The D-backs offseason continued at a whirlwind pace last week.  In fact, it was only shortly after last week’s roundup was posted that news of the Addison Reed-Matt Davidson trade with the White Sox came through.  A trade of Davidson was expected after he became blocked with the Mark Trumbo trade, but we heard no whisper of anything specific until the news came across — in part because some of the groundwork for the deal was laid during the Trumbo negotiations.

The afternoon that news of the Reed deal came across, I thought it was reasonable — in a vacuum, value was close, and Davidson was completely blocked.  The fact that blocking Davidson led to his trade at slightly below value, however, makes me a little more pessimistic about the Trumbo trade than I had been when it was completed.  In general, though I agree with our Jeff Wiser, who thought Reed-Davidson might be better than it looked at first glance.

Although the starting pitching market is still held up, a second reliever was in D-backs news this week: Brad Ziegler signed a contract extension that sets his 2014 salary at $4.5M, with a $5M salary for 2015 and a team option for $5.5M for 2016.  Ziegler was eligible for arbitration for the fourth year this year as a super-two player, and with MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projecting a $5M award, it looks like the D-backs will save a few dollars in 2014 (after which J.J. Putz comes off the books).  This extension looks like an enormous win for Towers because of the salary is low in comparison to Ziegler’s production, and because the option year gives the team an added layer of flexibility.  I want to do some more research before posting on this extension, but it bears repeating that even though I’m strongly in favor of young bullpens for a few reasons, I think Ziegler does warrant an exception, because ground ball % is a repeatable skill and because it seems not to cost nearly as much as a pitcher’s strikeout rate (the other main repeatable skill).

Lastly, Arizona also got Eric Chavez back in the fold.  A team that had Davidson playing most days and Prado playing a lot of third base had no role for Chavez; but with Prado the full-timer and Davidson gone, there’s a role for Chavez to play, even if it means less playing time than last year.

We may end up with a somewhat abbreviated schedule this week because of the holiday, but we will have some fresh content for you.  We also anticipate having some good Inside the ‘Zona news to announce soon, as well.

So with that, on to the links:

  • Nick Piecoro reacted to the Ziegler and Chavez contracts with a list of Towers’s top 3 transactions at the helm of the D-backs.  Hard to disagree with any of his selections.  I like to think of the impact of trades/signings separately (so even if the Bell-Holmberg trade was an 8 on a scale from 10 to -10, its impact was not very high), but I have to say Piecoro’s #2, in addition to being very smart, also probably leads the list on impact.
  • In a column, Piecoro also stepped back to look at the D-backs’ offseason plan, the perception of fans, and how recent moves fit with the moves from previous offseasons.  Jim McLennan at Snake Pit also wondered if the D-backs’ moves were enough to put them over the top.  If you missed Jeff Wiser’s thoughts on this topic, check them out here.
  • McLennan’s short post on the Ziegler extension is a good example of why he is such a great resource for D-backs fans — being so on top of everything for so long allows McLennan to make some great connections.  It’s just a pleasure to read that kind of stuff.
  • A couple more from McLennan I want to share.  His post on whether or not the D-backs should have signed Choo, rather than trading for Trumbo, is enlightening — particularly the result of the poll therein.  For me personally, there are a lot of moves (even mediocre ones) that I would have preferred to the Trumbo trade, so there’s that.  McLennan also checked in on the other big anticipated move for this offseason, wondering this morning how much the D-backs have to spend on a starting pitcher.  If Arizona is to sign a guy for about $15M a season, it’s hard to see them with an Opening Day payroll at less than $116M or so — and even that is not accounting for the additional major league minimum salaries that will be necessary as the season progresses.
  • At a redesigned Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch notes that the change to the posting fee procedure with Nippon Professional Baseball is a help to the D-backs.  His point is well taken — it’s definitely true that capping the posting fee at $20M gives Arizona a chance to compete for the pitcher (an uncapped fee would leave Arizona’s chances around 0%).  As Lynch concludes, the capped fee will allow the D-backs to “get into a real, live bidding war” — and I agree that Arizona’s chances have risen from zero, but maybe aren’t great overall.  As I explored a couple of weeks ago, Arizona’s disadvantage in this narrowed free agency market for Tanaka are still a little lower than they might be for a true free agent because posting dollars are “cheaper” for some teams than others.  The Yankees are favorites to land Tanaka if he’s posted, but I’ll side with others who have speculated that the Chicago Cubs may be the team who agrees on a contract with Tanaka in the end.
  • In another enjoyable read from Venom Strikes, Tyler Roberts discusses whether the more likely signing for Arizona is Matt Garza or Ubaldo Jimenez.  Good stuff here, although I might come out the other way.  I like the Jimenez upside, in part because it’s really upside that Arizona needs (we’ve got depth covered), even though Arizona could cover for gaps in Garza’s services better than most teams.  Yes, it would stink to lose the draft pick — but I think the perceived value of the draft pick could drive Jimenez’s price down a little, whereas the likelihood of injury won’t drive down Garza’s price as sufficiently.  I don’t have an analysis to back up those thoughts (yet), however…
  • At Sports Injury Alert, Richard Migliorisi discussed some possible warning signs with Reed.  I think we’ll all be keeping a close eye on Reed’s velocity at the outset of 2014.
  • At FanGraphs, Jeff Sullivan weighed in on the Reed-Davidson trade.  I think Sullivan’s take is similar to that of the rest of the industry — it was a very reasonable move, but Towers doesn’t get extra credit for pulling it off.
  • At AZ Central, Zach Buchanan covered the Reed-Davidson trade as well.  Interesting comments from Reed himself, who clearly wants to be the closer.  As I wrote last week, it’d be Putz at closer if the decision were up to me.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law analyzed both ends of Reed-Davidson (subscription required).  This is basically where I landed last week, so I agree with Law when he says that the D-backs “continue to trade away assets based not on their market values but on their own internal opinions of what those players are.”  Also at ESPN, SweetSpot’s David Schoenfield noted that in the wake of two trades with the D-backs, the White Sox had put together a pretty good offseason (no subscription required).
  • Can’t say enough about this Baseball Prospectus take on Reed-Davidson by Sam Miller and Ben Carsley (subscription required).  Background on Towers’s history in bullpen-building in San Diego is highly pertinent, and addressed very well there.
  • Lastly — check out this clip from MLB Network of an interview with Matt Davidson — that gets crashed by Addison Reed.  Also: if Matt Davidson’s hair is any indication, his career might be a good one.  Good luck to him.

Happy Holidays, everyone.  Thanks for reading.


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