The Future of Zac Gallen as a Dback

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

All of us who are thinking about the moves the Dbacks should make this winter will include extending Zach Gallen beyond his remaining three years of arbitration as a priority. Gallen had a great season in 2022, breaking out as a legitimate ace and showing the promise of being a Cy Young candidate for all three of the years his contract remains under Dbacks control. I think we can assume that the Dbacks are having those extension discussions with Gallen's agent, Scott Boras, now or will be soon. I'm skeptical that Gallen will agree to be extended. Because he's from New Jersey and seems as though he would enjoy the passionate and knowledgeable (i.e. in your face) fan bases of the northeast (and a few other places), I expect him to decline whatever the Dbacks might offer. What should the Dbacks do about that?

IF he cannot be extended, The Dbacks will have two choices - a) get the full three years of his performance and get a supplemental draft pick in 2026 when he leaves as a free agent or, b) move him before the end of those three years to get some value back.

The Washington Nationals faced a similar situation with Juan Soto this year and, after their reportedly huge extension offer was rejected, decided to move their young phenom immediately in the belief that his value was highest with the most controllable time left before free agency - he had 2 1/2 years left at the time of the trade. Following this example, the Dbacks could consider moving Gallen this winter to get maximum value in return.

They could also hold onto him and move him once he wins the Cy Young Award or after the 2024 season or even at the deadline during 2025, which would reduce the return but retain his services for at least one year of the team's competitive window. I think that window will open in 2024 mostly because the biggest chunk of Madbum's contract and all of Nick Ahmed's contract will be off the books - about $20m less than 2023 - allowing the FO to go all in, filling one or more holes with free agents.

However, if the team decided to move his contract now, the St. Louis Cardinals could be a partner. They are in their own competitive window now and could benefit greatly by the addition of a pitching ace for the next three years, with a realistic chance at extension. Nolan Arenado, having decided to stay, blocks their top prospect, 3B Jordan Walker (20 years old, AA in 2022, 306/388/510/898) which may make him available in such a deal. The Dbacks would expect to get more, I think, for Gallen and the Cardinals might agree to give up Mathew Liberatore or another good young MLB-ready pitcher as well. There would probably be other prospects to fill in the deal. Walker looks like the real deal as a hitter with an adequate glove. He would be the long-term answer at 3B.

The Dbacks would obviously open a huge hole in the rotation if they made this deal. If they have confidence in their pitching prospects (and whoever they may get in the deal), it would create another spot for a young guy to shine and 2023 would be the time to sort out who's ready and who's not. If a free agent starter is needed for 2024, they'd need to be ready to go get one.

This deal seems more aggressive than either the Dbacks or Cardinals usually are with their prospects but it might fit both teams well enough to work this time. Would you do it?