Lets talk some Diamondbacks baseball and MLB Hot Stove.
Let’s Talk J.D. and Manny
The Diamondbacks Opening Day lineup WILL NOT feature J.D. Martinez or Manny Machado.
The MLB Hot Stove has used its jedi mind tricks into giving D-Backs fans hope for a blockbuster caliber move. J.D. Martinez isn’t going to turn down a $100 million dollar plus deal for a 1 year pact. Even in the highly unlikely event that Scott Boras opens up bidding for a 1 year deal, can the Diamondbacks win that bidding war? John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 has reported that the Diamondbacks are willing pay J.D. Martinez only on a 1 year deal. Gambadoro also noted the Diamondbacks are not interested in a multi-year deal.
Buster Olney reported earlier in the week that Boston’s offer for J.D. is 5 years, $100 million. The only multi-year suitor for J.D. is the Boston Red Sox. While if this rumor is true and Boras and J.D. decide to gamble on a 1 year deal, there will be more suitors than just the D-Backs and Red Sox. On a 1 year deal I could see a Martinez getting a minimum of $25 million while I’d put the prediction at $30 million. I just have a hard time imagining the Diamondbacks payroll jumping to the $155-160 million range. Ken Kendrick is willing to open up the checkbook when there is belief the D-Backs can win, but never to the point of putting the D-Backs inside the top 25% in payroll.
While J.D. Martinez returning to Arizona is in his control, Manny Machado coming to the desert is in the hands of the ever unpredictable Baltimore Orioles. The New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox can make the best offers for Machado, but ownership doesn’t want to move Machado to the rival Yankees and fear the White Sox could flip him to New York. That leaves the Diamondbacks as the most interested, yet weaker offer. We do not know what the Diamondbacks could offer, but we assume it could be in the range of Chris Owings or Brandon Drury plus starting pitching prospects Jon Duplantier, Taylor Clarke, and Anthony Banda. While I’m a major fan of Duplantier and Clarke, I’d be willing to part with one of them along with CO/Drury and Banda or Shipley for a year of Machado.
Let’s Talk MLB Hot (Cold) Stove
The MLB Hot Stove has been ice cold. While some people are shouting collusion, simply MLB Front Offices are just more intelligent than ever. Years of $100 million deals burning franchises have finally made GM’s realize the massive risks of guaranteeing 9 figures to players in their 30’s. A combination of sabermetric savvy front offices and the new CBA having harsher luxary tax penalties creating essentially a salary cap has crimpled free agency.
Early on in free agency we heard that back end rotation starting options Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb wanted $80 million plus. Scott Boras wanted to get J.D. Martinez 7 years, $210 million. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta were expected to land deal well north $100 million. Now almost 3 months into free agency all those players are still free agents. According to MLB Trade Rumors, 9 of their top 10 ranked free agents are unsigned.
The free agent market has drastically changed. It is a great time to be a reliever as 7th and 8th inning options are earning $7-8 million a year and closer Wade Davis broke the annual salary for closer at $17.3 million. The starting pitching market is still full of options but Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb should still command 8 digit yearly paychecks and Yu Darvish should still receive a deal north of $100 million. The biggest hit to the modern market comes from the hitter market. While teams are preparing to spend $300 million plus on 5 tool players like Manny Machado and Bryce Harper next year, one dimensional players have taken a hit.
Sports Illustrated ran a story this offseason predicting J.D. Martinez’s actual value over the next 5 years to be only around $83 million. MLB teams are putting a larger importance on speed, defense, and overall health. Taking on a player who is terrible defensively, a clog on the base paths, and is injury prone is a heavy negative that is hard to overlook when offering a multi year deal. With the majority of free agents being on the wrong side of 30, players who have one strong skill and no safety nets in other areas of their game are extremely risky signings. In the recent years, the highest paid free agent hitters in general have been busts. For example here is a list of the 2 largest free agent hitter free agent salaries from 2010-2015:
2010 Carl Crawford 7/142, Jayson Werth 7/126
2011 Albert Pujols 10/250, Prince Fielder 9/214
2012 Josh Hamilton 5/123, Melvin Upton Jr 5/75
2013 Robinson Cano 10/240, Jacoby Ellsbury 7/153
2014 Pablo Sandoval 5/95, Hanley Ramirez 4/88
2015 Jason Heyward 8/184, Chris Davis 7/161
Of all these 12 deals, just one of them worked out at the end of the day in Robinson Cano. So you can understand why teams are shying away from the massive 9 digit deals for hitters.
Let’s Talk Yasmany Tomas
If I had a nickel for every tweet I receive saying we should trade Tomas to free up cash for J.D. Martinez, I’d have enough money to personally pay for J.D. Martinez. In the likely event that the D-Backs do not land J.D. or Manny, Yasmany Tomas will be the major benefactor. Before you groan, I’m here to point out some good news.
I fully expect Ketel Marte to be the everyday shortstop for the Diamondbacks in 2018. Chris Owings versatility allows him to find an everyday role too, which leads me to expect a platoon between Yasmany Tomas and Brandon Drury. The only saving grace of potential Yasmany Tomas has in being worth any of his remaining contract is the hope that he can repeat his 2016 dominance against left handed pitching. In that season Toma had a 364/423/690 slash line against lefties while homering every 11.7 at bats. Tomas hit a lowly 242 against righties that season with 20 homers in 400 at bats, but if he can dominate lefties again, D-backs could have the makings of a productive platoon.
As for Brandon Drury, his splits are pretty even between hitting against left or right handed pitching. If Drury faces the right handed side of the platoon though, that’ll allow the Diamondbacks to place their best defense on the field the majority of the time with Drury at 2nd base and Owings in the outfield versus Owings at 2nd base and Toma sin the outfield. Last season Brandon Drury ranked 14th in defensive runs saved at 2nd base in the MLB. Chris Owings ranked 38/39 in defensive runs saved at 2nd base in 2017 but 11/45 for RF in 2017.
Let’s Talk Archie Bradley
On a lighter note, the winter of Archie has been epic. If you go to any sporting event in the Phoenix area there’s a 150% chance Archie Bradley will be there. On a team that features perennial All-Stars in Paul Goldschmidt and Zack Greinke, Archie Bradley is firmly the face (and beard) of the franchise.
Recently Pirates closer Felipe Rivero signed a 6 year extension for $42 million. Rivero will receive $22 million through his 4 remaining arbitration years and then two team options at $10 million per year. That deal got me wondering, what if the D-Backs locked up Archie Bradley to a similar deal?
Before his extension, Rivero and Bradley were both set to become free agents in 2022. Rivero throws 98+ from the left side with a devastating slider as Archie throws 98+ from the right side with an elite curveball. Arguably Rivero being left handed may have more value, but both posted identical 2017’s with Rivero having a 1.67 ERA, 10.51 K/9 in 2017 compared to Bradley’s 1.73 ERA, 9.74 K/9.
Potential hold-ups to an Archie Bradley extension could involve the fact he’s a year younger than Rivero and that Archie’s value could sky rocket if Bradley were ever to become a starting pitcher (and succeed). Personally, I believe Archie Bradley was put on this earth to close out games for the Diamondbacks and should remain in the bullpen, which could make an extension like Rivero’s market value for Archie Bradley.
Let’s Talk Random Stats
To close this out, here are some interesting D-Backs stats.
- Very quietly, Patrick Corbin had a strong second half in 2017. Here are the post 2017 All Star Break ERA’s for the Diamondbacks rotation:
Robbie Ray 2.73
Patrick Corbin 3.26
Taijuan Walker 3.32
Zack Greinke 3.66
Zack Godley 4.01
- All 5 Diamondbacks starting pitchers ranked inside the top 30 in K/9 in the 2nd half of 2017 (Among Qualified Starters Pitchers)
- Robbie Ray’s 12.11 K/9 was 2nd in the MLB only to Chris Sale
- 3 times in franchise history have the D-Backs had a duo both strike out at least 200 guys.
2001 Randy Johnson (372) Curt Schilling (293)
2002 Randy Johnson (332) Curt Schilling (319)
2017 Robbie Ray (218) Zack Greinke (215)
- Paul Goldschmidt last season became the first D-Back ever to have 3 30 HR/110 RBI seasons
- J.D. Martinez hit 29 homers in 62 games making his per 162 game homer average 75.7 homers, MLB single season steroid free home run record is 61 (Roger Maris).
- In the Diamondbacks 3 leaders for most saves in a season came from the last 3 playoff seasons (2007 Valverde 47, 2011 Putz 45, 2017 Rodney 39)
- Since 2001, The Diamondbacks have won more World Series than the Dodgers
For more Todd Williams content follow him @goldyhappens on Twitter and subscribe, download and listen to the Fantasy Front Office Podcast.