After the trade of Paul Goldschmidt, many fans of the Arizona Diamondbacks are assuming this team is about to enter a rebuilding phase much like the other professional teams in Phoenix. The front office has made it very clear though that this is NOT a rebuild, though.
The D-Backs have been asked about trades for David Peralta, Nick Ahmed, and Robbie Ray, and it seems like they aren’t too willing to listen. Carson Kelly and Luke Weaver both have extended MLB experience for guys entering their age 25 seasons.
Let’s not forget, this team was a September collapse away from at least getting a Wild Card spot and potentially beating out the Dodgers for the NL West.
This Team Isn’t Far From Winning
Three of our best players are gone from last year in Goldschmidt, Pollock, and Corbin, but this team still has a lot of talent with David Peralta, Ketel Marte, Robbie Ray, Steven Souza Jr, Jake Lamb, and Nick Ahmed. This is a team with a lot of experience, and Zack Greinke is the longest tenured big leaguer with 15 seasons under his belt.
The D-Backs success the past two years has stemmed from the success of the starting rotation. In 2017, they were third in the league in starting pitching ERA, and this year they finished 9th with a lot of missed starts from Taijuan Walker and Robbie Ray.
The Diamondbacks biggest difference from 2017 to 2018 was the major decline in offense as it went from a top 10 offense in batting average to a bottom three from 2017 to 2018. Let’s remember Paul Goldschmidt was in the line-up the entire time, but Jake Lamb and Steven Souza Jr. combined for 128 games played due to injuries. While many might have lost faith in them because of up and down performance in 2018 when “healthy”, they both hit 30 home runs in 2017.
Don’t get me wrong, losing Goldy hurts a whole helluva lot. But if these guys are healthy, this offense could be at least league average. The biggest question mark is who is playing center field, and I think they might be somewhat aggressive with getting someone outside the organization. I think Adam Jones on a one year deal could be great for the clubhouse and lineup, and maybe they look for trade candidates like Jackie Bradley Jr.
Let His Value Peak
We haven’t seen Greinke traded yet because his value on the market is too low during this free agent frenzy. With his huge contract, there are cheaper options to fill out rotations right now with Corey Kluber, Noah Syndergaard, Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, Rick Porcello, and Jon Gray on the trade market. This doesn’t even count the likes of Dallas Keuchel, Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, and all the guys who have already signed (Corbin, Morton, Eovaldi & Happ).
Greinke has three years and $104.5 million still on the table, and teams want the D-Backs to take care of at least 20 million on the contract to keep his contract reasonable on their books. Once it gets to the All-Star break, this contract will obviously be less for the 2018 season, and there will be a team or two desperate for quality starting pitching four months into the season.
I’m assuming that plenty of money will still have to be eaten by the D-Backs, but they might be able to grab a good prospect or two for him at the deadline. If he is having a Cy Young type of year and the team is struggling, the package could be something close to what we saw in the Goldy trade.
Taijuan Walker Returns Around the All-Star Break
With the exit of Patrick Corbin and the injured plagued 2018 for Robbie Ray, Greinke is the clear ace and without him, this team could go from a potentially sneaky Wild Card team to a losing team.
Near the trade deadline, Taijuan Walker should be coming back from Tommy John surgery, and he can fill the rotation spot if Greinke is sent out. Walker has two more arbitrations left, and top prospects like Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener, and Taylor Clarke are all going to be pushing September call-ups.
The rotation is in good shape for the future with the recent additions of Merrill Kelly and Luke Weaver, so Greinke is expendable if they are a .500 or below team come the All-Star Break.
This might be a little bit of a risk if Greinke gets hurt or if he regresses to the pitcher he was his first season in the desert, but I believe it is worth it if our front office believes this team can compete with the Rockies and Dodgers still.