We’ve already covered the players on the Arizona Diamondbacks who won’t be around next year - or those who will unexpectedly still be wearing Sedona Red. But, of course, the other 29 teams in the majors went through the same process, and as a result. 53 other players beyond Steven Souza, Caleb Joseph and Taijuan Walker are now available. They can all sign with any team as free-agents. Might any of them be worth kicking the tires on, from a Diamondbacks’ perspective?
Generally, I’d say the Arizona infield looks more than adequately stocked, especially after the retention of Jake Lamb. While there are only two catchers on the 40-man roster, the team letting go of the relatively cheap Joseph seems to indicate they’ve no interest in paying anything more than league minimum for a third catcher next season. Elsewhere, after the additions for protection from the Rule 5 draft, the team now has ten infielders on the 40-man roster. Even if some are almost certainly not going to be seen in the majors, there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of depth. So, let’s concentrate on the other areas: outfield, bullpen and rotation. Because you can never have too much starting pitching.
The candidates below all put up at or better than replacement value by fWAR this season. I’ve listed that, along with the estimated arbitration cost, from MLB Trade Rumors list.
The departure of Souza leaves the team very thin in the outfield with just three true men who play there on the 40-man roster: David Peralta, Tim Locastro and Ketel Marte. It seems all but certain that the team will be bringing at least one player, if not more, to provide much-needed backups - and potentially even an everyday right-fielder.
- Kevin Pillar: 1.5 fWAR, $9.7 million
- Charlie Culberson, 0.3 fWAR, $1.8 million
- Guillermo Heredia, 0.3 fWAR, $1.1 million
- Erick Mejia, 0.0 fWAR, N/A
- Domingo Santana, 0.0 fWAR, $4.4 million
Pillar is the only one who would appear to move the needle much based on their 2019 performance. He led San Francisco in home-runs, RBI and stolen-bases - though on the offensive dumpster fire which was the Giants, that’s not perhaps saying too much. [Pillar would have been ninth in HR on the Twins...] But in a weak outfield market, he’ll probably still get paid too much. The other represent potential bounce-back candidates, but I’d perhaps be most interested in Mejia, non-tendered by the Royals. He’s not even arb eligible until 2023, but Marcel has him projected for a .757 OPS. [Full disclosure: Steamer is much less bullish, at .636]
This has generally been a focus for Mike Hazen over the off-season, and there’s no indication 2019-20 will be any different. We’ve seen him go dumpster diving for closers, each of the last three winters, though it hasn’t worked out of late. There are some candidates available where we can try to win on the roulette wheel of reliever volatility, whether in that closer role or just more generally. And when you’re looking at the names below, remember that the current low bar for the Arizona bullpen is Matt Andriese.
- Javy Guerra, 0.4 fWAR, $1.3 million
- Junior Guerra, 0.3 fWAR, $3.5 million
- Jason Adam, 0.3 fWAR, N/A
- Ryan Burr, 0.1 fWAR, N/A
- Danny Hultzen, 0.1 fWAR, N/A
- Jeffrey Springs, 0.1 fWAR, N/A
- Wei-Chieh Huang, 0.0 fWAR, N/A
- Derek Law, 0.0 fWAR, $1.3 million
- Josh Osich, 0.0 fWAR, $1.0 million
- Blake Treinen, -0.3 fWAR, $7.8 million
I list the last, mostly as a reminder of reliever volatility. He was an All-Star who finished sixth in Cy Young voting for 2018, saving 38 games for Oakland with an ERA of 0.78. Now, he’s unemployed, after putting up a 4.91 ERA this year - and FIP suggests he was lucky to do so. But his status as a fallen closer does put him in the Rodney/Boxberger/Holland mode, if Hazen wants to go back to that well one more time. There are no shortage of candidates here. I note former D-back prospect Huang, traded to the Rangers for Jake Diekman, though his numbers above AA have been unimpressive. There’s no doubt one or more of the above will have a bounce-back or breakout campaign in 2020. But can Hazen spot who it is?
The release of Walker suggests the team might be fairly content with starting depth - or probably more accurate, can think of better ways to spend $5 million than on Taijuan. As James discussed earlier today, our rotation currently looks to be Ray, Leake, Kelly, Gallen and Weaver, with depth from Alex Young and Taylor Widener. However, that’s still not likely to be enough to get us through an entire season, and further arms will probably be needed. Anything of interest on this list?
- Kevin Gausman, 1.6 fWAR, $10.6 million
- Aaron Sanchez, 0.8 fWAR, $5.6 million
- Jimmy Nelson, -0.1 fWAR. $3.7 million
- Tyler Anderson, -0.3 fWAR, $2.625 million
None of the options here are cheap, and it’s probably true that there has to be serious problems seen by a team, before they will let a starting pitcher just walk. Anderson intrigues me a bit, simply because of the spectacular way he has fallen apart. After a 112 ERA+ through his first three seasons with the Rockies, he imploded to a 45 ERA+ this season, was dumped by Colorado, and just got dumped by San Francisco - not exactly a team flush with starting pitching. If he can get back to anything like the form he showed before this season, that arbitration estimate would seem a real bargain. But that’s a huge “if”.