The Arizona Diamondbacks were supposed to be around .500 last year. PECOTA had them at 79-83, but finishing last in the NL with a 5.11 ERA and 13th in OPS at .692 was the recipe for the Diamondbacks’ horrible record. Injuries, especially to the pitching staff, can be blamed for some of their struggles. They had only three pitchers start more than 15 games last year in Madison Bumgarner, Zac Gallen, and Merrill Kelly and used 16 starters total during the season. The hitting suffered as well. Ketel Marte played in just 90 games, Carson Kelly never got back on track after returning from a six-week IL stint, and David Peralta forgot how to hit the ball over the fence.
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The snakes aren’t in a position to add free agents. It would be foolish to spend a ton of money on a few guys when they likely won’t make the postseason anyway. The position of the Diamondbacks should be to see what they have coming up. Their farm system is pretty good and there are a couple of players who can make an impact within the next year or two. They have added a couple of pieces, but there won’t be any major moves this year.
Jordan Luplow, OF, Arbitration eligible (Projected $1.5 million)
Luplow was acquired in November from the Tampa Bay Rays for middle infielder Ronny Simon. He is under control through 2024 and gives the Diamondbacks a right-handed option in the outfield. The 28-year-old crushes lefties. For his career over 378 plate appearances, Luplow is slashing .245/.360/.539 with 23 home runs against southpaws. Considering Arizona’s main outfield options, Peralta, Pavin Smith, and Jake McCarthy, are all left-handed hitters, Luplow brings some balance to the lineup. Even the top prospects in Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll bat from the left side. The former Ray should be able to carve out some playing time.
Mark Melancon, RHP, Two years/$14 million, 2024 mutual option
With Joakim Soria and Tyler Clippard gone, the Diamondbacks went out and brought in the soon to be 37-year-old Melancon to close games. While the right-hander has never been your typical closer as far as striking out a ton of hitters, he gets the job done. Just last year he led the NL in saves with 39 for the San Diego Padres. He will team up with another former New York Yankee 2006 draft pick in…
Ian Kennedy, RHP, One year/$4.75 million
Kennedy returns to the team where he had his best season. In 2011 as a starter, Kennedy was 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA for Arizona. That was a long time ago and the former first-round pick has since transitioned to the bullpen. He has had some success, logging 26 saves last season. The Diamondbacks are hoping this set of 37-year-olds will be an upgrade over the other duo of the same age from last year in Clippard and Soria.
Kole Calhoun, Outfield, Texas Rangers
The Diamondbacks declined Calhoun’s $9 million option making him a free agent. He managed to get himself signed before the lockout with the Texas Rangers for $5.2 million this year. For Arizona, this was an easy decision. Calhoun struggled last year and battled hamstring issues which limited him to 51 games. The snakes have a ton of outfield depth especially from the left side which made the former Los Angeles Angel expendable.
Tyler Clippard, Reliever, Free Agent
The Diamondbacks bought out Clippard’s contract for $500k making him a free agent. The aforementioned 37-year-old should find work somewhere. He had a 3.20 ERA with Arizona last year and tied for the team lead with six saves. He is a solid depth piece for a team that can use a veteran presence in the pen as this would be Clippard’s 16th year in the majors should he find himself on a major league roster.
Joakim Soria, Reliever, Retired
Soria announced his retirement from baseball back in November. He really isn’t a subtraction as the 14-year veteran was traded to Toronto last year after struggling with Arizona for much of the season, but he deserves a mention. Soria finishes his career with a 3.11 ERA and 229 saves. He was a dominant closer for the Kansas City Royals saving 143 games from 2008-2011 while making the All-Star game twice. Since 2013, Soria has played for nine different teams including a second stint with the Royals.
This season will be a transition year in the desert. Arizona gets to see what their young players look like and make some key decisions in the outfield. This is Peralta’s contract year and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him moved during the season. That would open the door for outfielders Thomas and Carroll to get some major league playing time under their belts. Using this year as a proving ground will also help the Diamondbacks evaluate what they have in guys like Smith, Christian Walker, Seth Beer, and Geraldo Perdomo.
While that record doesn’t look great, it is still a 12-game improvement over last season. The Colorado Rockies will likely be even worse so at least Arizona won’t be in the cellar of the NL West again. If all goes right, the Diamondbacks could approach .500 this year. They would need Marte and Kelly to play well for a whole season and have someone else contribute to the offense. Maybe Walker can get back to 2019 form and Peralta could possibly start blasting homers again. Especially in his contract year as the 35-year-old will want to get paid somewhere.
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