Seeing there’s no game today, to generate some discussion I thought we could start talking about the players the D-backs will be losing to free agency this winter. We’re certain to be talking a LOT more about this once the season is over - the high-profile names merit their own individual posts - but there’s no need to wait until then to begin the discussion. Arizona will be losing some high-profile names, including two of the top ten players according to MLBTR, in what is one of the most stacked free-agent classes in recent years, headlined by Bryce Harper and, potentially, Clayton Kershaw. But it’s not just Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock who have reached the end of their current contracts with Arizona.
Here are the 11 players who will become free-agents. There could be a 12th, since this man has a team option for 2019 - but I don’t think Paul Goldschmidt will be hitting the market. He could, of course, still be leaving Arizona this winter, but that’s an entirely separate topic, worthy of discussion in its own piece... So here are the eleven:
- Patrick Corbin
- Randall Delgado
- Daniel Descalso
- Jake Diekman
- Eduardo Escobar
- Neftali Feliz
- Jon Jay
- Jeff Mathis
- A.J. Pollock
- Chris Stewart
- Brad Ziegler
All except for Feliz are currently on the roster, although the playing time they have seen varies drastically, from the 130 games for Descalso, all the way down to the single plate appearance and 2.2 innings in the field by Stewart [yeah, adding that fourth catcher to the roster really proved a game-changer, didn’t it?] There is really one of two possible questions for each player, so you first have to decide which applies, then how to answer it. There are varying levels of difficulty in both areas, and that’s where the challenge comes in.
- Players you want to keep: how much will they cost, and where will you find the money? Of relevance: Jack’s dive into the 2019 payroll situation. Summary: $133 million in contracts, arbitration and pre-arb for next year, compared to a year-end payroll this season of about $140 million.
- Players you want to let go: how will you replace their production? More playing time for existing roster members? Prospects coming through from the minors? Or signing another free-agent? If you go the last route, then the same issues as above need to be addressed: the cost, and how to fund it.
Informing your decision would probably be your opinion on how the team should approach 2019 as a whole. Do they treat next year as a last hurrah before Paul Goldschmidt hits free-agency at the end of the season? Should they try and re-sign him? Is now the point to tear it all down for prospects, and look to build towards another window of contention, a few years down the road? Or is there a middle road between those two extremes which should be taken? You should perhaps also prioritize your choices, on the basis of which you feel are more important to retain at the going “market price”.
It’s going to be a really interesting winter for the franchise and the front-office, potentially determining the course of the team for the next several years. Challenging likely doesn’t begin to describe it, and I’m keen to hear people’s thoughts on what they want to see done.