The Diamondbacks responded to two key pieces of their team leaving via free agency in Patrick Corbin and AJ Pollock by orchestrating a teardown. They’ve already traded Paul Goldschmidt, and will likely continue to trade away Major League assets.
Current State: Rebuilding
Diamondbacks Sign SP Merrill Kelly
The Diamondbacks have signed right hander Merill Kelly to a two-year/$5.5 million deal. The contract also comes with two options, with a $500K buyout after the first one. Kelly, 30, has pitched the last four years in the Korea Baseball Organization. Despite the league being hitter friendly, Kelly was impressive, especially over his last two seasons, where he’s compiled a 3.64 ERA. Kelly’s stuff is even more impressive; he has a five pitch repertoire and is said to be able to hit 97 MPH with his fastball. His 2.4 BB/9 also suggests he does a good job of preventing free passes. It’s impossible to know how Kelly will do, but one thing is for certain- the Diamondbacks believe he can be a member of their rotation. If he can be, this deal is great value for them.
Diamondbacks Acquire SP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, IF Andrew Young, and a Competitive Balance Pick In Exchange For 1B Paul Goldschmidt
In a trade that will send franchise icon Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, the Diamondbacks will receive starting pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly, infield prospect Andrew Young, and a Competitive Balance Pick. While this trade signals a rebuild, acquiring multiple pieces with MLB experience suggests that Arizona is looking for a quick turnaround in a few years. Weaver, 25, struggled last season with a 4.95 ERA, 4.45 FIP, and a 1.50 WHIP. Walks (3.6 BB/9), a lack of strikeouts (8 K/9) came back to bite him, but if he can return to his 2017 form (3.88 ERA, 3.17 FIP, and 1.26 WHIP), then he could be a middle of the rotation starter. His ceiling is extremely limited, though. As for Kelly, the 24-year-old has just a .415 OPS in limited action in the majors, but he’s a former top prospect and is superb defensively. If he can be just a league average hitter, than he could be a tremendous asset for Arizona. Still, that’s a major if. Young, 24, is a former 37th round selection that has overachieved so far in the minors. Between High-A and Double-A, he hit .289/.379/.479 with 21 home runs. His ceiling is also limited, but the Diamondbacks will hope that he could at least be a role player for them. Even with the Competitive Balance Pick, this seems like an underwhelming package for Goldschmidt, who is a constant MVP Candidate. Yes, he only had one year left and the Diamondbacks couldn’t afford him, but this package is not going to boost their rebuilding effort the way a trade for Goldschmidt was supposed to. The hole that Goldschmidt left behind definitely won’t be filled by any of these three players, that’s for sure.
Diamondbacks Sign IF Wilmer Flores
The Diamondbacks have signed utility infielder Wilmer Flores to a one year, $3.75 million contract with a $6 million option for 2020 with a $550 thousand buyout. Flores, 27, has been extremely consistent over the past three seasons. His OPS+ has only ranged from 107 to 111 in that span, meaning he’s been an average to slightly above average hitter. However, that’s about all he offers. He has just 0.6 WAR in that span, which demonstrates how limited of a player he is. He has a career negative defensive runs saved in every position he’s played, so his versatility is also a waste. While Flores also is a solid power threat, his on base percentage hasn’t topped .319 in that span, signaling he possesses below average on base skills. The fit isn’t ideal with Arizona, who already has infielders such as Eduardo Escobar capable of playing multiple infield positions. The Diamondbacks could use help at first base, but they can slide Jake Lamb there and Escobar to third base. With that being the case, Flores isn’t an ideal platoon candiate for this lefty heavy lineup, since his OPS was just .640 against southpaws this seasons. This is money that would have been better off being spent elsewhere, such as in the outfield.
Diamondbacks Sign RP Greg Holland
The Diamondbacks have signed reliever Greg Holland to a one year, $3.5 million contract. Holland, 33, is coming off a very disappointing season. After waiting until opening day to sign a one year, $14 million contract with the Cardinals, the right-hander posted an atrocious ERA of 7.92 with the Cardinals before being released. However, he was able to turn around his season slightly when he posted a 0.84 ERA with a 2.97 FIP in 21.1 innings after being picked up by the Nationals. There’s even optimism with his time with the Cardinals, as his FIP of 4.56 in his time with them suggests he wasn’t as bad as his ERA would suggest. When looking an Holland’s underlying stats, there’s even more reason to be optimistic. His ground ball rate was up to 40%, and his hard contact rate actually decreased to 31.8%. While his walk rate bloated to 6.2 BB/9 this season, his 4.2 BB/9 with Washington was right around where it was the season prior. Holland will likely never be the elite pitcher he was with the Royals between 2011 and 2014, where averaged a 1.85 ERA and pitched at least 60 innings per season. However a return to his 2017 form with the Rockies, in which he posted a 3.81 ERA and 41 saves, is definitely a reasonable expectation. Holland will likely get a chance to close and rebuild his value for Arizona in 2019, who will likely be able to flip him at the trade deadline if they aren’t in playoff contention. For $3.5 million for one year, I love this move for the retooling Diamondbacks, who at the very least are able to add a veteran presence at the back end of their bullpen for an affordable rate.
Diamondbacks Sign OF Adam Jones
The Diamondbacks have signed outfielder Adam Jones to a one year contract worth $3 million. Jones, 33, finally gets a deal after an offseason in which fans were so critical of the fact that he remained unsigned for so long. However, those fans may still be enamored with the player Jones once was, and not the player that he currently is. Last season, Jones had an OPS of just .732, a wrc+ of 98, and a WAR of just 0.5. His walk rate has dropped to an abysmal 3.9%, and there’s nothing to suggest Jones can be anything more than an average hitter. That’s unfortunate, as Jones no longer brings much to the table defensively. He had -18 drs in center field last season, and though one might claim a move to a corner outfield spot would help him, he posted -6 drs in right field despite playing just 272.2 innings there. This is more a deal for Jones’ veteran leadership than anything else, and if Arizona trusts him with a starting outfield spot, they’ll be sorely disappointed. With all due respect to Jones, I’m not sure how he managed to land an MLB deal; at this point of his career he’s a below average hitter and a liability defensively, bring zero value to the table in terms of production.
*Will Be Updated Every Time the Diamondbacks Make a Move in Free Agency
Stats Courtesy of Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Savant