The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off of an unexpected playoff trip in 2017 where the eventually fell to the LA Dodgers in the NLCS. No one expected the D-Backs to win 90 plus games a year ago. This year the Diamondbacks will have a totally different look to them. Sure, manager of the year Torrey Lovullo will return but the power bat of JD Martinez will not after he signed with the Red Sox. Martinez hit 29 home runs in 62 games for Arizona in the second half of the season.
The NL West is also improving. The division might be the most difficult one in baseball. The Giants overhauled their roster with a bunch of veteran additions. The Rockies also restocked their bullpen to virtually add every available option on the market. Eric Hosmer even found his way to the irrelevant Padres. Oh, yeah, the Dodgers made the World Series last year. Where do the Arizona Diamondbacks stand heading into the 2018 MLB season?
Offseason Grade: D
Additions: Jerrod Dyson, Alex Avila, Fernando Salas, Henry Owens, Brad Boxberger, Steven Souza
Subtractions: Gregor Blanco, David Hernandez, J.J. Hoover, Chris Iannetta, J.D. Martinez, Fernando Rodney, Adam Rosales, Anthony Banda, Brandon Drury, Curtis Taylor
Did the D-Backs get better this offseason? Hell no! Losing J.D. Martinez was inevitable but replacing him with Steven Souza is unthinkable. To give up Brandon Drury and three prospects to acquire a below average fielder and .220 hitter. Homers are nice but they have the exact same player in Yasmany Thomas and also can’t field. Good luck tracking down balls in Arizona.
The D-Backs slightly upgraded at catcher with the addition of Alex Avila but even that is debatable. 29 clubs tried to address their bullpen this offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks decided to trade for Brad Boxberger to be the primary closer. This can’t end well. I’m not sure the Mike Hazen era is built for the long run despite the success in year one.
Avila will be the catcher as we mentioned but he really grades out as a plus defender where most of his value is built in. The corner infield of Arizona is extremely talented but the middle infield couldn’t be more flawed. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt is an MVP candidate each and every year. Goldy hit .297, 36 bombs and has recorded an OBP of over .401 in 4 of his first 7 career seasons. Goldschmidt, 30, is Arizona’s most talented player but they really only have two more years of his production left. 3rd baseman Jake Lamb also made the All-Star game this past year. He doesn’t hit much for average (.248) but always gets on base (.357) and has hit 29 – 30 home runs the past two years.
The middle infield will be the D-Backs downfall. Trades have decimated this group. Arizona could really use Jean Segura but he was shipped out of town in an awful trade in 2016. Drury would have also started pretty much every day at second base. Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, and Ketel Marte are the middle infield options. Ahmed is a career .216 hitter, Owings sits at .257, and Marte sits at .265. All three players are good fielders but there’s not a whole lot else they do besides do a whole lot of nothing at the end of the order.
The D-Backs have been begging people to take the ugly contract of Yasmany Thomas off their hands. He needs to be in the AL so that he can just DH. Arizona then doubled down with Steven Souza, another AL type of player. The rest of the outfield looks solid but again, the organization could be in a much better spot if they kept Ender Inciarte.
David Peralta, Jerrod Dyson, and A.J. Pollack are the rest of the outfield options. Dyson will likely serve as a pinch runner and fourth outfielder of sorts. Dyson stole 33 bags this past year with the Mariners so hopefully the 33-year old still has his wheels. Both Pollack and Peralta are good on-base guys. Both don’t bring much pop with 14 homers each but are considered above average. Both also had just 106 RBI’s combined but play defense fairly well.
Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin, and Zack Godley make up the rotation. The Arizona Diamondbacks will also get Shelby Miller at some point mid-season as he recovers from Tommy John. Greinke is the ace of the staff but is aging. He tossed a 3.20 ERA a year ago but it remains to be seen how long he can hold on to that form. Ray, Walker, and Corbin really could determine the fate of the season. They all had career years in their own rights. Ray even had an ERA of just 2.89! Was this just a flash in the pan or can we expect this trio to be great again? Anything short of their 2017 seasons and Arizona likely falls short.
The rotation is great but the bullpen has serious red flags. Brad Boxberger can’t really close, right? Fernando Rodney wasn’t ideal by any means but this isn’t really an upgrade. They did sign Yoshihisa Hirano from Japan but we shouldn’t really have any expectations with this signing either. Archie Bradley is the real deal after converting from a starter and seems to be locked into the 8th inning role with a 1.73 ERA last year. Besides Bradley, the rest of the unit can’t be counted on.
The D-Backs system is pretty down outside of two guys, Jon Duplantier and Pavin Smith. For example, Arizona received Taylor Widener in the Souza deal. Widener was ranked 15th in the Yankees system. He’s now the 4th best prospect in the dry desert. That’s all you need to know, there isn’t much young talent on the horizon. Both Duplantier and Pavin Smith are probably at least a year away as well.
A lot of things went well for the Diamondbacks that will have to also come to fruition in 2018. I find it hard to believe that the Diamondbacks are 153 runs better than their opponents again when their entire rotation pitched above expectations. Without a big bat like J.D. Martinez to protect Paul Goldschmidt, I’m not sure their lineup is nearly as productive as it was to carry them to a playoff spot. Before the start of the season, I would put Arizona as the third best team in the NL West behind the Dodgers and Rockies. I wouldn’t be surprised if San Francisco also surpasses the D-Backs but I’m not there yet.