MLB Offseason Preview: Arizona Diamondbacksby John Lepore December 14, 2020 1 comment
The Arizona Diamondbacks finished the season 25-35, the second-worst record in the National League. Certainly a bad season, but they are only three years removed from a playoff appearance. What do the D’Backs need to do to get back to the postseason?
While Arizona’s offense didn’t light up the scoreboard, they do have a decent starting lineup. That being said, they need to add some pop to the starting nine. The Diamondbacks finished with 58 HRs. Only the St. Louis Cardinals finished with fewer. A viable utility guy or two would help with flexibility as their bench was not very good. Last but not least…pitching. The bullpen needs help, and as with most teams, a starter or two can’t hurt.
Keys to the Offseason
Get Some Power
The Diamondbacks don’t put the ball over the fence often. Out of their 58 HRs in 2020, Kole Calhoun hit 16 of them. Christian Walker and Ketel Marte combined for 61 HRs in 2019 but just nine last season. If their power returns and David Peralta can get back to his 2018 form when he blasted 30, then this isn’t much of a problem, but there is no guarantee that happens. Another power bat, preferably someone with on-base skills as well, would lengthen what could be a dangerous lineup.
Pitching…Starter and/or Reliever
While Zac Gallen and Luke Weaver are at the top of the rotation, Merrill Kelly is on the last year of his deal and a quickly-aging Madison Bumgarner is a fourth or fifth starter at this point. There aren’t many in-house options as lefty Alex Young had a 6.03 ERA in his seven starts last year. Taylor Clarke, who made five starts, pitched to a 5.09 ERA in those appearances. Caleb Smith looks to be their fifth starter right now after being acquired at the trade deadline for Starling Marte.
As for the bullpen, Archie Bradley, Junior Guerra, and Hector Rondon are all free agents. Depth is certainly needed as Stefan Crichton and Riley Smith are the only guys likely locked into a spot. There are a ton of arms out there on the market and the Diamondbacks would be wise to grab at least three decent ones.
Travis Shaw, 30, 3B/1B
Shaw has had a rough couple of years. That means he will come at a discount. Even though his power has taken a bit of a downturn, Shaw did hit 30+ HRs in back-to-back years for Milwaukee in 2017-2018. He also sports a solid 11.6 percent walk rate over the last four years. The big lefty lends some versatility as well having played first, second, and third base in his career and is solid defensively at all three positions. As a reclamation project, Arizona can probably get Shaw on a two-year deal around $3-$5 million per year with a team-friendly option for 2023.
Anthony DeSclafani, 30, SP
The former Cincinnati Red had an awful 2020 like many players in the shortened season. DeSclafani still has a pretty live arm as his fastball averaged nearly 95 mph last season. Keeping the ball in the yard has been an issue the past couple of years, but if that can be remedied, the Diamondbacks could get a steal. DeScalafani may be looking for a one-year prove-it deal at around $3 million. Arizona could give him that with a significant pay increase as an option for 2022.
Brad Hand, 31, RP
While the D’Backs need multiple arms, why not go get a top-notch lefty who can close? Since he got to San Diego and started throwing his slider more in 2016, Hand has been one of the most consistent bullpen arms in baseball. In that time, he has saved 104 games and has struck out a third of the batters he has faced. The reliever market is not looking player-friendly right now especially with how volatile the position is even in a normal year. The Diamondbacks can probably land the lefty for three-four years at around $9-$12 million per year.
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