I am a D-Backs fan from Taiwan, so obviously English is not my native language, please forgive me if my grammar/wording is strange/bad, I will try my best to continue this interesting series...
If anyone does not know where Taiwan is, there are actually few Taiwanese in the D-Backs organization, namely:
- Yu-Min Lin, a LHP with impressive secondary and good control, quickly emerged as a legitimate prospect, ranked 15th in the system according to pipeline.
- Sheng-Ping Chen, 21 years old INF, played in Rawhides and Hops this year.
- Lyle Lin, former Sun Devil, selected in 2019, spent time across three levels in 2022.
- Corbin Carroll's mom is Taiwanese.
I've gotten carried away...Let's get it started...
- C-Caron Kelly
- 1B-Christian Walker
- 2B-Ketel Marte
- 3B-Josh Rojas/Emmanuel Rivera
- SS-Nick Ahmed(returning from injuries)/Geraldo Perdomo
- OF-Daulton Varsho/Corbin Carroll/Jake McCarthy/Alek Thomas
- SP-Zack Gallen/Merrill Kelly/Ryne Nelson/Drey Jameson/Brandon Pfaadt
- RP-Joe Mantiply/Kevin Ginkel
- Bad Contracts-Madison Bumgarner/Mark Melancon
The right side of the infield is probably set with Ketel's long-term commitment and Walker coming off a career year. Unless we can dump Ahmed, he and Perdomo will be the bridge before Jordan Lawlar takes over shortstop in 2024(following Carroll's route if everything go well).
Carson Kelly is a non-tender candidate for me, I like the way he leads our pitching staff but we need more from the catcher. Rivera's last month(33K%, wRC+27) is nowhere close to a regular, Rojas needs to tighten his defense at third and be a backup at second if Ketel's hamstrings don't work well.
We also need better contribution from DH spot, likely adding a right-handed bat to balance a left-handed heavy lineup.
As for the pitcher, we need more stability for the rotation, think what Jordan Lyles(179IP) gave Orioles this year or Merrill Kelly ver1.0. Ideally, MadBum shall be the veteran inning eater, after another disaster year, he will be lucky if he is not DFA before opening day.
Lastly, we will have to renew our bullpen, with no in-house candidate for closer and setup.
In conclusion, holes we need to address:
- New Catcher
- Closer+Setup man
Before digging into my proposal, we will have to understand D-Backs financial status.
Including buyout for Davies and IPK, our guaranteed money for 2023 is roughly 60M. By 2024, this figure drops around 38M with Ahmed departing, Mumgarner's salary decrease and Melancon's buyout.
According to MLBTR, our arbitration class includes 9 players, total salaries projected at 28.9M, I consider Carson(4.1M), Caleb Smith(2.7M), Reyes Moronta(2M) and Luplow(2M) as non-tender candidate, saving us 10.8M.
During 2018-19, when this team was in contending window, our payroll is around 125M. 60M(guaranteed)+18.1M+Pre-arb shall bring our payroll to around 90M, thus giving us 35M space to spend.
1. Trade Alek Thomas/Jake McCarthy + Blake Walston + prospect*2 for C Sean Murphy
In the real world, Mike Hazen will probably keeps Kelly and signs a veteran backup like Avila or Vogt. This time, I hope he can go for the best catcher in the trade market. Murphy is coming off a career best 5.1fWAR season and a wRC+140 second half. He is also good at framing (PR84 in MLB according to savant) and has a strong arm.
The price to acquire him will be hefty and I think Matt Olson's trade is a good benchmark. The A's received Cristine Pache, Shea Langliers, Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes in return. Alek Thomas or Jake McCarthy will headline the package and Blake Walston is a former Top100 with huge potential and shall be in major in two years. We will have to give up another two prospect around team's #10~#20 to finish the puzzle but it won't matter if we get our long-term catcher.
2. Sign 3B/DH Evan Longoria
Former Tampa Bay icon Longoria has played in the NL west last several years, we all know what he can do. He still hits the ball hard(46.8hard hit%), has good expected stats(his .416 xWOBCON is better than anyone on our team) and most importantly he is a right-handed batter who can hit lefty. He probably better suit for DH role but can play be a part-time third baseman.
Longoria's family live in Phoenix area and he considers Giants, Rays and D-Backs his only options. If we can sign him for lower than 5M, I think he can be someone like Adam Jones in 2019 and provide veteran leadership.
3. Sign SP Carlos Rodon
Same as Xerostomia, I would target Carlos Rodon. I think the whole industry don't believe he can stay healthy and we shall take chance. A five year deal with 25M AAV will likely get it done and we can backload the contract if needed(guaranteed money will be way down in 2024).
Rodon has turn in two straight solid year, finishing 6th in last year AL Cy Young voting and probably finish close to Gallen this year. Gallen, Rodon and Merrill will be a good front three and leave the last two spots to rookie starters.
4. Trade for RP Joe Jimenez
Same as ILIKEPOTATOES, I consider Jimenez an interesting target. He will be free agent by the end of next season and projected to earn 2.6M next year. The Tigers rebuild is far from finish and Jimenez shall be expendable. Jimenez has good xWOBA(.266), fastball velocity(avg. 95.7mph) and 33.3K%, certainly will help our bullpen.
5. Sign RP Robert Suarez
Padres setup man Suarez has been very good after the first series against Snakes. He is a flame-thrower, with four-seamer and sinker average both around 97mph and a high-80 changeup. He won't exercise his 5M player option and will be looking for higher guaranteed money. I think he has the stuff to be a dominant closer.
With all those moves our roster will be like:
- C-Sean Murphy
Murphy(3.5M)+Jimenez(2.6M)+Longoria(5M)+Rodon(AAV 25M)+Suarez(AAV 8M) = 42M
42M raises in payroll is not realistic, but we can backload Rodon and Suarez's contracts, e.g. give Rodon 16M in 2023, 34M in 2024, 25M in 25,26,27, thus making our future commitment more balance.
Under Mike Hazen, I don't think he will either trade for Murphy or sign Rodon, rather continue targeting mediocre veteran to fill holes.
Jimenez and Longoria are the kind of move he will make. He will keep Carson and sign a veteran left-handed backup like Omar Narvez. The closer will be replace by washed star e.g. Kimbrel/Chapman/Jansen.
I hope he will take another route this time, adding impactful players to a promising team.
Let's Go D-Backs!