Not-breaking news: the D-backs have lined up a Contention Window by leaning into Paul Goldschmidt‘s prime and performance likely to remain above average from A.J. Pollock, David Peralta and Patrick Corbin, among others. The Window probably has an expiration date, as the only players one could still consider prospects who remain in the fold might be Braden Shipley and Brandon Drury. As Jeff has laid out, the D-backs have traded away or forfeited three consecutive first round picks, and competitive balance picks in 2013 and 2015. You can add a more distant price to that bill, as well, from the D-backs’ inability to sign an international amateur for more than $300,000 between July 2015 and July 2017.

Where I’m headed here eventually is a look at some potential exit strategies for the D-backs, as the Contention Window closes (thanks, Bradford, for that idea — and to all, if you think something could be interesting, we’re likely to agree). Before we get there, though, we need an idea of how long the Contention Window stays open.

The Contention Window

In the end, the Window’s expiration date will be a decision that the team won’t make for at least two years. Just as it would be foolhardy for the D-backs to pretend otherwise (although they can’t preserve flexibility perfectly), it would be a mistake for us to set a certain date. We can, though, get a better picture of what those possibilities are.

Here are the payroll commitments we’re talking about from 2017 on (does not include this year), with information from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and with my guesses for arbitration salaries included in red (Clippard also in red as we haven’t yet heard how his signing bonus will be paid):

Projecting the payroll

The things that stand out most from these payroll facts/estimates, in my opinion:

  1. Paul Goldschmidt is not controlled beyond 2019.
  2. After the 2018 season, there are a trio of really important players — A.J. Pollock, Shelby Miller, Patrick Corbin — who are also scheduled to be free agents.
  3. In 2018, the team is likely to face a very big payroll crunch, especially considering that they may need to add players from outside the organization (particularly at catcher).

The Goldy bit is important, because it seems like this whole Contention Window Building Process was inspired by his presence. From past studies on his career trajectory like Jeff’s Hall of Fame question last month and a ZiPS cohort projection last year, extending him for more than a year or two beyond 2019 could be problematic, especially at market prices. Fortunately, the D-backs have him on an affordable contract for four more years; unfortunately, they will eventually face a tough decision about whether to pay for a lot of his decline phase in order to lock him up through 2021. Paying Goldy $25M-$35M when he’s in his mid- and late-thirties could compound the pressure created by all of those big deferred Zack Greinke payments.

2016 projectionsMaybe the most important question, though, revolves around talent — the free agency of Pollock, Miller and/or Corbin three years from now. As things stand, those three players are a large chunk of this team’s core. Consider that the payroll totals above aren’t actual totals — they don’t include a handful of league minimum salaries (which may increase soon anyway), and a few more smallish free agent deals along the way. They won’t necessarily keep Jean Segura, Chris Owings or a few of the other players for that 2018 roster crunch season — but at this point, it looks like if they do cut ties, they’d need to return to the free agent market for replacements. That all adds up to it looking very difficult for the D-backs to keep Pollock, Miller and Corbin beyond 2018, although they could keep at least one if they wanted to.

In the end, it’s all going to come down to how good the team is overall. Greinke’s performance is the most important, but Goldy is not far behind. Next could be players like David Peralta and Jake Lamb, but the performance of Yasmany Tomas will also be an especially important factor in a different way, since it’s likely that the D-backs will only be paying Tomas those high salaries in 2019 and 2020 if he hasn’t been good enough on the field to decide to opt out in favor of a new deal. Really, though, those are all just ingredients in one big stew. We will only start to get a clear picture of how close the team is to contending in 2019 at some later date.

Exit Strategies

It’s possible that the D-backs will never endorse an exit strategy. Considering the above, though, were the D-backs to pull the plug at some point, it seems like it would be a question of timing. These are the likeliest last years for the Window:

  1. 2017, when much of the team’s current MLB stockpile is still in place.
  2. 2018, the time when Pollock, Miller and Corbin are scheduled to hit free agency.
  3. 2019, the end of the team’s control over Goldy.
  4. 2021, the end of Greinke’s commitment.

What do you think? Clearly picking between these different plans is an issue for a day about 600 days from now, at the earliest. We could still get somewhere now by thinking them through, though. If you don’t care for one or more of these plans, then you would not want the team to go out of its way to maintain the flexibility to keep it an option; if you think one looks like it could be a solid strategy, then you probably would not want the team to make choices that could rule them out.

2017: At Least We Tried

Sometimes, bad things happen to good players. A serious injury for Greinke, Goldy, or a combination of two or three other core players could leave the team short of the playoffs in 2017, and in such a way as to make 2018 look not much more promising. Poorly timed Tommy John surgeries for important pitchers would do something like that. If things look like the team is going to fall short in 2018, acting quickly could be in the best interests of the team — while there are still players to sell.

One year of A.J. Pollock could net a huge haul of two blue chip prospects and another player, or a larger package of a handful of players with some ceiling (like the Justin Upton trade with the Braves). Miller and Corbin might not net the club quite that much, especially as Chase Field might depress their numbers (especially in Miller’s case) — but could still command a meaningful return. Two years of Goldy at reasonable rates could get the D-backs the moon, three or four players that have a chance of being above average players. Even Greinke could have some value in a Cole Hamels kind of way, especially if the D-backs were willing to shoulder a chunk of the financial cost.

If the team is in a place where considering this is in play, it would mean they have fresh first-hand experience with a quick rebuild not working — less obvious trade chips could also be used. Three years of Peralta and Lamb and Robbie Ray could be auctioned, and that kind of control over Peralta could net about as much as one year of Pollock (due to their ages, Peralta and Ray don’t necessarily make for ideal extension candidates). Heck, even Silvino Bracho could be an attractive trade target in a tear down like the one we’re talking about, and that’s a ton of talent that the D-backs could infuse into their system all at once.

Unfortunately, the chances that all of those players are healthy and productive are low if this is the plan they pursue — if they were all healthy and productive, there’d be every reason to roll the dice on 2018. A full fire sale could nonetheless net the team one or two prospects who could be very good, and five or six more who had a strong chance of being average regulars. Talent like that could easily power a new contender a few more years down the road, especially if the D-backs have made a strong play in the international amateur market in July 2017 and drafted well in 2016 and 2017.

I’m not so sure this could happen — for the D-backs to consider it, they might need to be so decimated that they couldn’t get nearly as much back for the guys they could trade. It’s also less than perfect, because there is no strong class of D-backs minor leaguers like Justin Williams and Touki Toussaint that could make good use of MLB playing time for Arizona in 2018. They could do this, though, and if the D-backs don’t actually contend in either 2016 or 2017, it may not be the current front office that is making decisions for the team in October 2017.

2018: About That Time

As Forrest Gump once put it to Forrest Gump, recounting himself to a stranger on a park bench: “Come this far. Might as well keep on going.” The D-backs paid a tremendous price in transaction costs to assemble this team, and if it looks like they could make as promising a run in 2018 as it seems like they can in 2016 and 2017, why wouldn’t you go for it? If a title run is in reach, outstretching that arm makes a ton of sense even if it means the next rebuild phase will need to be an extra two years longer.

Keeping the team together for 2019, though, could seem daunting. There’s no wave of high-ceiling talent scheduled to arrive in 2018 or 2019, just helpful parts like Alex Young and whatever college player they take with their first round pick in 2017. If Tomas sticks around, signing Pollock, Miller and Corbin could push the 2019 payroll into the $170M range, which seems ridiculous now — and which would surely require significant salaries for a significant number of years. If the D-backs roll the dice on 2018, they’re going to need a catcher of some kind, either by signing a free agent or by signing Welington Castillo to an extension (a trade would likely be tough). Signing one or two players beyond the Contention Window just to keep the door fully open is one thing; signing a handful to $15M+ a year deals stretching to 2022 just to grab at one more season does not.

If the D-backs pull the plug at the end of 2018, their main trade chips might be one year of Goldy (one great prospect and one really good one?), two affordable years of the Peralta/Ray/Lamb/Ahmed group (Peralta, same price as Goldy?), and… not a whole lot else. Relievers, Braden Shipley and Brandon Drury if they’ve become attractive players, etc. It’s less likely, but there’s still a chance that Greinke could bring back some minor league talent in a deal at that point, too.

The prospects the D-backs could add with this kind of sell off would probably get the D-backs back to where they might have been if they hadn’t lost or traded all of these recent draft picks and draftees. That would leave them with a full rebuilding period — anywhere between 3 and 5 years, based on luck and transaction skill — but it wouldn’t be a start-from-scratch kind of thing like what we might expect if the system were not restocked. And if things had gotten out of hand by mid July of 2018, the D-backs could actually advance the schedule a little more by trading two months of Pollock, Miller and Corbin. They’d also have the advantage of two markets for their other wares, including Greinke but also players like Lamb and Ahmed who might be a fit for relatively few teams — and two markets can make it more likely to avoid selling under value.

To avoid a very extended rebuilding process, though, the D-backs would really need to lean into the roster turnover, with no half measures. That means one other thing: if the current draft pick compensation process is still in force, the D-backs would need to strongly, strongly consider offering all three of Pollock, Miller and Corbin qualifying offers, so long as they are healthy and reasonably productive. The thought of being on the hook for all of that money would definitely be daunting. The possibility of picking up three extra picks at the end of the 2019 first round, though? The D-backs could really do something with that. Compensation for departing free agents is part of parity, and the post-2018 situation is exactly what that system is for.

2019: An Approaching Midnight Cowboy

Every once and a while, a player comes out of the woodwork. If we were talking about the 2015 season four years prior, there would not have been a David Peralta in the system for us to talk about. Minor league signs like J.D. Martinez can turn into something. And there’s always the chance that the D-backs’ ground ball experiments could turn into something a lot more than a swingman like Zack Godley. The chances of the D-backs adding one of these woodwork players is lower than it normally would be for most teams, probably, because the D-backs appear to be set at most positions (playing time needed), and because there aren’t a whole lot of Isan Diaz level prospects that could make The Leap like Brandon Drury kinda sorta did during his High-A year.

With a little extra help and a little smart spending on short term deals after the 2018 season, the D-backs could probably scrape together one more year of contention. It might not look as good on paper as the previous three seasons had looked — but if the 2016-2018 teams were consistent winners of 90+ games, “not as good” could still maybe mean a playoffs team. The year would be kind of a farewell tour to the Contention Window, and there would be some fond memories of winning that the whole fan base could re-live vicariously.

The main attraction to trying to keep things together for one more year is the same thing that made putting together the Contention Window in the first place a solid plan: Paul Goldschmidt. If the D-backs had their pitching staff crumble before their eyes and before the end of the 2018 season, maybe they’ve stayed out of the free agent market just before the 2019 season begins, and maybe they’ve opted against trying to extend Goldy. The 2019 plan is about acknowledging that the end is near, but also that one last 80+ win season with Paul Goldschmidt could also be a great entertainment experience.

The 2019 plan is compatible with offering Pollock, Miller and Corbin qualifying offers — maybe even more compatible than the 2018 plan is, since the D-backs would likely shrug if one of them accepted. Their probable departures still help to restock the system, although a pick that might be around #40 in the draft pales in comparison to a likely trade package, even in July 2018. Still, we’re talking very few minor league players that might be worthwhile promotions for the 2019 season, and a draft pick if Goldy leaves would do little to move the needle on the rebuilding process. It would be fun to watch Goldy ride into the sunset, but there’s a whole lot of darkness after that.

2021: A Too Much Space Odyssey

If trying to contend through 2021 becomes an exit strategy — rather than just being a new way of life — then a lot of this might come down to Zack Greinke, and whether he still seems to be a top of the rotation starter. That would almost be a surprise, and yet he’s already remade himself more than once, the last time leading to a completely incredible season. He could do that again. But that’s the thing: we know nothing about the 2020 and 2021 seasons, other than some guaranteed payments. Trying to sort out what would be seasons 5 and 6 of the Contention Window feels like trying to look through a telescope, using the wrong end. Anything could happen, right?

It could happen; a lot of the free agents currently positioned to hit the market after the 2018 season will probably sign extensions before then, but there is still a very, very impressive crop of players likely to be available. That means the D-backs could spend their way into cutting a new hole in the wall and calling it a window. It could also, however, make a second tier of free agents much cheaper than most years. If Pollock’s production has begun to tail off before the end of 2018, he could be a guy that becomes cheaper with the likes of Bryce Harper roaming the Winter Meetings. It’s certainly likely that one or two #2 starter types could be had on surprisingly reasonable deals. In addition, if the D-backs are out of the race in July 2018, they would have some rental players to offer on the market that would return some helpful pieces.

Still, whether this is the plan the D-backs adopt seems to have everything to do with whether some of their current players sign extensions. Peralta is an ideal candidate for a deal that would delay free agency by two years, maybe, and Pollock or Corbin could end up back on a bit of a hometown discount. It’s also possible that Paul Goldschmidt will end up signing a reasonable extension, and the 2020 and 2021 seasons will just be business as normal.

A ton would have to go right for the D-backs to contend in 2020 or 2021… it seems practically impossible. If the D-backs have stretched to get beyond 2018, though, they’re committed through 2021 unless it’s that Goldy Show plan for 2019 only.


Honestly, before starting this exercise (which was still fun), I thought I’d come away with more specifics after enough thinking — things like trading player X for player type Y on date Z. There’s just too much we don’t know, though, a lot of which has to do with the extent to which the Contention Window turns into contention.

The plan that looks the most attractive right now is the post-2018 plan, especially if some compensation picks can be had after 2018 (and there is a new CBA coming soon). It seems unlikely we’d push for a post-2017 plan, although that remains an option if things really just don’t go well. This picture will start to come into focus at some point during the 2017 season, and even one year from now, I’m not sure we could take this any farther than we have here.

The main takeaway for me is this: it sure seems like the end of the Contention Window would be best met with the same kind of aggression that put it together in the first place. Letting things fall apart slowly seems awful. It’s okay to have the end of the Window turn into a pretty dark time, one where MLB playing time can be used to sort out fact from fiction among the team’s best options at that time while the team gets in position to pick high in the next two or three drafts. It’s not the Window, and then a whole lot of nothing — done well, the Noncontention Waiting Area might last only as long as the Contention Window.


28 Responses to Contention Window Exit Strategies

  1. Larry Person says:

    Great analysis! And seeing the salary chart through 2023 is a big time reality check. I think the Tomas opt out after 2018 is a big key. IF Tomas does produce in at least one of the next 3 seasons, to show his potential ceiling either to himself or to others, there is a good chance he would opt out. That would allow the D’backs to resign 2 of 3 rather than 1 of 3 of Corbin, Miller and Pollock. That’s my No. 1 If…then. My other thought is that trading Greinke after the 2019 season will be an almost necessity. And we might not need him IF Corbin, Miller and Bradley are anchoring the staff, with Ray, RDLR and Young at the back end. Obviously, I’m hoping for the contention window to stay open through 2021, and as you wrote, it will take a whole lot to go right for that to happen.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Larry, thanks, and it’s definitely very, very difficult to make solid guesses right now.

      That all makes sense, I would just add that I wouldn’t necessarily bank on Tomas opting out, even if he has a good 1 in the next 3. Salaries will be higher by the time of the two years we’re talking about, but if he thinks his market would be something like $40M/3, he might still stick around — and explore an extension with Arizona. If he thinks his market is more robust than that, he might be missed if he leaves.

      Also — I thought there was almost no chance of the Phillies getting a Hamels deal like they did, but even then, they explored fits there for something like 12 months, and it only happened as a deadline deal, with no other premium pitching available and at a time that the Rangers could not resort to free agents. I’m not saying it was a bad deal, but if the D-backs could explore trading Greinke right now, I think they’d have to eat money to get something done — that’s only more likely to be true as Greinke gets older.

      The very low chances that things will be rosy in 2020 and 2021 is unusual, but lowering those chances were the price paid for an impressive collection of new faces. Maybe we’ll have some woodwork guys, but if not, I could live with that.

  2. Kevin says:

    Great article about something that has been on all of our minds! Thanks for helping us think through some options.

    Also, I’ve thought deeply about where I could stand to see Goldy go if he were to leave the D-backs. The only place I came up with was the Texas Rangers. Goldy went to college in Texas, so that’s a nice fit for him, and we would get to see him occasionally in inter-league play, but wouldn’t have to watch him produce for any of our NL rivals.

    That’s my fan-based exit plan for Goldy anyway.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Thanks, Kevin — we didn’t really get far here, but even that was difficult, and it was only possible with a handful of the things Jeff and I have poked around with already. The Inside the ‘Zona zeitgeist.

      My mind was drifting there, too, although I didn’t actually drift around all MLB. Where I lingered was Colorado — what do you think of that? Still see him at SRF, almost 20 games a year, and it would be a fun place to watch him hit. The power is real, but it’s not the can’t-miss kind, and maybe he ages really well there.

  3. Dave-Phoenix says:

    I think the US had a better exit strategy in Iraq, than the D-Backs have now…

  4. Dave-Phoenix says:

    If Corbin, Miller and Pollock perform as we expect them to, the D-Backs have a snowball’s chance in hell of signing them to long term deals.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      If Miller performs as I expect him to, they wouldn’t have to work very hard to keep him. 5/$80M? That’s doable in the new TV money era.

      I’m with you on your point generally, I think, but this team won’t be fettered by silly conventions. Total commitments in the $130M or $100M range to Pollock or Corbin look a lot more possible after the Greinke signing, despite the pressure of the Greinke money on the roster. Remember Pollock is not exactly young — he will play in 2019 (his first free agent year) at 31 years old. Unless he has a pristine injury history over the next three years, I’m not sure he can grab a 7/$153M Ellsbury contract, even with inflation.

      • Dave-Phoenix says:

        Good point on Pollock’s age. The key to Pollock’s greatness is that he is good at everything, including base stealing. That base stealing can’t be expected to continue when he goes free agent at 31. We’ll have to see how that translates in dollars. He may have the same issues that Dexter Fowler is having…

  5. Pork says:

    It all comes down to the budget. If they want to compete year to year, then ownership needs to commit to a reasonable number. If not then then blow the team up after ’17 (win or loose)and start over. One potential external opportunity is the size/depth of the 2018 FA class. There may very well be some bargains to be had due to over-supply. Go for broke for the next 2 years. Maximize the the value of all our veterans (Including Geinke and Goldy) in trades for young cheap talent and augment this new group with strategic FA signings. I don’t love this idea but might be a way to shorten the cycle of pain to a single year (2018) and keep our payroll near the bottom of MLB.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      I agree, the opportunity to extend the window past 2018 really comes down to money. The players will probably be there, but instead of right now — when 80%-90% of the talent is cost controlled — we’re talking about a team that is much more made up of players getting market rate salaries.

      I don’t really see it. A bold move or two, sure, but the Greinke signing didn’t take the payroll anywhere near where it was to start 2014, and the team is still penny pinching. The type of overall spending we’re talking about on second-tier types means having the $ faucet on most of the way.

  6. Pork says:

    One other thought. The D-backs should release Segura and Tuffy after this season rather than pay them anything near your projected 2017 numbers. Better internal candidates at 2cnd and better external candidates for similar money at catcher.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Catcher might be the hardest position to read in terms of future market; teams tend to hang onto the catchers they have, much more than any other position, I think. Second tier catchers, especially. Every once and a while, some Brian McCann and Russell Martins get paid real money; otherwise, the guys that change teams seem to be mostly minor league free agents.

      Not too many start-worthy catchers were available in free agency the last two winters, and not a ton of guys you want backing up, either. Sort these trackers by catcher, and I think you’ll know what I mean.

      Yeah, Segura could be a non-tender candidate this year, I agree. Unless two of Ahmed, Owings and Drury establish themselves as start-worthy bats, though, cutting Segura might just mean giving the same money to someone new.

  7. rye says:

    Fun to think about but my guess is that it’ll be even more fun to revisit. One thing I’ve learned from religiously following this team over the years is that if you can predict with anything near 60% accuracy how the team will look next season, you’re a baseball Nostradamus. Raise your hand if this time last year you had a 2016 rotation of Greinke, Miller, Corbin, Ray, and RDLR with everyday short stop Nick Ahmed and catcher Wellington Castillo. If you predicted even one of these guys to be in the on the team in 2014 it would have had to been Corbin. The story of 2016 will be rich and complex, full of twists and turns. From my experience, the time to sell will be painfully clear.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      With you completely. At best, we’re looking at trends and possibilities, and at worst, this is all imagination.

      This time in D-backs land is a little bit different, I think, because the Window was built so deliberately, and that draws in some borders with thicker lines. We didn’t know Greinke, but partly because we didn’t dare to dream; we did know they would spend to add pitching, and I think we had that sorted out by Dec/Jan a year ago. We also wouldn’t have said Ray and RDLR specifically, but once it was clear they were gunning for lottery tickets in blowing up the pitching staff, we might have guessed that 2 of Ray/RDLR/Webster/Hellickson would end up sticking.

      I think it all comes down to planning. In 2014, the plan to do this kind of quick-pitch retooling they’ve done in the last 18 months wasn’t in place. But the D-backs have their plan now, I think, and that seems less likely to change over the next 18 months.

      I really don’t expect to keep coming back here over and over, I just wanted to get it all out in one place. Probably a discussion a year from now, since as you say — lots of twists and turns in the offing. But the picture may not actually be clearer even then, unless something really bad happens to someone really important.

    • Dave-Phoenix says:

      Got to agree with you on that.

      Add Inciarte and Peralta to the list. They were not on anyone’s radar anywhere.

      Inciarte went from a nobody to a key player that makes folks think the D-Backs overpaid for Miller.

      Peralta was an over-the-hill pitcher who switched to the outfield and was playing International ball.

      I sure hope the D-Backs have a couple more gems hiding in their system like these guys that will make us forget about all the young prospects we traded away the last 2 years….

      • Lamar Jimmerson says:

        Good point on Inciarte and Peralta. If you want to be optimistic that the Dbacks will find some “woodwork guys,” it is well to remember that neither Ender nor David ever cracked a Baseball America Top-10 Dbacks Prospects list. Ahmed topped out at 10th in 2015. Pollock ranked 6th going into 2012 and sank to 10th the following year. As far as I can tell, Goldy never cracked a Top 10.

        So while of course it’s better to have top-ranked prospects in your system, just in the last few years the Diamondbacks have had low-rated guys — in a mid- to low-rated system — come up and become average to star-level players.

        In baseball, hope is always warranted. Fortunately!

        • Doug says:

          This is an interesting post. Basically none of the current corps of guys that are fueling this contention window were highly rated minor leaguers. Kinda puts an exclamation point on how poorly this organization has done with their first round picks recently… (heck you could make the argument they’ve done poorly since day 1)

          • Ryan P. Morrison says:

            To all — the common thread is that they’re position players. The only homegrown pitchers to surprise in a good way recently may have been Corbin, and to some extent Chafin and Ray (all lefties).

            Arizona is an amazing place to play, and I think that’s it, but yeah, just about every homegrown position player to win a job in the last 3-5 years has outperformed expectations. Either this is the minor league staff being amazing, the scouting staff being amazing, or it’s the park. Golf balls.

            This is why I’d love to see them start committing to really low $12M/6year deals with some of the call up guys, like Brandon Drury right now. Even if they only work out half the time, it would save the team boatloads of money. Once the Arizona Effect sets in… suddenly guys like Goldy, Pollock, Inciarte, Peralta are all amazing. Lamb could be there soon.

            If good translates to great for the position players, though, you have to start to wonder about Chris Owings, etc…

            In terms of betting on talent in the future, what we gain in position players being better than expected, we seem to lose on the pitching side.

          • Dave-Phoenix says:

            I agree…

            Signing young players to long term deals before they become successful?

            The 1990’s Cleveland Indians were one of the first teams to do this. It has become the blue print for mid market teams even since.

  8. Bradford says:

    Ryan, excellent analysis. My hope for the team is that they are able to extend players in a stair-step fashion, that is, one year beyond each other. That leaves us options every year to either trade a player with a year left on their contract or keep them if we’re close and either re-sign them or parlay a QO into a draft pick. I just hope we stay away from the 3-year-contention, 3-year-rebuild that’s so common in mid-market teams.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Thank you for dropping that comment last week!

      The opportunity to feather the contracts like that might not be there, unfortunately. I’ll eat my hat if the D-backs didn’t push Pollock already on an extension that would only eat one or two free agent seasons. To take some of these guys longer means a longer commitment. The only guys I could see signing away just one or two years of free agency right now, either through options or otherwise, are guys like Peralta and Lamb and maybe Ray. But doing that with those guys doesn’t really give you the help you’re looking for.

      Maaaaybe Corbin? But I’m not so sure anything other than year to year for Corbin or Ray makes sense for the team.

      The only pitchers with guaranteed contracts for 2017 are Greinke and Clippard. That’s amazing, if you think about it. It’s also huge for flexibility, and it’s part of why they have the Window opportunity and more than one realistic way out.

  9. Dave-Phoenix says:

    The key to longevity as a mid market team is to have a never-ending supply of young prospects ready to replace the veterans when they go free agent. This was the formula for the Cleveland Indians success throughout the 1990’s. As star players went free agent, the Indians had talented prospects in the organization waiting to take their place.

    One can’t say the D-Backs are loaded with young talent any more. Most of the best young players have already been called up or have been traded away as part of the “win now” strategy.

    I think this year’s Minor League results for D-Backs franchises will not be as good as recent years, when many of the D-Backs Minor League teams made it to the post season.

    • Ryan P. Morrison says:

      Those Indians teams were also — really good.

      This front office took over an organization that was doing just fine, but wasn’t necessarily overflowing with talent. Given the state of the organization, “sustained success” might have been a steady stream of .500 teams.

      If you can’t have the majors AND minors talent that those Indians teams had, you have three choices: stay the course, and maybe add a bit with money; sell what you have, and set your sights for 3-4 years down the road; or this thing that they actually did. Maybe the D-backs just couldn’t have had all of the next six years or so. I think we’re mostly on the same page that considering where the team was in September 2014, pushing chips in and choosing the next few years over the following few years was a completely defensible plan (even if we might quibble more than a little with its execution).

      • Dave-Phoenix says:

        I’m OK with the D-Backs taking their shot right now, and any other time it looks like the D-backs have a shot at making a run. The D-Backs “really were” two pitchers away from being a contender, so they picked the right time to make a run.

        The inability to have an exit strategy is just part of being a mid market team.

        The Pirates and Royals are the teams we need to watch. Both teams have taken their shot shot like the D-Backs are now doing. They are one or two years ahead of where the D-Backs are right now. Let see what “their” exit strategies are and where they are 2-3 years from now.

        We saw what happened to the Brewers. They took their shot, picking up guys like Greinke and Sabathia. They had a 2-3 year window, then their exit strategy became a full rebuild. (I think it is ironic that the Brewers also picked up Greinke when they took their shot)

  10. I hope they are able to extend players in a stair-step fashion, one year beyond each other. our options, every year to either trade a player with a year left on their contract.

  11. Great article. This “contention window” also has me thinking about my Cardinals.

    Keep up the good writing.

  12. This says:

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  13. pete says:

    Does you provide any sports related service ? Please let me know .

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