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NL West offseason review 2013: Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks weren't able to repeat as division winners in 2012. Will the National League West's busiest team of the offseason contend in 2013?

"No yawning on my watch."
"No yawning on my watch."
Christian Petersen

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.

Arizona Diamondbacks
2012 Record: 81-81
Division Finish:
Third Place
2013 at Dodger Stadium:
May 6-8, Jun. 10-12, Sept. 9-11
2013 Dodgers at Chase Field: Apr. 12-14, Jul. 8-10, Sept. 16-19
SB Nation coverage: AZ Snakepit

Five Questions

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."

Offseason Moves

Diamondbacks Trades, Etc. This Winter
Team Traded Acquired
Marlins, Athletics Chris Young cf
Cliff Pennington ss
Heath Bell rhp
$8 million
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
Pos Player New Team
RHP Takashi Saito retirement
RHP Matt Lindstrom White Sox
1B Lars Anderson White Sox^
C Henry Blanco Blue Jays
3B Josh Bell White Sox*
RHP Sam Demel Astros^
SS Jake Elmore Astros^
C Konrad Schmidt Rangers^
LHP Mike Zagurski Pirates*
IF Cody Ransom Padres*
*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
C Miguel Montero 29 $10,000,000
1B Paul Goldschmidt
team control
2B Aaron Hill
3B Martin Prado
SS Cliff Pennington 29 $2,250,000
LF Jason Kubel
CF Adam Eaton
24 team control
RF Cody Ross 32
3B Eric Chavez 35 $3,000,000
IF/OF Willie Bloomquist 35 $1,900,000
IF John McDonald
OF Gerardo Parra 25 $2,350,000
OF/1B Eric Hinske
C Wil Nieves
SP Ian Kennedy 28 $4,265,000
SP Brandon McCarthy 29 $6,500,000
SP Trevor Cahill
SP Wade Miley
team control
SP Patrick Corbin 23 team control
CL J.J. Putz 36 $6,500,000
RHP Brad Ziegler
33 $3,150,000
RHP David Hernandez 28
LHP Tony Sipp 29 $1,275,000
LHP Matt Reynolds
team control
RHP Heath Bell 35 $5,000,000
Totals (20 players)
*Age as of June 30, 2013