This is going to be my version of the future Arizona offseason. What I would do if I could be Mike Hazen and Ken Kendrick. I need to preface this now: I will be spending more money than I realistically think the team will. However, as I have stated many times on this site, I believe a non-insignificant bump in payroll is coming in 2024. I believe this for a few reasons:
- The team publicly stated last offseason that the money was there for the right player (specifically discussing their public attempts to sign both Xander Bogaerts and Dansby Swanson) - So long as that player was not Carroll (who signed after those comments were made), this money would appear to still be available.
- Ken Kendrick is getting up there in age and will need to pass ownership onto someone else at some point, possibly in the very near future (my personal guess is either after the 2025 season or when Hazen’s new extension ends after the 2028 season).
- We don’t know if Kendrick’s children have any interest in the role (nor what their proclivities would be if they took it).
- Regardless, there is incentive for Kendrick to spend more than usual: a) if his genes take over, he’d be setting them up for instant success, b) if he’s looking to sell, he’ll make more money with a product that is successful and has the look to continue that success for several more years, c) he could go out on a high with the team making the postseason more often than they have in 2 decades and/or winning the World Series.
This Xweet was released after I wrote all this up, but it also lends some credence to my hope here. Funnily enough, my wording was solidified before Kendrick used very similar language in his statement.
D-backs managing partner Ken Kendrick told Burns & Gambo the World Series run created an unplanned "economic windfall" that puts the organization in position to make "not insubstantial investments in the team."— Alex Weiner (@alexjweiner) November 2, 2023
With that out of the way, allow me to excite you with an offseason to remember!
Sign Yoshinobu Yamamoto for 8/$200M (2024-2031, AAV $25M)
The highest ceiling player coming from overseas this winter, Yamamoto will have no lack of suitors. There will be a bidding war. He’s only 25. He’s got ace potential. He makes sense for pretty much every team, even considering his expected salary. So I’m not sure he’d choose Arizona if he has commensurate offers elsewhere, but if the team is willing to cover his hypothetical entire MLB career and guarantee life-changing money, why not the sunniest place on earth?
Sign Jordan Montgomery for 6/$155M (2024-2029, AAV $25.8M)
There are several players I’d consider here. Aaron Nola at the right price isn’t outlandish. Blake Snell isn’t my cup of tea, but I wouldn’t be too upset about it. Even Josh Hader wouldn’t be a negative for me (but at that point, just extend Sewald?). Most intriguing (and money-saving) would be Kenta Maeda. But to me, Montgomery offers the best value to the Arizona Diamondbacks in particular. In 2022 when he was traded mid-season to St Louis and overnight received a quality defense behind him, he turned from a quasi roster spot to staff ace. His delivery isn’t too hard on his body, and he’s got lots of veteran experience at this point. Give him a manager like Torey and a defense that prides itself on fundamentally sound play with minimal errors and you may just have a true diamond in the rough signee.
Unfortunately for Arizona, Montgomery may have pitched himself into a higher bracket this postseason. At which point he’s signing elsewhere. But if a deal can be made in this general area, it could end up being a very good deal for all involved parties.
Sign Zac Gallen for 8/$275M (2025-2032, AAV $34.375M)
I don’t really think Gallen extends. But if it’s going to happen, it’s happening this Winter. We’re fresh off the deepest of postseason runs. He’s the undisputed best pitcher on the staff. He has enough excellent experience to warrant a hefty salary. He can make his legacy count by spending the majority of his career with a single team. But it’ll cost. A lot. So let’s pay it. This potential deal makes him the most expensive contract in team history, albeit not by AAV.
Sign Christian Walker for 3/$24M (2025-2027, AAV $8M)
This move is motivated by another move down below, but also acts as a bit of recompense for trading Goldy so many years ago (for those who feel it is necessary). We’re never really going to know what prompted that trade, but in my opinion, a portion of it was not believing the player could avoid Father Time long enough. Luckily, Walker has a similar mindset and work ethic to Goldy that seems worthwhile to risk an extension on. And the deal itself is not too long, nor too expensive.
Sign Gabriel Moreno for 8/$150M (2024-2031, AAV $18.75M)
Does this one really need an explanation? You can’t wait too long to make this move or you risk a Montero situation. You can’t make the deal too long either or you run into what likely happens to catchers who play everyday. But you can make the move early and cement your best catcher in well over a decade (if not franchise history when all is said and done). And if he ages well, or just wants to be a Yadier Molina type, all the better! You’ve laid the groundwork for a symbiotic relationship if another extension is warranted years down the line.
General rule of thumb for all the above signings: I presented them as base, guaranteed salaries. I didn’t broach into the concept of escalating yearly earnings. Or opt-outs. The lack of opt-outs is because I don’t know what any of these players truly want or think of themselves. Maybe they all want opt-outs to avoid poor Arizona decisions down the line. Maybe none do. Each deal would likely include incentives as well, but I chose to only focus on guaranteed “base” salaries because I like using solid round numbers.
Trade for Mike Trout and cash from Los Angeles (Anaheim edition)
- Arizona receives: Mike Trout and $150M cash spread evenly over the rest of his contract
- Los Angeles receives: SP Merrill Kelly, SP Brandon Pfaadt, IF Ivan Melendez, OF Kristian Robinson
Of all the insane ideas I’ve put forth so far, this one certainly would steal the show, no? There are so many moving parts to this deal. How would we convince Trout to waive his no-trade clause for Arizona? Will Anaheim really consider moving their iconic face-of-the-franchise player the same winter they lost Tungsten Arm O’Doyle (now with TJSx2!) to free agency? Is Anaheim self-aware enough to realize a serious rebuild is necessary to reach the point they’ve pretended to try for each of the last 6-10 years? Is Arizona willing to risk giving up so much value in a single deal? Is Mike Trout even worth the move at this point in his career?
Let’s assume the answers to all those questions fall in favor of making this move. Arizona nets one of the greatest players of all time at an affordable rate thanks to some cash coming over with him. They net his experience and personality to blend with unbelievable phenom Corbin Carroll. They acquire Veteran Presence that offers real value on the field as well. They also take on quite the task for their strength and conditioning team as Trout has spent significant time on the Injured List each of the last several seasons.
To achieve all this, Arizona pays a hefty price. Merrill Kelly is known as Merrill The Mainstay for a reason: he’s easily the most reliable pitcher on the team. He’s sort of a local boy. He’s a special favorite of both fans and the reigning regime. He’s also very cheap considering his on-field production. Brandon Pfaadt is a former top prospect who looks to finally be reaching his potential at the MLB level. He’s controllable at cheap rates for years to come with extensive postseason experience built in. He could become the next Max Scherzer or Trevor Bauer in the annals of Arizona trade history. If he stays, he could be the staff ace when Gallen leaves in free agency. Ivan Melendez. The Hispanic Titanic. The man who only hits homers. He’s got potential like you wouldn’t believe. There are holes in his game (strikeouts wave emphatically), but he’s also shown enough to believe he might just move beyond them and turn into a Pete Alonso type player (if you squint). And the forgotten golden goose himself in Kristian Robinson. The man who looked to be a superstar in the making before off-field issues stunted his development. The man who made his triumphant return to the diamond this year and showed up in a noticeable way. The ceiling/value is lower than it was pre-covid, but the usefulness as an everyday player still exists.
2024 Opening Day Roster (back up option)
RF – Corbin Carroll (McCarthy)
DH – Ketel Marte (Trout)
1B – Christian Walker (Rivera)
LF – Mike Trout (Lewis)
C – Gabriel Moreno (Herrera)
3B – Emmanuel Rivera (Peterson)
CF – Alek Thomas (Carroll)
2B – Jordan Lawlar (Marte)
SS – Geraldo Perdomo (Lawlar)
SP – Zac Gallen (Montgomery)
ASP – Zac Gallen
2SP – Yoshinobu Yamamoto
3SP – Jordan Montgomery
CL – Paul Sewald
SURP – Kevin Ginkel
RP – Kyle Nelson
RP – Andrew Saalfrank
RP – Ryan Thompson
RP – Miguel Castro
RP – Scott McGough
RP – Joe Mantiply
2024 POSTION PLAYERS
1B – Christian Walker
2B – Jordan Lawlar
3B – Emmanuel Rivera
SS – Geraldo Perdomo
C – Gabriel Moreno
OF – Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Mike Trout
DH – Ketel Marte
BN – Jose Herrera
BN – Jace Peterson
BN – Jake McCarthy
BN – Kyle Lewis
Injured List - Drey Jameson, Tommy Henry (?)
Below is a VERY rough estimate of what the 2024 salary for the team would look like. It is calculated using league minimum for all Pre-Arb Guys, MLBTR estimates for Arb Guys, real contracts for players already signed, and AAV for players I suggested signing. It is high. Too high for Kendrick to be comfortable with. It is too much of an increase on 2023’s actuality to be realistic. But it is possible. And it would certainly bring a newfound expectation to the team.
Pre Arb Players: ~$7,700,000.00
Arb Players: ~$12,610,000.00
Contract Players: ~$176,425,000.00
Total Salary: ~$196,735,000.00