later are yet. I really hope to see Brandon Drury flourish in New York for his own sake. He seemingly fell out of favor with Lovullo last season. Other than playing in the media monster that is New York, he won’t have much pressure on him playing in the shadow of Stanton and Judge. It’s his time to prove that he can hit outside of Chase Field (132 OPS+/124 wRC+ at Chase, 70 OPS+/68 wRC+ everywhere else). We only had a sampling of Anthony Banda at the Major League level last season, so the jury is out on him until there is more service time under his belt. If forced to give an answer right now, I’d be inclined to say it was a hefty price. However, I am optimistic with what we got in return in the form of Steven Souza. He is above average at the plate, an above average base stealer, and an average or slightly above defender. The additions of Souza and Dyson are a significant net gain over Tomás which is important for a team with hopes to return to the playoffs.

Jay: I love this deal. To say this trade will be a bad one can only come in hindsight in my mind. In a perfect world, we resign J.D. Martinez, but in this one, Steven Souza should be a suitable replacement. The D-backs have enough infield depth to handle the loss and Anthony Banda’s upside appears to be limited.

Makakilo: No. The outfield roster was a serious problem this season and also the following three seasons. The Diamondbacks needed to fix the roster until their potential all-stars (Marcus Wilson-age 21 and Gabriel Maciel-age 19) are ready to play in the Majors. With the addition of Dyson and Souza, it is likely that the gaps will be filled. Assuming the Diamondbacks cannot afford Pollock in free agency, my view of the possible rosters for the next seasons follows:

  • 2018 Pollock CF, Peralta LF, Souza RF, Dyson 4thOF
  • 2019 Souza CF, Peralta LF, Hazelbaker RF, Dyson 4thOF
  • 2020 Souza CF, Peralta LF, Wilson RF, Walker/Maciel 4thOF
  • 2021 Wilson CF, Walker LF, Brito RF, Maciel 4thOF

Steven: I know the Yankees did a lot of damage control to say Drury had lots of power potential and flexibility still left in his development but I’m very hesitant to even say that. He’s been barely league average at the plate, and even worse in the field at all the positions he’s played. I think he’s at best a below average streaky regular who will start getting paid in arbitration thanks to some early power numbers.

Same goes for Banda, who didn’t look anything like a starting pitcher last year and would need some things to go right to even stick (develop a curve and refine change), otherwise he’ll just be a solid 7th/8th inning reliever.

If all things go right, you traded a starting 2nd baseman, 4th starting pitcher for 3 years of a solid outfielder to upgrade a position that could’ve seen 500 at-bats from Yasmany Tomas. I’m more than okay with that.

Jim: The team did give up a lot of control - four years of Drury and six years of Banda - for three years of Souza. But I think that reflects the team looking at their window of opportunity and seeing it as being 2018-2019, then a great deal of uncertainty. It does make sense to focus resources like our excess of middle infielders, in an effort to make the team better now, and there’s little doubt Souza’s arrival does that. Maybe a slight overpay, but worth it - if that makes sense!

Turambar: The move almost guaranteed Tomas is done as a starter, so it’s certainly a win in my book.

Obviously, as my compatriots noted above, we won’t know who won this trade for quite a while. For now though Souza is a solid bat/outfielder under team control for 3yrs and along with the addition of Dyson our outfield depth is suddenly no longer an issue.

With Drury gone, how do you see the infield shaking out now?

Keegan: Comments so far seem to suggest that Hazen and Lovullo would like to see Nick Ahmed press the issue to earn the bulk of playing time at shortstop, while Chris Owings is going to have a super utility role similar to Daniel Descalso. That leaves Ketel Marte as the primary option at second base. I doubt that Ahmed is going to show anything different than what he already has in his career, but if he can stay healthy and get on base at an acceptable rate it would allow Lovullo the flexibility to play Chris Owings at multiple positions.

Jay: I see Marte at shortstop and Owings at second. But on a Lovullo team, many players will get their share of innings and at-bats. Depth is thinner now and we don’t have another Marte type in AAA to show up to save the day. But the depth is good enough with Ahmed and *gasp* Descalso.

Makakilo: My view aligns with Jay’s view. I see Jake Lamb at third with Christian Walker as depth in AAA. I see Ketel Marte at Shortstop because he is an excellent athlete with a balance of offense/defense and because Ahmed’s hip injury has slowed him so his defense is less than it was. I see Owings at second with Descalso as utility player and depth in several positions.

Steven: Shoewizard and I talked about this a little on twitter, I thought they’d give Marte and Owings the shortstop and 2nd base jobs respectively after seeing Ahmed decline defensively after the hip surgery. But with the news today Owings is their super-utility guy it looks like Ahmed at short and Marte at 2nd. I would’ve like to see Marte full-time at short after his excellent postseason but we’ll have to keep an eye on Ahmed and his recovery at short.

Jim: If this was my team, I would tend to agree with Jay and Makakilo: Marte at short, Owings at second. But as Keegan noted, it does appear that the team wants to have Ahmed in the mix too. It seems weird to use Owings in a Descalso role when… we have Descalso, who would seem ideally suited for a Descalso role! Indeed, with Chris Herrmann also on the bench, we’ll be well stocked with super-utility guys.

Turambar: Honestly I’m gonna be happy with Marte at 2nd or SS, just so long as he’s in that lineup everyday. Loved what I saw from him last season and this year could see him become a major contributor in the Dbacks success.

What does the signing mean for Yasmany Tomas?

Keegan: It’s difficult to see him breaking camp with the team. There isn’t room for him on the bench, no pun intended, if the team’s intention is to carry three catchers. If you want me to be more positive about his situation, he should be the primary pinch hitter against a lefty off the bench. All for the cool price of $10 million in base salary, plus a $3.5 million signing bonus, this season!

Jay: It means, barring an unforeseen power surge, his signing was a bust and the D-backs will have to take their medicine on salary.

Makakilo: Very likely, Tomas does not have an everyday position on the 25 man roster. Even if the team needed a power hitter off the bench more than another possible bench role, spring training would have to convince me that Tomas would do well in that role. In case of injury to an outfielder, Hazelbaker or Walker or Brito would be my choices for temporary replacement. A possible path forward would be to option him to the minors, recall him for road trips when Tomas can be the DH, and trade him to an AL team when his value is high as a result of a hot streak. If there is no possibility of trading him, then maybe he would clear waivers to open a spot on the 40 man roster.

Steven: Eat as much money as it takes to get him off this team. His contract is a sunk-cost at this point, so cut the distraction and let him go.

Jim: He’ll get the playing time he deserves. It’s entirely up to Tomas what that will end up being. Personally, I’m not optimistic: it’s less about hitting than his defense, which negates any value with his bat. Someone suggested to me over the weekend we might consider platooning him at third with Jake Lamb. It’s an interesting idea, but remembering how bad Tomas was at the hot corner in his previous stab (and I use the word “stab” advisedly), it’s utterly untenable.

Turambar: He’s toast. That’s it. Dunzo. I can’t imagine him breaking camp with the team and certainly hope we cut ties and move on. Obviously he’s owed a pretty penny still but we really shouldn’t force ourselves to keep him in the roster when his contribution will be minimal at best.

Time to move on.

Are you concerned about the team’s lack of starting pitching depth?

Keegan: Absolutely. Randall Delgado and Zack Godley were our two depth options last season and performed admirably. In 2018, Godley is going to be depended on as a regular member of the rotation and Delgado’s arm health is still in question. We’re in trouble if T.J. McFarland or Braden Shipley are called upon for a handful of starts. Maybe Mike Hazen picks up a yet unsigned starter on a minor league option as a contingency plan?

Jay: It is my biggest concern. The top five played great last year and I expect them to continue playing well. I also expect someone to be hurt at any given point for the majority of the season. Hopefully, not two at a time. Shipley and Koch? I guess you’ve got to play someone. Delgado’s injury seems to be serious and Shelby Miller should not be expected to much at all once he comes back. If the Diamondbacks are buyer’s in August, a starting pitcher may very well be on their wish list.

Makakilo: Yes. For that reason, I am concerned about the loss of Banda. It is nearly certain that starting pitching depth will be needed at some point in the season. Shelby Miller is not a sure thing to return at 100%. I am convinced Archie Bradley is more valuable in the bullpen. I am less than happy with the depth I can see. Perhaps the depth is better than I perceive. And during the season, Hazen may capture an opportunity to add depth by acquiring a starter in the minors. In summary, I am concerned but hopeful.

Jim: It’s the most obvious way in which I could see the season going south. Even if Miller comes back and is immediately able to pitch effectively (far from a sure thing), it’ll still be 2-3 months where our starting depth will be… Braden Shipley and, I dunno, Kris Medlen? I’m a bit surprised Mike Hazen hasn’t tried to do the same thing with starting pitchers as he is trying in the bullpen: get a load of low-risk candidates. But, admittedly, there likely won’t be any spots for any of them on Opening Day. Fingers crossed nothing befalls the front five starters early on.

Steven: After last season, it’s my biggest concern going into the season. After Godley exploded onto the scene, practically carrying the team in May and June before “cooling off” July-onward, who is going to fill that role when we inevitably have that same situation? Kris Medlen? Jon Duplantier? ( ) It’s a big question Mike Hazen hasn’t answered.

Turambar: Very concerned. Really my main critique of of the Souza move was having to move Banda. Not that he was amazing when he started last year, but he was certainly a solid option when needed and we’ll miss him at some point this season. Who knows who might step up or be acquired, but we’ll likely need someone at some point.