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Should the Diamondbacks be buyers ?

Making the case to go for it

Wild Card Workout Photo by Sarah Sachs/Arizona Diamondbacks/Getty Images

It may strain credibility, but I was thinking of this article before last night’s game. You’ll just have to trust me on that.

What if?

The DBacks have some holes to fill if they want to have a chance to make a deep playoff run. They need a starting pitcher, an outfielder, AND another reliever, preferably a lefty. They need to fill at least one or two of those holes, if not all three, to be able to make a deep run. But it’s not impossible.

1.) Mike Hazen said he entered the season with the intention to compete. Well….here we are. If the reasoning during the off season not to sell and rebuild was so that you could give the core you still had remaining a chance to see what they could do, (after the Goldy trade and Corbin/Pollock departures), then how do you justify selling now? They are right there on the cusp of a wild card spot. Just a half game back of Milwaukee, who they will face for a four-game series starting tonight

2.) Their remaining schedule is very soft. Only 21 of their remaining 66 games are against teams that have a winning record. Many of those are against some pretty bad teams such as the Orioles, Marlins, Reds, as well as divisional rivals Padres and Rockies, who are sinking fast.

They also have 12 of their final 15 games at home. While Chase field has not been kind to the Dbacks this year, the final stretch run mostly played at home has to be considered an advantage. Especially since most of it is likely to be against team’s playing out the string, with exception of the Cardinals perhaps.

3.) Payroll was cut from 145M in 2018 to 124M in 2019. That payroll to revenue ratio amounts to just 45% of 2018 revenue levels. (275M). MLB avg is about 50% give or take, and it’s not unreasonable for the team to take it up to 55% for the remainder of the year in a year they have a chance to win.

I don’t know 2019 revenue of course, but Year over Year attendance is only down 458 per game, 19,000 fans in total. And due to dynamic pricing, I’ve heard their actual revenue is up despite a few hundred less fans per game. If they make some exciting deadline moves on the heels of a hot streak and are set up for a stretch run, the walk up in September would probably erase any small attendance deficit and push them into positive. Add to that their Television deal most likely includes inflation adjusted escalators year to year, and their revenue will probably grow. In short, they should be able to afford to take on pro-rated salary over the last 1/3 of the season

4.) This part will be more controversial. They might not be risking as much of the future as some might think if they trade from their stock of AAA and AA players. Most people will disagree with me on this. However it is my personal belief that few if any of the position player prospects we have in AA and AAA are likely to perform at above league average levels within the next two to three years. They might over time, but next year in cup of coffee roles, or the year after, 2021, in possibly full-time rookie seasons?

Pavin Smith has improved over the last month or two. But still only has a 124 wRC+ on a .271/.347/.422 slash line. His .150 ISO is too low for a first baseman, and his batting average is not high enough to make up for it. Is he going to be an ABOVE AVERAGE major league first baseman in 2020? 2021? This seems highly doubtful. His power may still develop. But it’s not happening yet and I for one don’t expect to see it over night. For what it’s worth, Steamer projects him to have a 79 wRC+ if he were playing in the majors now. So that gives you an idea of how far away he is.

Drew Ellis is batting .235/.348/.418 with 10 HR in 320 PA. That’s good for a 126 wRC+. His walk rate is a healthy 14.3%, but his hit skill and power just don’t seem to be there yet. His MLB projection is for 69 wRC+

Perhaps making the above not so outrageous or controversial is the fact that both Smith and Ellis have dropped out of Baseball America’s top 30 list for Dbacks prospects. The flip side of that is they probably dont have much trade value

Jazz Chisholm has managed to lower his K rate from 40% to 33%, which is still enormous for AA. He sports just a .203/.306/.434 slash and a 115 wRC+. His MLB projection is for 64 wRC+. His BA rank is down 3rd in the organization. He is at least 2 to 3 years away from being able to handle major league pitching. If ever.

Kevin Cron has TONS of power, but his OBP is likely to always be quite low, due to his chase mentality and high K rates. His current K rate is over 40%. It projects to be 29% going forward. One can only hope. And his defense is never going to be a positive. He’s already 26 yrs and 5 months old, and is not going to get quicker and more agile over the next couple of years.

I just don’t see any of these players being ABOVE AVERAGE major league players in the next two to three years. Maybe one of them will surprise and develop into an above average player by 2022. There are always surprises. But I think you would have a very hard task to make a reasonable case any is a strong bet to be above average.

The only position player in AA/AAA that I would deem untouchable is Daulton Varsho.

So bottom line for me is they don’t have strong prospects coming along in the next year or two that are likely to propel them back into contention by 2020-2021-2022 anyway. We will have to wait for the Alek Thomas/Kristian Robinson level guys to make it, and that’s 2023 and beyond. They are simply too young to be counted on before then.

So thats the case to go for it now. The next question , if you buy into this idea, is ;


A starting point might be This Top 50 list trade candidates from MLB Trade Rumors. Things are complicated by the Giants emergence as a possible contender, and the fact that you don’t want to be trading prospects within division if you can help it. But it’s a starting point. Those interested in a “buy” scenario should let us know in the comments what they would propose. (Be realistic !)


Should the DBacks be buyers ?

This poll is closed

  • 46%
    Yes, go for it !
    (109 votes)
  • 24%
    No, stand pat and let them sink or swim as constructed now.
    (57 votes)
  • 28%
    No, they should sell, don’ be fooled by current standings
    (66 votes)
232 votes total Vote Now