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Towards a 2023 Diamondbacks Opening Day roster v2.0

New year, new roster - well, some changes at least...

Ball Test - Times Square New Year’s Eve 2023 Celebration Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/WireImage

It’s only a couple of weeks since we took our first shot at a 2023 Diamondbacks roster, but it seems an awful lot longer, with a significant trade, a not-so-significant trade and a veteran presence signed in free agency. So, I think we probably should revisit things and see where Arizona stands after these moves. I also wanted to talk a bit about the option situation, as this will certainly play into the decisions. As before, this is my best guess at what the team’s 26-man roster would look like on Opening Day. I’ve limited myself to the players currently on the 40-man roster. New arrivals are in bold, departures in strikethrough.


  • Carson Kelly
  • Gabriel Moreno
  • Ali Sánchez

This was clearly the focus of the Hazenbomb, which came out of nowhere - ISH95 was probably the most shocked of the commentors on the previous article, having said “My gut tells me this ultimately won’t see any change.” /laughs in Hazen.

While it seems likely that Kelly will still be the starter on Opening Day, I would expect Moreno to gradually assume more of the duties going forward. Shame both are right-handed hitters, but we’ll figure it out. If Moreno hits like he did in his (fairly large) cup of coffee last year, with an 111 OPS+ across 73 PA, it might be quite soon that he gets the lion’s share of the starts, leaving Kelly’s long-term future in Arizona murky as he becomes more expensive through arbitration. Sanchez was DFA’d on the 23rd, so we should know whether he’s still a Diamondback very soon.

Spencer: Yay! I love Carson, but Moreno was the Catcher I wanted if we had to make a deal for one. No chance Murphy signs that extension in Arizona, so his cost was too high for my liking. Swing big and see what happens. With payrolls like Arizona has, that’s all you can do to try and compete.

Infield starters

  • 1B Christian Walker
  • 2B Ketel Marte
  • SS Nick Ahmed
  • 3B Josh Rojas
  • DH Kyle Lewis
  • DH Evan Longoria

With Rojas being left-handed, it’s easy to imagine a platoon of him and...someone at third-base, with Rojas getting the majority of playing time. Previously, that was most likely to be Emmanuel Rivera, but it could be Longoria who gets the starts now. Putting Evan at DH, however, might help out with his health issues, which have limited him to less than 300 PA per season, each of the last three years. The good news is, there doesn’t appear anything particularly recurring about the injuries. Last year, for example, his four (!) separate stints on the IL were due to recovery from hand surgery, a left oblique strain, a right hamstring strain, and a hand broken by a pitch. Nothing too abnormal for a 37-year-old, beyond bad luck.

Spencer: Longoria is unnecessary and simply delays knowing what we have in Rivera while costing more money (my assumption is Rivera takes the biggest hit for this signing). If the team truly has given up on Emmanual, I’d have rather seen a move for a better upside option. $4M equates to about half a WAR. I’m not sure trusting a 37-year-old with significant recent injury history to reach that is wise. If Longoria truly takes Lewis’ spot on the roster, he will have to produce like he hasn’t in years for me to feel remotely good about this move. Part of the reason Seattle was ready to move on from him was the relationship soured upon his latest demotion to AAA. Starting his tenure here with that same move isn’t smart.

Outfield starters

  • LF: Corbin Carroll
  • CF: Alek Thomas
  • RF: Daulton Varsho
  • RF: Jake McCarthy

Okay, the departure of Varsho has probably convinced me that the team are going to go with Carroll on the Opening Day roster. Thomas may be one of the big “winners” of the Varsho trade, in that he’s now the “true” center-fielder. Though such is the athleticism of everyone else, they would probably be capable of fielding the position at better than replacement level, and possibly around average level. It is still an all left-handed line-up on an everyday basis, but the arrival of both Longoria and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will help in balancing the line-up out when necessary. If the catcher change shocked ISH95, he did predict this with almost uncanny accuracy:

I think there is going to be a trade this off-season. If I had to guess, Varsho will be the one who’s out, and replaced on the roster by either a RH outfielder, which would shake this up, or some combination of pitching and catching.

What about BOTH a RH outfielder and a catcher?

Makakilo: Which outfield position will Corbin Carroll play most often? Jim listed him as the left fielder, Jack Sommers listed him as the right fielder, and FanGraphs Roster Resource listed him as the center fielder. My view is that Corbin Carroll is a better defender in left field than right field, and Thomas is the natural center fielder, leaving McCarthy in right field (which aligns with Jim’s choices).

It is interesting that FanGraphs listed Lourdes Gurriel Jr as playing left field, where last season he earned +3 DRS in 896.2 innings. Corbin Carroll is my choice for left field because he earned +3 DRS playing left field, but did it in only 176.1 innings.

Non-catcher bench

  • Emmanuel Rivera
  • Geraldo Perdomo
  • Pavin Smith
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

This is definitely heading towards a roster crunch, because we haven’t even found room for the other new arrival, Diego Castillo, or Kyle Lewis yet. Options are going to play a significant part in these decisions. The good news is, there are plenty to go around. All the starting outfielders have options; so do the three players listed above, as well as Smith, Castillo and Lewis, making the possibilities almost endless. For example, Fangraphs’ Roster Resource is currently going a different route, with Thomas in the minors, Gurriel an everyday outfielder and Lewis on the bench. Or there’s Jack Sommers’s version, which has Smith still on the roster, in place of Rivera. These are all legitimate opinions.

My main qualm with Smith being squeezed out would be the lack of any experienced backup for Walker at first-base. Gurriel has some experience, but only 106.1 innings at first. That’s still more than Rivera (36), and it’s not as if Longoria has ever played the position. Mind you, there’s no reason why Walker should not virtually have his name pre-printed on Torey Lovullo’s line-up card. It is worth noting there will need to be a 40-man roster move to make room for Longoria, when the deal is officially announced, and this could then potential alternatives. Jack has a good piece up on who might end up being taken behind the woodshed.

Spencer: I’ve already said I think Rivera will pay the price for signing Longoria, not Smith. He is doing well in LIDOM right now, so I’m sure that will give him the edge since the team decided 3B was a bigger need than backup 1B/OF.

Makakilo: The following list includes players who could be called up from the minors when needed, with the caveat that currently there is room on the active roster for two of the following players. We have Alek Thomas and Emmanuel Rivera on the active roster, but other choices are possible. Roster Resource (FanGraphs) showed that these players are on the 40-man unless noted.

  • 3B: Emmanuel Rivera, Diego Castillo, Phillip Evans (not on 40-man)
  • SS: Blaze Alexander
  • 2B: Diego Castillo, Buddy Kennedy (not on 40-man)
  • 1B: Seth Beer, Phillip Evans (not on 40-man)
  • C: Jose Herrera
  • LF: Pavin Smith
  • CF: Alek Thomas, Dominic Fletcher
  • RF: Kyle Lewis, Dominic Canzone (not on 40-man)

Starting pitchers

  1. Zac Gallen
  2. Merrill Kelly
  3. Madison Bumgarner
  4. Ryne Nelson
  5. Drey Jameson

At least this is an area where nothing has changed for now. The team may still look to sign an experienced starter. But I’m not convinced it’ll offer much upside over the young pitchers, of whom the team doesn’t really have any shortage. Excellently though both Nelson and Jameson pitched, they made seven starts between them. So I do want to see how they perform over a more extended sample size before coming to any conclusions.

Makakilo: The Diamondbacks should plan on using 7 starters during the season. Tommy Henry, as a starting pitcher on the 40-man roster, could be called up to start games. The seventh starter could be an acquisition or an addition to the 40-man roster. One starting pitcher not on the 40-man is Brandon Pfaadt.


  • Miguel Castro
  • Kevin Ginkel
  • Joe Mantiply
  • Scott McGough
  • Mark Melancon
  • Kyle Nelson
  • Cole Sulser
  • Taylor Widener
  • Corbin Martin

I was reminded that Martin is out of options, so if he’s not on the opening day roster, he’ll have to be exposed to waivers. Widener was DFA’d in order to make room for Diego Castillo on the 40-man roster. At time of writing, I have not yet heard whether he has been claimed, traded or made it through and is still in the organization. Again, there’s a fair amount of flexibility here. Outside of Martin. Melancon and Castro. everyone else has minor-league options. So if the team wants to add a veteran/non-roster arm or two, they can do so without losing anyone.

Spencer: Well. I wanted better than Widener. At least he’s gone. Not sure better is the right word yet, but yeah.

Makakilo: The following list includes six relief pitchers not listed above who could be called up during the season. For additional possibilities see this AZ Snake Pit article.

  • Ryan Hendrix
  • Tyler Holton
  • Luis Frias
  • Carlos Vargas
  • Justin Martinez
  • Zach McAllister, possible depth closer. See this AZ Snake Pit article, which will likely post Tuesday.