The Diamondbacks had the worst record in all of Major League Baseball in 2014. Fixing a team that lost a league leading 98 games last season is difficult. It’s even more difficult when the team doesn’t have a bunch of cash to spend in attempts to upgrade the roster. Just like last year, the Diamondbacks find themselves in a position with little leverage and few resources. Creativity is a must for the D-backs this offseason.

To think that Arizona will go from 64-win team to division winner in just one offseason is rather unrealistic. Instead, the team should take a measured approach, shedding payroll, creating roster flexibility, and acquiring future major league assets that are nearly ready for big league trials. There are a number of players who will get healthy and return to action at some point next year and they’re going to need spots on the active roster. A roster with flexibility is a must for Arizona to evaluate young players while providing room for soon-to-be-healthy investments to get back to action.

The only way to free up space, both from a financial and roster standpoint, is to trade assets. Unfortunately, we’re going to have to accept a pretty broad definition of the word “asset” here, as some of Arizona’s “assets” could be considered toxic to some teams, the Diamondbacks included. So they’ll have to be willing to eat some contract money and accept paltry, yet strategic, returns in order to pull off these deals. On the free agent front, the team should not look to be an active player. They don’t need upgrades in many areas with the exception of starting pitching, and even then, the team should target a short-term deal with a pitcher who represents a high risk/high reward proposition.

We present the Inside the ‘Zona 2014-2015 Offseason Plan (Ed: also, check out Episode 6 of The Pool Shot for more explanation):

Trade Aaron Hill and $8M to the Nationals for RHP Taylor Jordan

Trade Miguel Montero and $10M to the Pirates for RHP Nick Kingham and C Tony Sanchez

Trade Trevor Cahill and $6M to the White Sox for LHP Scott Snodgress

Offer RHP Brandon Morrow a one-year, $6.5M contract

Offer RHP Chad Billingsley a one-year, $5M contract with a $11M option, $250,000 buyout

Tender contracts to David Hernandez and Cliff Pennington

Sign CF A.J. Pollock to a five-year, $34M extension (with a $12M option/$1M buyout)

Trades

Aaron Hill and $8M to Nationals for RHP Taylor Jordan

Deciding to trade Aaron Hill is not a simple matter; he’s been a very productive player at times, is a good bet to provide above-average offense at an up-the-middle position next year, and has a bit of flexibility the D-backs could find very useful. We like him as part of a four-man, three-position time share with Didi Gregorius getting as many starts against RHP as possible — and as few against LHP as possible. Hill’s willingness and apparent ability to play a little third base facilitates that, and while Jake Lamb hasn’t shown a platoon split in the minors, it doesn’t hurt that Hill can cover if Lamb begins to struggle against lefties. We’ve settled on trading Hill largely because of financial reasons; the team is already $7M or so over its target budget for 2015, and it seems to us that the D-backs will lose out on other promising opportunities if they do not move some payroll.

Actually trading Hill is not a simple matter, either. The Yankees could need a second baseman, but the other teams with obvious holes (Marlins, Orioles, Nationals, Blue Jays, Braves) are supposedly committed to rising or recent prospects. We like the Nationals as a target for Hill; manager Matt Williams is likely to remember Hill at his best, and the Nationals can probably fit Hill into their budget next year, although they face a budget crunch the year after. More importantly, the Nationals have shown dissatisfaction in the past with default second baseman Danny Espinosa, who is taking over for Anthony Rendon, who is taking over for Ryan Zimmerman, who is taking over for free agent Adam LaRoche.

The Nationals also seem like a good match because they may have pitching to trade. With Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez and Doug Fister locking up rotation spots (unless one is traded), recent revelation Tanner Roark may slide into the fifth spot. That could make it difficult for the Nationals to use 26 year old Blake Treinen or 25 year old Taylor Jordan in their rotation next year, and with Ross Detwiler in the bullpen, they’ll still have some depth if they move Treinen or Jordan. We would suggest that the D-backs go after Treinen, with Jordan the fall back. Both pitchers are old to be considered “prospects,” and while they both have some upside, they need an actual chance to try to cut it at the major league level. Treinen’s floor might be helpful reliever, lessening the risk even more. Jordan, however, does not have knockout stuff (5.35 K/9 in 77.1 MLB innings) and is projected by Steamer as a fringe average starter (4.03 FIP). We believe he is still promising enough to push Trevor Cahill out of the picture completely, or Josh Collmenter to the bullpen. If Jordan is still too much for the Nationals for just Hill, we’d support slightly increasing the cash considerations, or the inclusion of a low-level D-backs prospect.

Miguel Montero and $10M to the Pirates for RHP Nick Kingham and C Tony Sanchez

Saying the Diamondbacks are without trade chips is inaccurate. Plenty of teams would line up to acquire Paul Goldschmidt or Archie Bradley, but they’re obviously part of Arizona’s future and not up for discussion. Miguel Montero, on the other hand, is definitely a valuable trade asset and the best player the D-backs can and should deal this winter.

Playing right into the Diamondbacks’ hands is the fact that there are virtually no good catchers available on the market for teams right now. The best available catcher, Russell Martin, signed with the Blue Jays last week, and behind him, Montero is easily the next best available option. A handful of clubs could use an upgrade behind the dish, two coming from the NL Central. The Cubs were rumored to narrowly miss out on Martin, and there’s been some chatter about them being a potential trade partner for Arizona in exchange for Montero. But I think it’s Martin’s recent team which is the best fit.

The Pirates lost Martin to free agency and somewhat filled the hole by acquiring Francisco Cervelli from the Yankees as a good defender who doesn’t hit much. With that move already complete, the Pirates were still willing to bring Martin back, and although they missed out on him, they match up with the Diamondbacks far better than the Cubs do. Arizona needs pitching and the Cubs don’t have much of it. Arizona would also do well to bring back a catcher to take the load off of Tuffy Gosewisch, who should remain a backup.

The Pirates, on the other hand, have plenty of pitching and catching depth. They may not be comfortable taking on all of Montero’s $40 million in remaining salary. A deal could nonetheless get done around right-handed pitcher Nick Kingham and catcher Tony Sanchez, with Arizona eating $10 million. Kingham slots right behind the Big Three D-backs pitchers in the minors (with an ETA in 2016) and Sanchez is a major league ready catcher with limited big league experience who can help fill Montero’s void right now. He’s good enough to warrant a serious audition in the majors but isn’t someone the organization has to plan around. Kingham has very real upside and Sanchez is a lottery ticket with a chance to pay off. This is what Arizona needs: payroll flexibility and a younger roster built to will win in the near future.

Trevor Cahill and $6M to the White Sox for LHP Scott Snodgress

Trevor Cahill is weighing this team down and taking up a valuable roster spot. His salary isn’t helping things and potentially expires at the end of the year. He’s owed $12 million in 2015, then has a 2016 team option for $13 million with a $300,000 buyout. Unless he turns a major corner, that option is getting turned down, meaning that whomever is going to pay Trevor Cahill in 2015 is likely to owe him $12.3 million.

But that’s just the thing: whomever is paying him is likely to be two teams, and in this scenario, that’s exactly the case. The D-backs would do well to move him but will have to eat some salary to do so. While there are several teams that could be a fit for Cahill, including the Royals, A’s, Astros, Rangers and others, in the end, the Diamondbacks should deal him and $6 million to the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago is a perfect fit for Cahill as he was below average as a starter but surprisingly effective as a reliever. The pitching bar is set pretty low in Chicago aside from Chris Sale and Jose Quintana, so Cahill can become the team’s fourth starter or jump to the bullpen where he’d immediately be one of their best relievers. And, should he improve, the rebuilding White Sox could choose to exercise his option and keep him around. The White Sox don’t have a lot to send back to the Diamondbacks in the deal, but that’s fine as Arizona is simply interested in clearing the salary and the roster spot. In exchange for Cahill, the White Sox send SP/RP Scott Snodgress to Arizona where he’ll be used as bullpen arm and can begin the season at Triple-A Reno. In this deal, the Diamondbacks would clear salary, free a roster spot and give them a left-handed bullpen asset to add to their impressive collection of young, right-handed relief arms.

Free Agent Offers

$6.5M, 1-year offer to RHP Brandon Morrow

Morrow has never really gathered any momentum as a pitcher. After the Mariners used him as a reliever, he fared very well for a time as a starter with the Blue Jays — but he’s pitched just 87.2 innings in the last two years. Morrow may be on the lookout for a longer deal, especially if he has lingering worries about injury. And unfortunately, given Chase Field and the other pitchers’ recent lack of success with the D-backs, he may not be willing to sign with the team on a one-year deal to reestablish his value. But he might. And if he does, the D-backs should be there with an offer, no greater than $6.5M. Morrow fits the D-backs extremely well as a third-tier pitching target, as we explored a few weeks ago. We would much rather add a pitcher who comes with a primary risk of injury, rather than a primary risk of not pitching well. With reinforcements like Patrick Corbin, Daniel Hudson and Archie Bradley strong possibilities by midseason, the D-backs can handle a high-risk option like Morrow.

$5M, 1-year offer with option to RHP Chad Billingsley

We like Billingsley, if not quite as much as GM Dave Stewart appears to love him. Stewart has been saying all the right things about Billingsley’s likely readiness for 2015. It’s hard to distill the truth from Stewart’s comments; as we examined a month ago, Stew is in a difficult position. As Billingsley’s agent up until a couple of months ago, Stewart will be thought of as knowing a lot about Billingsley. Unfortunately, that means he will harm his old client if he does not appear interested in signing him; he fits the team’s needs too well for lack of interest to be blamed on lack of fit. And on the flip side, Stewart could be exposed to a lot of criticism if he is perceived as signing Billingsley for too high a salary.

Nonetheless, Billingsley fits the D-backs right now in exactly the way that Morrow does. Reinforcements are on the way, and there are decent backup options, even for April. The pitching baseline is mediocre, but not terrible; therefore if Billingsley steps in and pitches like an average or above-average pitcher, he’ll be helping in a big way; if he gets signed and doesn’t pitch to those levels, the D-backs will not be totally lost.

An option could help the deal work for both sides. If Billingsley succeeds in rebuilding his value with a solid year, the D-backs will have done him a pretty big favor, and it seems to us that it would be highly likely that Dave Stewart signs him to a new deal. But that new deal would carry a ton of risk, even after one good, healthy season. To prevent that, we’d love to see Billingsley signed to a contract with a relatively high salary (perhaps $11M) and a very low buyout (perhaps $250k). The high salary should make the option work for Billingsley; the low buyout would make the option a good buy for the club. If he’s worth $11M next season, this move will look fantastic, but not as though the club had taken advantage of the pitcher.

Tender Decisions

The D-backs are faced with only two tender decisions of consequence: whether to tender contracts to David Hernandez and Cliff Pennington.

We like both players. David Hernandez has a history of dominating opponents, and the only blemishes on that record are a season missed to Tommy John surgery, from which he should be recovered in or around April 2015, and a mediocre 2013. Even that underwhelming season can be explained away, however; as we’ve taken frequent note of here, it’s difficult or impossible for a reliever to get “fixed” during a season, because there’s no opportunity to throw side sessions or take extra batting practice like there is for other players. But once Hernandez got that opportunity — in a demotion to Triple A Reno that August — he returned as dominant as ever. The decision is far from simple, and there are reasons to not tender Hernandez a contract. All in all, however, we like making Hernandez a $2M offer. If the team is open to getting truly creative, it might try giving itself a reasonable option for 2016, the first season for which Hernandez would be a free agent.

As alluded to above and explained below, we like a four-man, three-position approach to second, third, and shortstop. One of the benefits of that approach is that it limits plate appearances for true backups. That poses something of a problem for Cliff Pennington.

We have suggested that the team trade Aaron Hill, however, and in that event, Pennington becomes extremely useful again. It would fall squarely on Pennington’s shoulders to platoon with Didi Gregorius — and that would be an excellent platoon. That is reason enough to tender Pennington a contract and expect to pay him around $3.3M. Having Pennington in the fold will also allow the D-backs to explore trading Hill for as long as they think is appropriate in this offseason. By spring, teams will have a need for someone of Pennington’s skills, and for reasonable dollars on a limited risk one year deal, teams may even be willing to trade something of value to get him.

Extensions

Sign CF A.J. Pollock to a 5-year, $34M contract extension with a $12M option ($1M buyout)

Outside of Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks only have one real offensive star, and that’s A.J. Pollock. We explored this idea in full a few weeks back, but the Diamondbacks should sign Pollock to an extension this offseason, one that keeps him under team control through his age 31 season, with an option to keep him under control for an additional year should the team wish to exercise it. As far as smart baseball is concerned, locking up young talent should be a top priority for every major league team, especially those with significant payroll restraints. Pollock and the Diamondbacks certainly fall into that category.

A five-year, $34 million extension with an additional option year ($12 million option, $1 million buyout) should appease both sides. It guarantees Pollock $7 million per season for five years, which is essentially the cost of a one-win player to the Diamondbacks. Instead, Pollock should remain closer to a three or four win player going forward, which represents a steal for Arizona but provides Pollock with his first fortune and life-long financial security. Pollock could also be persuaded to agree because the length of the deal will still allow him to hit the open market while still in his prime, before his decline phase sets in hard.

Roster Alignment


Rotation

With Trevor Cahill moving on, Patrick Corbin and Bronson Arroyo still recovering from Tommy John surgeries and top prospect Archie Bradley opening 2015 in AAA Reno, the Diamondbacks rotation is unlikely to be a strength at the beginning of the season. But, three remaining D-backs above should all see the rotation at some point in time, creating a sort of desert-themed game of musical chairs in the big league rotation. This isn’t entirely unlike what was seen last season, although the results should be better, if only by a small margin.

Wade Miley, Jeremy Hellickson and Josh Collmenter should occupy the first three slots in the rotation on Opening Day, joined by either Brandon Morrow or Chad Billingsley, if either pitcher accepts an offer from the team. With or without the addition of Morrow or Billingsley, that group is very clearly missing an “ace,” but there are bound to be a bunch of solid, dependable outings. Behind them, Chase Anderson should be the next option to round out the rotation, with Taylor Jordan the man who is in or out based on Morrow/Billingsley and his spring training performance. Vidal Nuno is either the 6th starter or the 7th.

Patrick Corbin should rejoin the Diamondbacks by some point in June, perhaps before. Bronson Arroyo should be available in July, and given the opportunity to rejoin the rotation if a spot is available. Archie Bradley is a complete and total wild card, but his performance will dictate his role in 2015. Daniel Hudson should start the year in relief, but should be given an opportunity to rejoin the rotation in July as long as there is an opportunity — even ahead of Arroyo, if there is just one spot available. Even Aaron Blair, who has made quick minor league progress, could earn a shot late in the season. Did we mention musical chairs?

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Bullpen

The depth that the D-backs have accumulated in relievers is almost embarrassing, and it would not be surprising if other teams targeted some of this talent in trade during the offseason. A few spots seem set: Addison Reed will close, Brad Ziegler will set up if he returns successfully from microfracture surgery in his knee, Oliver Perez will continue in a similar role, and Randall Delgado (who is out of options) will stick as the long reliever.

Assuming the club carries 12 pitchers, that only leaves spots for three more relievers. And the list of candidates is long: Evan Marshall, Daniel Hudson, Matt Reynolds, Eury de la Rosa, David Hernandez, Matt Stites, Andrew Chafin, and three other relievers put on the 40-man roster within the last two weeks: Kevin Munson, Enrique Burgos, and Will Locante. The presence of the latter three on the 40-man make them the likeliest callups from the minors, but the team also has Jake Barrett, Kaleb Fleck and Jimmie Sherfy waiting in the wings as potential average-or-better relievers.

We think Marshall, Reynolds, and Daniel Hudson are the best bets for the final three spots in the bullpen, with David Hernandez almost assured a spot once fully rehabbed. Depending on his control in spring training, Matt Stites might be the next candidate, although he can still be put on optional assignment. Eury de la Rosa will also wait at Triple-A Reno with Munson and Burgos, forming a quartet of candidates to be shuttled in and out of Phoenix as roster rules permit. By midseason, injuries will almost certainly prompt promotions, although Barrett, Fleck and Sherfy are likely to wait longer than they’d like. The possible departure of Daniel Hudson to the rotation by midseason (a plan we suggest and fully support) could also open another opportunity.

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Infield

Paul Goldschmidt is the team’s first baseman, but it’s Mark Trumbo who should be his backup at first base. Whatever Trumbo loses in “confidence” by not playing in right field for each and every start will be made up by the fact that on days he plays first base, he will be nowhere near the black hole he seems likely to be in right. If Miguel Montero is not traded, that’s another spot locked down; if he is traded, then the team would do well to re-install Bobby Wilson behind the major league plate, sharing time with the surprisingly useful Tuffy Gosewisch. Should the trade to the Pirates work out, Tony Sanchez will soon seize a starting role anyway.

The rest of the infield is the real puzzle, but we believed we’ve solved it with an unconventional time share. the 4-man, 3-position share is explained at length in this post, but briefly: Didi Gregorius can’t hit left-handed pitching. At all. He needs a platoon partner, and as noted above, if Hill is traded, Cliff Pennington is the perfect small half of that platoon. If Hill is not traded, then Gregorius will essentially platoon in for slightly-more-than-rest days for Chris Owings (playing short and second), Aaron Hill (playing second and occasionally third), and Jake Lamb (third). Owings, Hill, and Lamb would each start about 80% of games, with Gregorius starting in just 60% of games (against RHP).

We believe Jake Lamb deserves a chance to establish himself as a major league starter with at least a full season at third base. Although he played ever-so-briefly at the Triple-A level, Lamb has absolutely spanked the ball everywhere he has played. The power may come, but even if it does not, squaring the ball up both vertically and horizontally is the hardest thing in professional sports to do — and Lamb’s ridiculously high batting averages on balls in play in the minors suggest that he has an uncommon ability to hit line drives. It may take time, but the D-backs need not keep looking at their watch; seeing if Lamb will develop will be the best use of third base starts possible until Brandon Drury is ready to play in the majors — at which point, it may be time to make a new decision.

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Outfield

The outfield appears pretty much set, at least to start the major league season. Center field belongs to A.J. Pollock so long as he’s healthy and capable. He’s proven to be league average as a hitter at worst with a great chance to be well above offensively. The defense is better than average, too; coupled with the production at the plate, that makes Pollock one of Arizona’s best assets. Behind him, Ender Inciarte can certainly man center but is lighter with the bat. Still, he’s a more-than-viable option there, although he may not turn heads the way Action Jackson does.

Things get hazy in the corners as they have essentially four guys for two spots. According to GM Dave Stewart, Mark Trumbo will take his abhorrent defense to right field to “build confidence” and David Peralta and Ender Inciarte will split time in left. Chip Hale would have to decide between good offense and okay defense (Peralta) or okay offense and good defense (Inciarte). This is a very poor alignment for multiple reasons, not least that as left-handed hitters, Peralta and Inciarte cannot be platooned effectively. If the Diamondbacks are watching closely and putting new Analytics Director Dr. Ed Lewis to work, this experiment shouldn’t last all that long.

We strongly believe in an alternative: pairing Trumbo and Inciarte in left field to form a lefty-righty platoon with the added benefit of defensive flexibility. Peralta should get the bulk of playing time in right with Cody Ross spelling him on occasion and helping to form another lefty-righty platoon to maximize offense. These two platoons are very viable and no one here is making so much money that they can’t play part time (except maybe Ross who’s physically limited). For Arizona to maximize the number of wins they collect, they should maximize the favorable opportunities for their personnel.

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Conclusion

The Diamondbacks could surprise in 2015. Most positions on the roster already have starters firmly entrenched, and in many respects that is a good thing. But the club will also have to hold the course in 2015, without resort to acquisitions from outside the organization. If young players like Jake Lamb and Chase Anderson perform toward the high end of their possible outcomes, the D-backs will do very well. But because Lamb, Anderson and others have nowhere to go if they struggle, and because they need major league time for the D-backs to discover what kind of players they truly are, if things get bad they could get really bad.

It still will be a season of change, especially with waves of pitching returning or being promoted for the first time during the course of the year. If all goes right, the club will get almost continuous injections of fresh talent and solid contributions.

The transactions suggested above fit with that outlook on 2015. In many ways, they enable that outlook; it may be that only by trading Hill can the team see what it has in Gregorius, Owings and Lamb. It may be that a changing of the guard at catcher may mean new and less rigid pitching plans, with increased production from the pitching staff to match. We realize that most of the transactions suggested above may be easier said than done; still, we’d like for the team to be as proactive as possible this winter, as in considering the installment of a humidor and committing to an aggressive spending plan for international amateurs. In the coming weeks, we will address some auxiliary plans we considered in this plan’s formulation. More than anything else, however, if the club adheres to the spirit of the suggestions above, we have nothing but optimism about this team going forward.

 

17 Responses to The Inside the ‘Zona 2014-2015 Offseason Plan

  1. Cole Joseph says:

    Interesting ideas. It all makes fiscal sense too. I’m curious what this sets the team up to do the following offseason? I know that’s a LONG ways away with plenty of things happening in between but surely you’ve given it some thought?

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Thanks, Cole!

      One problem is that the team doesn’t have a long-term payroll level in mind, exactly. Last year things were supposed to happen, we had that huge balloon in payroll, and it all seemed designed to drive up interest just in time for the impending TV deal, which, from what I understand, might run for a 15 year period or so. I can see wanting to sell the TV rights high, so to speak.

      But the team does not seem as willing to ride things out as others might; the drop in payroll this year was linked by the team to last season’s poor performance.

      That’s a long way of saying: I think the most difficult thing about looking a year ahead is payroll. The new TV money may kick in, but it may or may not get translated to an increased payroll; maybe the team is more strapped for cash than we think.

      I would expect more change next offseason than this offseason, but that’s mostly because of internal assets. Almost no one comes off the books at the end of 2015; just Pennington, Hernandez and Perez, none of whom are building blocks. Seems highly likely that Ross and Arroyo won’t have their options exercised, so I guess you can add them, although neither one is likely to make a big impact in 2015.

      I know what we plan to do… if the team is in the NL West basement by the end of June, we’re going to be campaigning hard for the team to trade Trumbo. That could be revisited in the offseason, and I would expect that to be the case. Maybe Ed Lewis and the new FO-by-committee will take a harder look at Trumbo as an asset, note that he may not even be worth what he’ll get in his final year of arbitration, and look to add someone else who actually can be a building block in right or left or in the rotation.

      A man can dream…

      It might not be sexy, but other than some of the youngsters taking over, I don’t see a lot of change before 2017. And that’s a good thing, IMHO. You probably know that we don’t think Towers valued players properly when it came to trades. But put that totally aside — I think even Towers would agree that he had to pay a transaction cost every time he made a move because he was the one trying to make a move happen (I think Thatcher/IPK is the best example of that). Sometimes you can lose a little value and get better. But I think once you start making moves, you’re going to lose; it’s like gambling at a casino. The house will win.

      The Cardinals just swung that trade for Jason Heyward and they made a couple of moves for pitchers last year, but I’d still hold them out as an example of what you can do if you don’t look to make changes if you don’t have to. The D-backs are lined up with a pretty good core, and the team’s fortunes could increase quite a lot with an extra shrewd move or two. Holding pat except for just one or two well-calculated gambles is probably the best way to the postseason. Otherwise, I think the only moves we’ll see the team make will concern guys controlled for just a year or two.

      • Cole Joseph says:

        I agree with all that. I’ve never been a huge fan of upgrading through trades. Towers certainly proved my feelings right on that. How would you feel about them adding via FA next year? And I mean a little more extravagantly then they figure to this year.
        It has been strange though because on one hand they want to lower the payroll and then you hear that they are dark horses for Tomas or Maeda and they want to “make waves” on the international market.

        • Ryan P. Morrison says:

          Yeah, we will explore that soon. The team wanted to be good to increase the TV deal to have more money to spend, but no matter what, there should be more money.

          We’ll still deal with some uncertainty, because we won’t know what Shipley or Blair can be at the MLB level, and there won’t be a lot of roster turnover. But having an almost-complete roster that is pretty good but not amazing is arguably the best possible time to spend big on a top free agent.

          We’re on the same page. I hope they do make waves internationally within the next year — but on the amateur side.

  2. HowardNeal says:

    Great summation…

    I’d say the D-Backs will have to chip in at least 10-million with A. Hill if they expect to receive any value in return, mostly on account of his lagging defense. I think Hill’s hitting could rebound a bit (a 700 OPS? maybe 725…).

    I might be okay with a Billingsley and/or Morrow type if the price is right and Stewart would be willing to trade either before the deadline (if they happen to reestablish value).

    And I think the D-Backs only chance to acquire pitching value would be through a Montero trade (per your example).

    I’d also consider trading Addison Reed and DFA-ing Cody Ross, while giving Trumbo and Cahill a chance to reestablish value, and then trade them as quickly as possible if they do so.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Thanks!

      Hill is a mystery. There are the very up and very down offensive seasons, and defensive metrics are routinely puzzled by him. I think it’s that he makes more difficult plays than his success rate on not-very-hard plays would imply, and different systems value the difficulty of plays differently.

      We’re not far off on Hill money — just $2M total. But although we penciled Taylor Jordan into our rotation, he’s really not that much for the Nationals to give up. Off the radar guy, then had a bunch of success in the minors last year and carried it into a partial season, then he sunk back to mediocrity. I think that’s a guy you deal without much hesitation, although I could be wrong. Part of your point, as I take it, is that Hill means a lot of things to a lot of different people. We found that there were only a small handful of teams that could use him, with the Nats really the only team that had a clear need. So part of this will be luck; if the Nats happen to like Hill, this could work. If not, he might just stick with the D-backs.

      Reed is an interesting thought that we did bat around a bit. I’m just not sure we could find a club to actually take him — he may be more of a deadline move next season, something I think we’d be likely to support.

      So we’re pretty much on the same page, with the possible exception of Cody Ross. I know how crazy this sounds, but I think Ross fits the roster really well. We’re looking at using David Peralta as a starter, and Peralta has a terrible platoon split. Maybe he can improve with time, but I don’t see the split as a fluke; the only way to improve against opposite-armed stuff is to see a lot of it, and Peralta just hasn’t, with fewer lefties in independent ball and limited time the last two years. Inciarte isn’t really a platoon split guy, but it doesn’t hurt Ross’s chances of sticking that 2 of the more primary 4 outfielders bat left handed. Ross really has killed lefties in his career. He’s a great complementary piece for a championship club right now, and while he’s not worth what he’ll be paid, I think he’s worth more than $500k. He could also be the type of asset that another team would be open to adding in July.

      • HowardNeal says:

        I pretty much agree with each of your points.

        Hill is great at the “step and dive” plays (which leads me to believe he can/could handle 3rd base), but he doesn’t seem to move especially well to his right and misplayed several balls to his left (just under or over the glove) over the course of the year while playing second.

        Maybe Ross somehow regains mobility in the outfield and is somewhat useful at the plate, despite not having regular at bats.

        And maybe Addison Reed stops losing velocity on his fastball/rediscovers his slider. Either way I can’t see Reed being worth his salary in 2016, so a 2015 deadline deal could work… maybe Detroit comes calling.

        And my secret hope is that Trumbo goes “Dave Kingman 1979” all over the place.

  3. HamiltonJ says:

    Cahill’s option is virtually worthless. No team will exercise that at $13 million, not matter how good he is out of the pen. I think the value is right – he +cash are worth a fringe prospect.

  4. striker says:

    White Sox fan here. I’ll offer you Chris Beck and Cleuluis Rondon for Cahill and Gregorious.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      Honestly, I’d rather just do Cahill here, but so long as the D-backs can clear the salary and roster spot, I’m not so concerned with what they get back. If Arizona will eat some cash, which they should, Cahill is a great buy-low candidate. The return is less important than just getting something done.

  5. Zack Novotny says:

    Everything looked bad first look but took a second look and most of it looked good the only move I do not like is the Brandon Morrow sign, he’s only had one good year before.

  6. Anonymous says:

    man catchers are so hard to find, so that said I like your Pit idea, but would rather have Billingsley Morrow,
    and another arm like Kingham. maybe a year in reno will get sanchez bat going again. so therefore trading montero not ideal but alright. maybe get Molina for league minimum too.

    Hill, he had his usual ld %, bad luck on the babip, he didn’t appear to figure out he wasn’t going to get the close calls, wasn’t in decent hitting counts alot and got away from pulling. He maybe needed, and rebound offensively as well. Even if his defense metrics fall he’s solid. Not a fan of that move.

    Think you also have to start penciling in Drury at second too. Is he capable there?

    Can’t predict which way gregarious and owings yet. Owings probably isn’t a 10 year ss,and something about gregarious that makes you think he might be a contender, with his bat.

    • Jeff Wiser says:

      I’ve seen Drury and spoken to scouts about him at second base. I’ll say that when the idea of him playing second was first proposed, a couple scouts said “no way.” After seeing it, though, those same scouts have come around to day that they think he can do it at a passable level. When I saw him there, he was a little stiff and is going to lack range, but he has a plus arm for second, helping him out some.

      Basically, I still believe his best spot is at third but that he can second while he’s still young, before he loses a step in his late 20s/early 30s. Third base is preferred, but whatever gets his bat in the lineup is fine with me.

      Gregorius is a flawed player (can’t hit lefties at all) but can be utilized by a smart team. I want to see more of Owings before I really bet on him, but if he can learn some plate discipline, he could really take off. For now, I still think he’s the better of the two options (between he and Didi), if only by a little.

  7. […] week we introduced the Inside the ‘Zona 2014-2015 Offseason Plan. If you haven’t read the post, I strongly recommend it. There are number of key moves that we […]

  8. KJ says:

    Not a fan of those ideas. I don’t think they don’t make the team better and isn’t long-term. Here’s what I like:

    1) Trade Miley, Trumbo to Cleveland for Yan Gomes. This trade may require O’Brien which should return A-level prospects.

    2)IF (1) happens, then Montero to Cubs for prospects.

    3) Sign Shields 4 years $76M , front loaded ($22M, $20M, $18M, $16M).

    4) Resign Pennington 2 or 3 yrs – $3-4M a year.

    5) Sign Nuno

    5) Trade Cahill midseason (after Corbin is back) – money included very small (Max $2M), but get A Level prospects.

    6) Trade Hill midseason (after Ahmed gets some more time in AA/AAA) – money included not to exceed $3M – get more prospects.

    Now consider Batting Splits:
    Against LH SP:
    Owings or Inciarte
    Pollack
    Goldy
    Gomes
    Hill (first half)
    Inciarte or Owings
    Pennington
    Ross
    Pitcher

    Against RH SP
    Inciarte
    Pollack
    Goldy
    Peralta
    Lamb
    Owings
    Gomes
    Gregorious
    Pitcher

    There are four current players I consider ‘balanced and productive’ against pitchers from either side, and 1 I would like to add. Obviously some are better from one side than the other, but still production is everything. Thus, they should see the most ABs.

    (Goldy, Pollack, Owings, Inciarte and IF trade occurs, Gomes)

    These players should see favorable ABs against one side and not the other:

    (Peralta, Lamb, Gregorious)

    Now check the Math (Money) – very favorable!

    So, first half rotation:
    (Shields, Collmentor, Helly, Nuno, Anderson/Cahill)

    Second half rotation:
    (Shields, Corbin, Helly, Nuno, Collmentor/Anderson)

    Closer: should be Hudson, given his stuff, combined with health (less wear on repaired elbow).

    This permits Bradley, Blair and Shipley to continue seasoning for 2015. It creates 2016 trade bait with Anderson, Reed and prospect pool. Creates long-term answers (control) through-out the field. Gives back of the rotation an opportunity. This plan is financially stable and below upper threshold. Also, this puts Dbax much more competitive.

  9. jacob Eagleshield says:

    Getting rid of Montero and Para,was,in two words,a ‘bonehead move.’
    Montero is a workhorse,and Para has one of the best right field arms in the NL,not to mention a “pete Rose” work ethic. Tuffy Gosewich? gimme a break.

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