The Arizona Diamondbacks were by far the most prolific movers and shakers in the National League West during the offseason, with four trades and a flurry of contracts. With their vastly different outfield and newly fortified bullpen and starting rotation, look for Arizona to contend again for a playoff spot in 2013.
|2013 at Dodger Stadium:
||May 6-8, Jun. 10-12, Sept. 9-11|
|2013at Chase Field:||Apr. 12-14, Jul. 8-10, Sept. 16-19|
|SB Nation coverage:||AZ Snakepit|
1) Will Arizona rue the day they dumped Upton?
General manager Kevin Towers seemed determined to deal Justin Upton for most of the offseason, though maybe it was simply Towers' willingness to talk on record so often about interest in the outfielder. Towers eventually did trade Upton on Jan. 24 to the Braves in a seven-player deal, with Martin Prado and pitcher Randall Delgado highlighting the return for Arizona.
My gut says Arizona will live to regret trading away Upton, just 25, who was signed for three years at an all-too-reasonable $38.5 million. But it could pay off for the Diamondbacks.
Prado is not the hitter that Upton is, but he plays all over the field. Prado had more wins above replacement than Upton last year (5.4 to 2.1 using Baseball-Reference, 5.9 to 2.5 using Fangraphs) and in the last three years combined Prado led Upton 12.1 to 9.2 using B-R and was nearly equal, 11.8 to 11.9 using Fangraphs, with a ton of the difference on defense.
Prado, 29, signed a four-year extension with the Diamondbacks that bought out three years of free agency, and has hit .300 in four of the last five years, hitting .296/.346/.438 during that span. But what if another 2011 (.260/.302/.385) pops up, the one year of the last five that Prado didn't top a .320 batting average on balls in play?
But that might be unfair to Prado, who has proven to be a valuable and versatile player over the last few years. And the Diamondbacks are likely to receive value out of Delgado, who turns 23 on Saturday and was a top-50 prospect prior to both 2011 and 2012. So maybe the Diamondbacks' trade of Upton will work out for them just fine, or at the very least isn't as bad as I initially thought.
2) Does Prado have the intensity the Diamondbacks desire?
Maybe the most distasteful part of the Upton trade was the seeming desire to get rid of Upton, who for all intents and purposes should have been the face of the Diamondbacks franchise. Then there was this article by Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports which showed why Upton didn't fit with manager Kirk Gibson:
"The problem is that he didn’t play with a high level of energy," said the former teammate, who spoke on the condition that he would not be identified. "What I think they want is guys who play with the speed, energy and intensity of the Oregon football team — all out, all the time.
"Justin doesn’t have that kind of attitude; he has a quiet intensity that doesn’t fit the mold of what KT and Gibby seem to want. He plays hard, but has to look suave doing it. Slamming into walls isn’t his thing, and they will accept nothing short of all-out sacrifice for the team."
So apparently what the Diamondbacks want are players who show outward intensity, but also are afraid to go on record.
Whatever the reason, the trade was made, as was sending precocious yet reportedly difficult top prospect Trevor Bauer out of town. The clear message here is that it's Towers' and Gibson's way or the highway.
3) Will Arizona miss Hudson?
Sure, Daniel Hudson will be missed, as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last July. But even without Hudson, who won 16 games in 2011, and the traded Bauer, the Diamondbacks still have great depth in their pitching staff. Incoming starter Brandon McCarthy slots nicely in the rotation, with the fifth starter spot up for grabs between a trio of talented youngsters in Delgado (23), Patrick Corbin (23), and Tyler Skaggs (21), with the 20-year-old Archie Bradley on the horizon. It appears that Arizona still has arms in abundance.
4) Is Eaton ready to take over center field?
Upton wasn't the only outfielder traded by Arizona this offseason, as center fielder Chris Young was shipped to Oakland as part of a three-team trade that netted the Diamondbacks shortstop Cliff Pennington, embattled reliever Heath Bell, and cash. Young was considered expendable because of Adam Eaton, who hit .259/.382/.412 in 22 games in his major league debut in 2012.
Eaton was rated the Diamondbacks' third best prospect by Baseball America, behind pitchers Skaggs and Bradley, and was identified by the publication as being the best hitter for average, fastest runner, and having the best outfield arm in the organization.
Eaton, 24, will man center field and bat leadoff for the Diamondbacks, and could be the key to their success.
5) Webb really was awesome, wasn't he?
Yes. Brandon Webb was at or near the top of the pitching heap in his prime with the Diamondbacks, which is why it was sad when the 33-year-old retired last week. Did you know that Webb is the owner of the longest scoreless innings streak since Orel Hershiser's record of 59 straight in 1988?
Webb pitched 42 consecutive scoreless innings in 2007, including three straight shutouts to finish off the streak. Jim McClennan at AZ Snake Pit fondly remembered the streak on Tuesday:
All the while, Webb was his usual calm and unassuming self: "I don't know," he said after the Atlanta shutout. "I'm not even thinking about it. It hasn't consumed me at all... Right now, I'm like, it's pretty sweet, but after I do it, it's like, 'Oh my gosh. Three shutouts in a row.' I couldn't believe it. But now I have to focus on the next game."
|Diamondbacks Trades, Etc. This Winter|
|Marlins, Athletics||Chris Young cf
||Cliff Pennington ss
Heath Bell rhp
|Rockies||Ryan Wheeler 3b||Matt Reynolds rhp|
|Indians, Reds||Trevor Bauer rhp
Matt Albers rhp
Bryan Shaw rhp
Didi Gregorius ss
Tony Sipp lhp
Lars Anderson 1b
|Braves||Justin Upton rf
Chris Johnson 3b
|Martin Prado if/of
Randall Delgado rhp
Nick Ahmed ss
Zeke Spruill rhp
Brandon Drury 3b
|Cubs||Rule 5 (minors)||Starlin Peralta rhp|
Long term, the Diamondbacks are betting on Gregorius, considered a plus defender at shortstop.
|Diamondbacks Contracts Signed This Winter|
|Pos||Player||Type||Total Contract||2013 Salary|
|RHP||J.J. Putz||opt/ext||1 yr, $6.5m; 1 yr, $7m||$6.5 million|
|C||Wil Nieves||FA||1 yr, $800k||$800,000|
|OF/1B||Eric Hinske||FA||1 yr, $1.35m||$1.35 million|
|3B||Eric Chavez||FA||1 yr, $3m||$3 million|
|RHP||Brandon McCarthy||FA||2 yrs, $15.5m||$6.5 million*|
|OF||Cody Ross||FA||3 yrs, $26m||$8 million*|
|SP||Ian Kennedy||arb||1 yr, $4.265m||$4,265,000|
|RP||Brad Ziegler||arb||1 yr, $3.15m||$3,150,000|
|3B||Chris Johnson||arb||1 yr, $2.2875m||$2,287,500|
|RP||Tony Sipp||arb||1 yr, $1.275m||$1,275,000|
|OF||Gerardo Parra||arb||1 yr, $2.35m||$2,350,000|
|SS||Cliff Pennington||arb||2 yrs, $5m||$2,250,000*|
|3B/OF||Martin Prado||ext||4 yrs, $40m||$7,000,000|
|*including signing bonus|
Ross was the most surprising move of the bunch at the time, but considering the Upton trade was more understandable. Putz had his option exercised on Oct. 20, then signed a one-year, $7 million extension for 2014. Arizona also signed Mark Teahen, Jeremy Reed, and Brad Snyder, among others, to minor league contracts.
|Diamondbacks Players Lost|
|RHP||Matt Lindstrom||White Sox|
|1B||Lars Anderson||White Sox^|
|C||Henry Blanco||Blue Jays|
|3B||Josh Bell||White Sox*|
|*Minor league deal; ^waivers
Here's my guess as to the Diamondbacks' 25-man roster, with a few assumptions mixed in:
|2013 Diamondbacks Under Contract|
|Pos||Player||2013 Age*||2012 Salary|
|SP||Patrick Corbin||23||team control|
|Totals (20 players)
|*Age as of June 30, 2013