The biggest news in the last week is that Masahiro Tanaka accepted a contract offer from the New York Yankees, despite a significant offer from the Diamondbacks that would have been, far and away, the largest contract in Arizona history. Once that deal was final, Jeff Wiser took a look at where Arizona might go from here. Shortly after the Tanaka news came out, we heard that the Brewers had signed Matt Garza — it took until yesterday for that deal to become finalized, but he’s officially off the board, too.

Speaking only for myself, I wouldn’t mind if Arizona passed on the other “top” free agent pitchers. Ubaldo Jimenez has some real upside (would he take a very substantial one year deal as a “pillow plus” contract?), but it really does not seem as though any of the remaining free agent options would be better than Randall Delgado. The D-backs no longer have the depth they did last season to use an above-replacement pitcher if one of the five starters goes down at the outset of the season, but the team might as well be patient in waiting for Archie Bradley.

Speaking of Bradley, he came in 9th overall on the Baseball Prospectus top 101 prospect rankings that came out today (free access). That makes him the second-ranked pitcher overall, after only Taijuan Walker. As Jeff explained last week, Bradley is the consensus top prospect in the D-backs system. On all four of the top 10 rankings addressed by Jeff, Braden Shipley and Chris Owings rounded out Arizona’s top 3, but the lists were split evenly on which of the two players ranked higher. It wasn’t a surprise to Jeff that BP ranked Owings higher, because, as Jeff explained, Parks is “quite high on Chris Owings and thinks that he’s enough of a well-rounded player to be an above average big league regular.” There’s still a surprise in the top 101, however: for BP, Owings is the # 28 prospect in baseball. High praise. Be sure to check out Jeff’s piece on top 10 rankings.

Last week was one of Inside the ‘Zona’s finest, actually, in terms of content. In addition to Jeff’s three great articles I linked to above, Rod broke down Trevor Cahill’s recent performance, and my piece on the Australian Baseball League and how Arizona might make inroads in Australia was one of the more interesting posts I’ve written for the site (I think). We have a lot of fun writing this stuff.

On to the links:

  • Do not pass Go, do not collect $200: read Jerry Crasnick’s wonderful piece on the end stages of the Tanaka saga, and ramifications of the signing. Some good stuff from Kevin Towers in there.
  • At the main SweetSpot blog, David Schoenfield included an Arizona player among his ten breakout players to watch for 2014: Didi Gregorius. I don’t disagree with Schoenfield at all, but will Gregorius play enough for us to notice improvement? Also, given the range of opinions on Owings and the lack of consensus on Gregorius… can you think of another situation like this? I can’t recall any time when a team had two shortstops, almost the same age, with the thinking all over the map in terms of whether either of them could become above-average major leaguers. Oh, and if you missed it in the Australia post: Gregorius is one of the relatively few major leaguers to have spent some time in the re-started ABL.
  • Speaking of ABL players, Thomas Lynch at Venom Strikes checked in on Keon Broxton, who has been laboring there this offseason. Lynch also addressed Paul Goldschmidt’s first round win in the “Face of MLB” contest. Boy, was that an odd day for my Twitter feed.
  • At Snake Pit, Jim McLennan addresses the D-backs’ batting order. I’m definitely in agreement that, if there are standard orders, there be one for LHP and one for RHP. Parra could hit at or near the top of the order against RHP, but I agree he doesn’t belong there against LHP. We’ll see how he’s running in the spring, but for what it’s worth, I’d seriously consider hitting Cody Ross much higher in the order — he’s one of the team’s better hitters (against LHP and RHP), and batting him higher in the order might facilitate some double switch/defensive replacement substitutions. And, again, a lot depends on Miguel Montero.
  • Also by McLennan: the first in a series of posts on Arizona’s non-roster invitees. If you checked out Jeff’s prospects piece from last week, a handful of these names will look familiar. Willy Paredes is definitely one player I’ll be trying to check out.
  • Joe Jacquez of Venom Strikes seems to have made the connection first — in signing Shelley Duncan to a minor league deal, Arizona has reunited him with Dave Duncan.
  • Jeff Summers has a string of posts up at his redesigned site, including a preview of FanFest and a great reaction piece on what’s recently been done to Chase Field.
  • And here’s your reminder: spring training games start in less than a month. Here’s the full schedule.
 

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