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Payroll and Team Direction

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It’s time for the youth movement

close-up adult hand taking dollar bill from child’s hand Photo by: Digital Light Source/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

PAYROLL

At the beginning of the month we took a look at where the team was with the payroll prior to making options decisions here . Jim has already kickstarted the off season discussion today with this article. Consider this then a supplement or appendage, as well as my two cents on overall direction.

As has been covered, Hector Rondon, Mike Leake, and Junior Guerra had their options declined. Rondon and Leake are free agents. Guerra is still under team control and they have until December 2nd to decide whether to tender him a contract or not.

It is almost certain Merrill Kelly will have his option picked up. The deadline is Sunday. As Nick Piecoro mentionedThe Diamondbacks tend to wait until the very end on contract decisions they make in the affirmative.” .

Below is a simplified table broken out Guaranteed contracts, Arbitration Eligible players with estimates, and Pre Arb Slots

  • Guaranteed Contract information takes into account performance/playing time milestones reached where applicable, so may differ slightly with what you see elsewhere.
  • I decided to show what team will actually pay to Bumgarner this year and next. The deferred money is deferred without interest.
  • Arbitration amounts are the midway point between Estimate 1 and Estimate 2 presented at MLB Traderumors
  • Remaining slots are filled with Pre Arb Players that are typically between 560K-600K. I averaged at 580K. I just filled the balance slots with pre arb players for now. As the team signs free agents or makes trades I’ll update. There are also 4 slots at pre arb wages for injury replacement players.

As things stand today, right now, the team’s minimum commitment for 2021 is approximately $88M. It’s notable that 2022 comes in at about $85M minimum commitment as well.

Sources

Cot’s Baseball Contracts , Roster Resource & Baseball-Reference . Also Diamondbacks Communications Department helped clarify a few questions along the way.

MY THOUGHTS ON GENERAL DIRECTION

These are just a general thoughts, without too much in the way of specifics attached. I believe the D-backs must focus on the youth movement for 2021. It simply is not within their capability to spend enough money to upgrade the roster into a strong playoff contender.

At the same time, they have a lot to gain by continuing to play and develop their young players, both those that got their first taste of the majors last season, and several more that were at the Alt Site that could be ready by mid season hopefully.

The team is unlikely to spend a lot of money in any scenario. So what I definitely DON’T want to see them do is sign bottom tier free agents that are not going to take the team to the promised land. More importantly they must not allow such players to take playing /development time away from younger players. They don’t need the next Jon Jay or Wilmer Flores or Hector Rondon, or Brad Boxberger. They need to figure out what they have with the players in the system and position themselves for 2022 and beyond. Don’t underestimate the cost of the lost opportunity by failing to give your young players enough playing time to develop.

This isn’t a call to “tank”. They can keep the guys they have signed to guaranteed contracts and hope for bouncebacks. They don’t need to sell any of them off before the trade deadline. Just give most of the other 14 roster spots and playing time to guys already in the system.

They’re going to be hard pressed to field a team that can compete for the NL pennant no matter what they do this off season. They’re not getting past the Dodgers for the division. But there is always the non zero chance a team with this core and the help of some young guys over performing can get in via a wild card with the expanded playoffs. So they can still have some fun while they’re at it if they play well.

The upside here is if they give a lot of at bats and innings to the 1st and 2nd year players in 2021, they’re going to end up with at least a couple of players that will develop into solid contributors to the next good Diamondbacks team. The sooner they give them the time needed to make adjustments at the major league level, the sooner they’ll be able to figure out who are the “keepers” and the sooner we’ll have a good team again.