A Diamondbacks team which was expected to be in the mix for a wild-card spot, failed to deliver the goods this year. A nightmare three weeks, in which the team lost 18 of 20 games, condemned them to last place in the National League West, with a final record of 25-35. The team were sellers at the trade deadline, moving Starling Marte, Archie Bradley, Robbie Ray and Andrew Chafin. But GM Mike Hazen said at the end of the year, that he doesn’t believe there is the need for wholesale changes. He said, “I don’t believe it’s major, from an overhaul standpoint of the lineup. We have good baseball players. We have good hitters in our lineup.”
One positive is the team subsequently saw few significant losses to free agency, with Jon Jay the only other player lost (as noted previously, various options were declined, with a decision on Merrill Kelly still pending at this point). However, there will still be plenty of challenges, not least likely having to handle a sharply-reduced payroll for next season. Even if Madison Bumgarner is the only player on the books for more than $8 million, no-one can be sure what the landscape will look like. As we enter November, COVID-19 cases nationwide are rising again, so there’s no certainty fans will be allowed back into Chase Field for Opening Day - at least, not to capacity.
So, what do you see as THE area most in needed of Hazen’s attention this winter? There’s a case to be made for all four parts of the team. We’ll be taking a more detailed look at each in turn, but to determine the order of those articles, here’s a quick overview, and a poll for your consideration...
Collectively, Arizona’s infield managed an OPS of just .677 this year. That figure ranked only ahead of the Cubs in the National League. Outside of Christian Walker, it was largely a case of existing players not performing up to expectations. Ketel Marte’s power all but vanished, going from about one HR every 18 AB, to one every 90. Eduardo Escobar and Carson Kelly both started very slowly, a particular problem in a truncated season like this one. And the great hope at 1B/DH, Kevin Cron, had his weakness against breaking stuff cruelly exposed. Nick Ahmed’s defense wasn’t at the elite tier previously seen, leaving Christian Walker as perhaps the only man whose performance was up to the expected level.
Offensive production here was at least up to snuff, OPS of .786 coming in at slightly above league average (.767). However, a good chunk of that was based on the presence of Marte in center. His departure leaves the team with the most obvious hole to be filled for Opening Day. Will they go internal, perhaps elevating speed demon Tim Locastro to an everyday role? Are any of the team’s slew of prospects potentially going to appear? Or will they look to pick up someone on the free-agent market, where prices seem almost certain to be lower than normal? At least the corners look to be stable, with David Peralta and Kole Calhoun both hitt7ing reasonably, and picking up Gold Glove nominations.
Zac Gallen seems to be about the only sure thing as far as 2021’s rotation is concerned. Bumgarner is also likely, but his very high cost means I wouldn’t be surprised if the team looks to move him, though his generally underwhelming 2020 production and backloaded contract will make that difficult. Still, Hazen found a buyer for Zack Greinke... The rest of the starting pitching are question-marks. Even if his option is picked up, will Kelly be healthy? Can Luke Weaver rebound to his 2019 form? There are then a slew of potential candidates for the back spots and the essential depth slots, with no obvious standouts. Maybe prospect Corbin Martin can make a splash?
The team lost a couple of long-term mainstays in Bradley and Chafin, whose workload will need to be replaced, along with that of Rondon. Stefan Crichton, Kevin Ginkel and Yoan Lopez should return, and the team will likely bring back Junior Guerra, despite declining his option. The question here is as much about roles as anything. After Bradley’s departure, Crichton became the de facto closer. But does Hazen want a pitcher with less than 70 MLB innings, taking on that role full-time? We’ve seen his fondness for veteran arms in just about every season he has been with Arizona, even if it hasn’t always worked out. There’s also the possibility of converting one or more starters into relievers.
What is the biggest area that Arizona needs to address this winter?
This poll is closed
The starting pitching