With the news that the D-backs made an offer to Carlos Beltran before he signed with the Yankees, it looks like GM Kevin Towers is looking to make some moves at the earliest opportunity. Last week, we saw David Holmberg essentially sold to Cincinnati, freeing up about $6M in payroll with Heath Bell now setting up shop in Tampa Bay.
Close to Bell’s new address, the baseball industry has convened in Orlando for the winter meetings this week. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert posted a shopping list for the D-backs, with Towers expected to move for a corner bat and to continue to look for an impact starting pitcher.
Gilbert is right on that the pieces Towers is likely to market is an outfielder (probably A.J. Pollock or Adam Eaton, but possibly Gerardo Parra), a shortstop (Owings or Didi Gregorius, but possibly Cliff Pennington), and Tyler Skaggs. Only in the most extraordinary of circumstances would Archie Bradley be traded; in the team’s search for an ace, Bradley may even be the best choice in the near term. Arizona is likely to trade from its pitching depth, but Randall Delgado may have few suitors, and some of the other trade assets have low ceilings (Zeke Spruill, etc.). Remember, Braden Shipley cannot be traded until next June.
We expect to address news from the winter meetings as it comes in, but a few notes from last week and the weekend:
The signing of Robinson Cano by the Mariners has a chance to affect the D-backs, I think. SS Brad Miller and 2B/SS Nick Franklin are both guys with profiles similar to Chris Owings, and Seattle is likely to move one of them. With St. Louis signing Jhonny Peralta, one obvious destination for shortstops is now off the board. Some remain, like the New York Mets, but the number of teams who match up well for Owings is dwindling.
The Yankees are in the lead in the Omar Infante bidding to fill their new hole at second base, but with Cano gone, might the Yankees be interested in Aaron Hill or even Chris Owings? Personally, I don’t like the idea of trading Hill — if Arizona is obsessed with adding some power to the lineup, I don’t see how Hill’s could be replaced easily. Getting some power from an up-the-middle position like second base is not easy.
Speaking of adding power, I was a little disappointed that Texas managed to sign J.P. Arencibia for $2M to take a role as a backup catcher. Wil Nieves is gone, and I don’t think Tuffy Gosewisch is anything more than a third-stringer. Arencibia made tremendous strides with pitch framing after some instruction by Sal Fasano last summer, and even if he may only hit around the Mendoza line for the rest of his career, he does provide some pop. Again, if Arizona is motivated to add power to the roster, it may need to be creative with how it manages that.
One of the starting pitchers identified by Jeff last week is Brett Anderson, and the news is that is being shopped aggressively. As a guy likely to be above average whenever he does pitch, I think Anderson is a good fit for the D-backs, who have the depth to close ranks if Anderson missed time.
The Cubs are planning on doing some serious listening on Samardzija, according to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick. Still, the early word from the meetings is that the asking price remains high. Towers is on record as understanding what it would take to land Samardzija, and my feeling is that if he’s a guy Towers clearly wants, and it’s a price Towers is not willing to pay, then the price is almost definitely too high. As Jeff discussed last week, an addition of Samardzija might have only a smallish effect on Arizona’s win total in 2014.
Although Willie Bloomquist signed with Seattle, the D-backs don’t really need to replace him. They’ve already added Matt Tuaisosopo, and if a shortstop is traded, Cliff Pennington is still around to back up there and at second base.
On the power front, not that only 14 guys hit as many as 30 home runs last year — we may be talking about guys who might hit 20-25 (a category into which Matt Davidson might fall, by the way). Corey Hart is one of the few power hitters out there, but although he has experience in the outfield, having two recently-repaired knees probably makes him a better fit for a team that has some playing time available at first base. Raul Ibanez is pretty old, but he hit 29 bombs last year, and he could be an interesting guy for the D-backs, especially if he is willing to take a part time role (and get paid accordingly). Sluggers who may be available by trade are Mark Trumbo and Yoenis Cespedes — Jeff Wiser is going to address those possibilities imminently.
We posted a bunch of links in the past week, and we’ll continue to do so this week, as the offseason news comes in at a fever pitch. But don’t miss these, from the last week:
- Nick Piecoro addresses Tyler Skaggs and his availability — don’t miss this, as odds are that Skaggs will be involved in any major trade that Towers pulls off.
- Jim McLennan wonders if the D-backs dodged a bullet with Beltran signed with New York. Good question. Declining performance would have been a concern, and fitting him into the complicated outfield time share would have been one, too. I’m going to side with McLennan, although Thomas Lynch of Venom Strikes is not wrong that signing Beltran might have been nice, at least for 2014.
- McLennan also addressed the time share in the outfield. This is something Jeff and I talk about a lot — expect to hear more from us on it soon. In the meantime, I’m sticking with the playing time percentages I estimated a couple of months ago.
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