After ILIKEPOTATOES article, I figured let me throw in my 2 cents:
Treat this as fan fiction if you like, lol....
I stumbled upon this DeLorean in a junkyard, started goofing around in the cockpit, and all of a sudden got teleported back in time. Deciding to make the most of the opportunity, I left clues for my younger self to buy and sell stocks in the market, and low and behold I am now a billionaire (move over Cohen).
I decide to buy the Dbacks. KK refuses to sell, but since I bought every Honus Wagner card decades ago, I offer him one as the icing on the cake, which closes the deal.
I don’t like bad investments, and I love baseball. The hardest part will be to be open with fans about accounting. I have already received threats from other owners forbidding me to do this, but I have decided transparency with fans will buy some good will moving forward. As part of the purchase agreement I cannot share prior information. Thus I will use the Braves and Jays as examples because they have open books as they are owned by public corporations.
In 2021, the Braves had an operating revenue of $558 million ( https://www.msn.com/en-us/sports/mlb/the-atlanta-braves-made-a-lot-of-money-in-2021/ar-AAUiGRL) and made over $100 million profit.
Forbes on the other hand severely underestimated revenue (Atlanta Braves on the Forbes MLB Team Valuations List) but still has them at $80 million profit.
To summarize, the Braves have a $175 million payroll and made a $100 million profit.
Where does that put the Dbacks? Well, other than in the Pandemic year, the Dbacks have been making a profit every year, and in 2022 (based on 2021 data), they were at +$40 million (Arizona Diamondbacks on the Forbes MLB Team Valuations List), which like with the Braves is an underestimate of real net revenue. The reality is that the Dbacks get close to $220 million in revenue share (2019 data) before their 52% of local gate receipts. Thus the $267 million revenue is likely the ‘minimal amount’ going forward because the gate receipts are based on 2021.
$110 million payroll+$40 million profit = $150 million available for payroll for 2022. Given that the profit is really from 2021 data where post pandemic gate receipts were low, and 2022 was a better year, I am willing to raise the payroll to $160 million (which happens to be league average and median). Even with that payroll I am still going to make a profit because I believe the fans will come and support the team if the product is good. My estimate is that revenue for 2022 (reported in 2023) will be closer to $287-290 million for the Dbacks.
I have been talking to Hazen and these are my concerns:
I think that 3B, 1B, C, DH, 2 SP, and 4 RP are short and long term issues with the current team.
1. Walker had a great year, but can he repeat? He improved at the end, but he was still pretty bad in high leverage situations especially against RHP. He stays for Arb-2, but I think we may need his replacement as early as 2024. Smith has not been good enough. Beer is flat.
2. Ahmed I think is done, and Perdomo has great bat control, but not a great hitter. Lawler may be that guy, but I think he is at least 1-2 years out. I guess Ahmed/Perdomo platoon it is for 2023.
3. Dbacks have been horrible at developing a 3rd baseman. Not sure I see anyone in the minors either.
4. Carson Kelly does not add much to the team. He may not even be better than Avila or Mathis.
5. Running out 3-4 rookies next year as starters (Henry, Jameson, Nelson, Pfaadt) is a risky proposal.
6. The current approach (last 6 years) to finding a closer is not working. Need to do something drastic.
7. DH can be a position to create some significant 'thump' in the middle of the lineup. There is no point having a position player that cannot hit 'hone' his skills in the MLB when we are trying to win.
Thus, this is what I would want Hazen to do:
1. I would target Carlos Rodon. Likely he will get a 5-6 year deal in the range of $110-$140 (Corbin, Darvish, Gausman, Ray, Wheeler). $22-25 million AAV
2. Just sign Edwin Diaz. Start with 3/60, but I would be willing to spend 5/100
3. Sign Ottovino. $4-7 million for 1 year
4. If Gallen is going to leave for free agency, then I would consider trading him as his value will likely never be higher. Cardinals might consider a Walker for Gallen trade especially if Arenado stays (which is likely). Plus, they did draft Gallen (would only do this if we sign Rodon, and get a Marlin pitcher see below). I would wait till mid season. If the Dbacks are a wild card team I do not make this move.
5. We have outfielders, Marlins have pitchers. There is another Chisolm for Gallen deal to be made. Thomas and McCarthy I think are the ones that can be expendable. Thomas ‘should’ be enough to get either Lopez (2 years control) or Luzardo (3 years) over Rodgers (4 years control).
6. If we cannot get/develop a catcher (most likely), then move Varsho to the C position, and C Kelly as the backup. With robot umps inevitable, pitch framing is not needed. Plus, Varsho wants to play behind the plate, and it frees an outfield spot.
7. Consider Mitch Haniger (age 31), as the RH outfield bat. He might not be that expensive given his injury history and will be the bridge before Jones (and maybe Robinson). I don’t have faith in Luplow or Garrett as the RHB outfielders and he is still a very good defender.
8. I believe the JD Martinez is not done. He has been a top 5 hitter in the league for years, and even in a down year like 2022, he had a OPS+ 117, with OPS 0.790. Apparently, he was fixing his swing, and in the last few weeks of the season, started blasting dingers, and hitting the ball hard again. He is the thump in the middle of the lineup we need. Should not be that expensive or long contract given his age.
Potential 2023 starting day lineup:
1. McCarthy CF LHB
2. Haniger RF RHB
3. Marte 2B SH
4. JD Martinez DH RHB
5. Varsho C LHB
6. Walker 1B RHB
7. Carroll LF LHB
8. Rojas/Rivera 3B – platoon
9. Ahmed/Perdomo – SS – platoon
2. Gallen (unless we trade him)
4. Lopez or Luzardo (Thomas trade)
1. Diaz (closer)
2. Ottavino (setup)
4. Nelson (LHP)
5. C Smith
Big issue will be what to do with Madbum. We were ‘lucky’ last year, with Gallen/Kelly/Madbum not being injured. I would still pencil him as the #5 starter, but the leash is short. He is a sunk cost and I am not going to trade prospects to dump his salary. I will be willing to DFA him, but I still am hopeful that he might have 1 last ‘rodeo’ in him. Thus, my suggestion to Hazen is to perhaps move to a 6 man rotation to start the season, and perhaps make it all season. https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-costs-and-benefits-of-six-man-rotations/
With a team payroll of $150-160 million, this is very doable short term and long. Ahmed is off the books in 2024, Madbum 2025 (but he will cost $14 million in 2024 vs $23 million 2023).
If we trade Gallen for Jordan Walker then possibly the long term 3B and SS solution (Lawler) will be present for 2024.
Biggest issue will be with the plethora of AAAA players that will be on the 40 man that will need to be shed.
I believe that with these moves, we are capable of being a consistent playoff team. I would rather not trade prospects for players, and instead spend on free agents to fill immediate needs.