The end of the offseason and the start of the new campaign is hard to define. You might think it’s the moment pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training. Maybe you view it as the time when all players arrive in camp. Is it when the first Spring Training game is played? In truth, the offseason sort of bleeds into the spring as there are still transactions happening. Guys are being inked to minor league deals and don’t be shocked to see a trade or two pulled off before the season starts. Maybe even a Diamondback could be on the move before the season kicks off in April.
But for our intents and purposes, we’re going to go ahead and call the offseason a done deal. Maybe that’s accurate and maybe it’s not, but we’re running this show and someone’s gotta make a distinction. We’re up to the task and if there’s one thing we do around here, it’s evaluating baseball. Just like we did last year, it’s time to grade the 2014-15 offseason. Here’s a reminder of how we graded each “major” transaction:
- Each move receives a “quality” score (-10 to 10), which essentially gauges how well the move was made and whether it was sound or not.
- Each move receives an “impact” score (0-10), which describes the level of impact we feel it will have on the team/organization.
- Both Ryan and Jeff evaluated each move independently, then the two scores were averaged for the values you see below.
If you listened to the latest edition of The Pool Shot podcast, you’d note that Ryan and Jeff didn’t necessarily see eye-to-eye on the scoring of some of the moves, and we’ll try to capture that in the details of each transaction. They’re all subjective, and while we’ve written about most of these deals in the past, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section below!
Traded OF Justin Williams and SS Andrew Velazquez to the Rays for SP Jeremy Hellickson (analysis)
- Quality: -0.5
- Impact: 5
- Comments (RPM): This was an eminently justifiable deal, and Hellickson absolutely is one of the most promising rotation candidates for the next two years. It would also be wrong for us to sell this as an overpay, because, really, it isn’t. As the first major move of the offseason, we don’t necessarily have to ding this trade for not fitting what seemed to be the plan throughout the rest of the offseason: gearing up for 2017 without sacrificing anything more immediate. But we don’t have to reward it for that reason, either, and while it doesn’t affect our quality score, this move may be the canary in the coal mine that players who aren’t likely to join the team before 2018 just aren’t part of the current D-backs business plan.
Traded SP Mike Bolsinger to the Dodgers for cash
- Quality: 7.5
- Impact: 1
- Comments (RPM): Will Harris — a revelation in 2013 who struggled mightily in 2014 — was the first man cut from the 40-man after the season. At the time, the justification was that starting pitching depth like Bolsinger was a higher priority. At this point, it’s pretty clear that he was going to have no role in this organization; the D-backs have incredible depth at starting pitcher if you put the quality cutoff just higher than Bolsinger. Selling him for cash instead of simply waiving/releasing him (a la Harris) is an excellent move. It doesn’t matter what the dollar amount was.
Traded SP Charles Brewer to the Indians for cash
- Quality: 6.5
- Impact: 1
- Comments (JW): like Bolsinger above, the Diamondbacks had the option of just releasing Brewer, a guy who didn’t fit with the organization considering the other, higher-upside options. But they didn’t and instead flipped him to the Indians for cash, something that’s always useful.
Traded SS Didi Gregorius to the Yankees in a three-team deal for SP Robbie Ray and 2B Domingo Leyba (analysis)
- Quality: 6
- Impact: 5
- Comments (JW): considering that Didi Gregorius had clearly fallen out of favor in Arizona, thanks in large part to the talents of Chris Owings, it was great to see the team get at least something of value in return. Of course, Ray and Leyba have a chance to be that and more. Ray is a big league reliever at worst with plus velocity from the left side while Leyba is an upside second baseman with feel to hit. That’s not a bad haul for a guy who was the odd man out who only had one year at the minimum remaining.
Signed international free agent 3B/OF Yasmany Tomas to a 6-year, $68.5 million deal with opt-out after 4-years (story)
- Quality: 7
- Impact: 8
- Comments (JW): this move is exactly why we have two categories. The Diamondbacks successfully recruited Tomas away from higher bidders by including an opt-out clause after the fourth year, which was pretty much genius. Of course, it also has a huge impact as Tomas has big time raw power and some upside, although he may not tap into it while playing third base. For now, his presence at the hot corner creates roster reverberations on guys like Jake Lamb, Brandon Drury, Mark Trumbo and Ender Inciarte.
Traded C Miguel Montero to the Cubs for P Jeferson Mejia and P Zack Godley (analysis)
- Quality: 1.5
- Impact: 8.5
- Comments (JW): Ryan and I differed here, at least in terms of the quality of this deal. I gave the team considerable credit for offloading all of Montero’s deal without having to eat a single penny while Ryan docked the D-backs for leaving themselves without a real major league catching option. However you wish to look at it, this obviously has huge repercussions on the roster, the defense behind the dish and the payroll situation through 2016.
Selected C Oscar Hernandez from Rays in Rule 5 Draft (analysis)
- Quality: 8
- Impact: 5
- Comments (JW): the quality here is obvious; the Diamondbacks had the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft and took the player that many had as the best overall option. That much seems easy to understand. Keeping Hernandez on the 25-man roster all season is an entirely different matter as he was generally viewed as unready to contribute when he was selected. He’s supposedly progress this offseason, but whether or not it’s enough to keep him on the roster is yet to be seen. That uncertainty drastically distorts the impact of the move overall.
Traded SP Zeke Spruill to Red Sox for P Myles Smith
- Quality: 3
- Impact: 1.5
- Comments (JW): this move is about as “meh” as they come. Spruill, like Bolsinger and Brewer, did not have a place on this team and was traded for a guy who is potential reliever in Smith. I can get behind acquiring at least something for a guy you don’t really need, but Smith has massive washout potential and in the end, this one probably doesn’t matter for Arizona or Boston.
Traded SP Wade Miley to the Red Sox for SP Rubby de la Rosa and SP Allen Webster (analysis)
- Quality: -1
- Impact: 6.5
- Comments (RPM): We had a tough time working through this move, which we discussed at length on Episode 9 of The Pool Shot. A team like the D-backs that has little trouble with depth and a lot of trouble getting premium talent has every reason to add as many high ceiling lottery tickets as possible — even if the risk is high. On the other hand, though, Miley was poised to help the club throughout the up-to-2017 window that the team has chosen, and while Miley was far from an ace, he was not a liability. The main reservation with this move is that if the team doesn’t factor in the pitching malaise that has affected almost every D-backs pitcher, it may always prefer pitchers wearing other teams’ uniforms.
Traded RP Eury de la Rosa to the Athletics for cash
- Quality: 1.5
- Impact: 1.5
- Comments (RPM): I feel very tricked by Eury de la Rosa. In 2013, he was completely terrible, both in the minors and for the big club. But he seemed to come on in 2014, and when I finally started to think that his performance that year and his minor league performance up through 2012 might be most indicative of his future, he blew up in September. He wasn’t going to fit on the team — there are too many bullpen options now and in the near future. A fairly smart play, but a fairly minor one.
Signed 1B/3B/C Jordan Pacheco to a minor league deal
- Quality: 2.5
- Impact: 1
- Comments (RPM): Pacheco is the only player projected at FanGraphs to make the team, but to have a negative WAR projection. He’s a replacement player. But he’s a potentially useful one — before Oscar Hernandez got hurt this spring, the idea of having a third player on the roster who could catch but who could do some other things looked very attractive. Good move for the D-backs to avoid arbitration with Pacheco but still keep him in the fold.
Signed INF Nick Punto to a minor league deal
- Quality: 4.5
- Impact: 0
- Comments (JW): well, on the one hand you have one of the scrappiest, grittiest guys in the recent era finally wearing a Diamondbacks uniform (True Baseball). On the other hand, he probably won’t wear that uniform at all after announcing that he’ll just sit the season out, being paid by the A’s after they outright released him with money still owed. The D-backs pay nothing if he doesn’t play, but keep his rights. Cool deal for Nick Punto; who cares (?) for everyone else.
Signed international amateur SP Yoan Lopez with a $8.16 million signing bonus, plus penalties (analysis)
- Quality: -8
- Impact: 7.5
- Comments (RPM): The D-backs deserve credit for landing a pitcher they targeted, for selling him on the organization. And he is a helpful, promising talent, no less promising than the team got when cashing in on Miley. But that doesn’t change that this was a colossal failure by the org. With the current international bonus pool rules, teams are awarded for taking a very deliberate process. Stay under your cap, and sign some good amateurs? Good. Decide to bust? Good — if you capitalize on the opportunity that means you won’t have another one for the following two years. Busting their pool for Lopez is excusable, maybe even commendable — but not if the team wasn’t in a position to make any kind of other arrangements.
Signed C Gerald Laird to a minor league deal
- Quality: -1
- Impact: 2.5
- Comments (RPM): Bringing in a veteran catcher for basically nothing is good. Bringing in an option who has a bad defensive reputation is not.
One year ago, we were reeling from a series of big, mostly mediocre moves meant to re-engineer the franchise, and a handful of excellent small moves, like the Josh Collmenter extension. Using this same weighting system, we came to the conclusion that the front office’s offseason was a slight positive overall: about 1.2 on the -10 to 10 scale.
This year, the D-backs set out to re-engineer the franchise again. This time, though, our return is overwhelmingly positive: a 6.4 on that same -10 to 10 scale. In fact, between us, out of the 28 total quality scores, only 6 were negative — and the only one of the 14 moves that was rated negatively by both of us was the Lopez signing.
There’s some inconsistency in the swath of offseason moves, the kind of thing that can either mean multiple fingerprints or a flexibility necessary to pull off just that many. We’ll see how the D-backs’ plans pan out; aiming for the middle, as they seem to be doing in 2015, doesn’t necessarily get the team anywhere. But for all of the changes that have been made, only the Hellickson and Lopez moves meant cashing in some part of the organization’s future, and even then, the team does stand to gain in the short term.
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