Offseason Tracker and Analysis: Arizona Diamondbacks

Though they’ll likely be less active than they were last offseason, when they traded franchise icon Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks are in a very peculiar situation. They did win 85 games last season, but the focus has also been on restocking their farm system- it will be interesting to see what approach they take.

Expected Direction: Remaining Competitive While Focusing on The Future

Dbacks Sign C Stephen Vogt

vogt
Photo Cred: NBC Sports

Contract Details: One Year, $3 Million ($3 Million 2021 Vesting Option)

Grade: 8/10

In their quest to find a backup catcher to replace Alex Avila, the Diamondbacks have signed veteran catcher Stephen Vogt to a one-year, $3 million contract, with a $3 million vesting option. After having shoulder surgery in 2018, Vogt’s career was in jeopardy. However, he revitalized his career in San Francisco last season. In 99 games and 280 plate appearances, the 35-year-old had an above-average 107 weighted-runs-created plus (wrc+) and had a 0.9 WAR- very respectable numbers for a backup catcher. If there’s one major issue with Vogt, it’s that he’s been a negatively graded framer throughout his career. On the contrary, Arizona has had success improving the defense of their catchers in the past, and for $3 million, they should be getting solid value for a backup catcher with the ability to play on the outfield. Then again, we don’t yet know how attainable the vesting option is- a multi-year contract would seem like a lot for a 35-year-old catcher with poor framing.

Dbacks Sign SP Madison Bumgarner

madbum
Photo Cred: Beyond The Box Score

Contract Details: Five Years, $85 Million ($15 Million Deferred, Only Will Make $6 Million in 2020)

Grade: 6.5/10

In a surprising move, the Diamondbacks have bolstered their rotation, signing Madison Bumgarner to a five-year contract worth $85 million, with $15 million of that total deferred. Bumgarner, 30, is a well-known commodity, as he was the 2014 World Series MVP and has eclipsed 200 innings in seven of his nine seasons. However, that doesn’t mean Arizona is getting an ace with this signing. Quietly, Bumgarner has posted back-to-back seasons with below average xFIPs, which adjusts for league-average home run rates. That’s obviously important, as although Chase Field’s humidor makes it more of pitcher’s friendly ballpark, it’s still a far cry from Oracle Park, which is rated as the league’s most pitcher’s friendly ballpark, per ESPN’s park factors. Therefore, it’s no surprise that his home FIP (3.48) was much lower than his road FIP (4.51)- he should see natural regression away from San Francisco. Plus, Bumgarner’s 41.5% hard-hit rate allowed puts him in just the 10th percentile among qualifying pitchers, according to Baseball Savant, and since his fly ball rate is much higher than his ground ball rate, that’s concerning. Now, there’s value to the consistency and innings pitched that Bumgarner provides to a young rotation, and with an above-average fastball and breaking ball spin rates, he could definitely improve now that he’s with a more analytically inclined major-league staff (his ground ball rate could revert back to normal and he could strike out more batters). Still, that’s far from a sure thing, considering all of the signs signaling that Bumgarner will be a bust, and even though $85 million isn’t a lot for a lot of teams, it is for the small-market Diamondbacks. In other words, I’m very confused by this signing, as this doesn’t fit with what general manager Mike Hazan has done in his time in Arizona.

Dbacks Sign RP Junior Guerra

guerra
Photo Cred: Brew Crew Ball

Contract Details: One Year, $2.55 Million (2021 Club Option With $100K Buyout)

Grade: 9/10

Adding another option to an underrated bullpen, the Diamondbacks have signed Junior Guerra to a one-year contract worth $2.55 million. Since the 34-year-old was non-tendered by the Brewers with three years in service time, Arizona can actually control him through arbitration for three seasons, though that’s a non-factor considering his age. Guerra’s not coming off a very impressive season his first full season as a reliever, as his 4.83 xFIP and 2.14 K-BB ratio were certainly subpar. However, there is some definite intrigue with him. His fastball and curveball spin are both above-average, indicating that he could definitely see increases with his strikeout rate, and even then, he ranked in the 94th percentile in hard hit% allowed and exit velocity allowed. Either way, he’s only costing them $2.55 million, and is a decent multi-inning relief option; like most one-year contracts, this is a low-risk, high-upside signing.

Dbacks Sign OF Kole Calhoun

calhoun
Photo Cred: Los Angeles Times

Contract Details: Two Years, $16 Million ($9 Million Club Option)

Grade: 8.5/10

It appears we may not get a Bumgarner-Yasiel Puig combination; to fill their hole in the outfield, the Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with outfielder Kole Calhoun on a two-year contract worth $16 million, with a $9 million club option for a third year. After dealing with bad luck in 2018, Calhoun naturally improved in 2019, posting a 108 wrc+ and a 2.5 WAR. Judging by his expected statistics, this was on par for a normal season from the 32-year-old, who also remained an above-average defender. This is an underrated deal for Arizona, who quietly has assembled one of the better offenses in the MLB.

Dbacks Sign RP Hector Rondon

rondon
Photo Cred: Arizona Sports

Contract Details: One Year, $3 Million ($4 Million Club Option 2021)

Grade: 9.5/10

Similar to their signing of Guerra, the Diamondbacks have remained active in bringing in bullpen depth at a minimal cost- they’ve signed Hector Rondon to a one-year deal worth $3 million. Rondon, 31, had the worst season of his career, posting a 4.85 xFIP, -0.2 WAR, and 2.40 K-BB ratio. However, previously, he had been consistently one of the better relievers in baseball, but for some reason, his strikeout rate (7.12 K/9) completely dropped. With terrific batted ball numbers, that loss in strikeout rate is essentially all that went wrong for Rondon, but yet, it was strong enough for him to be a non-factor last season. In a new situation, he looks primed to get back to his previous form, but if not? Arizona at least benefits from a serviceable option in the bullpen, and loses little in terms of finances.

Dbacks Extend OF David Peralta

davidperalta
Photo Cred: Arizona Sports

Contract Details: Three Years, $22 Million

Grade: 8.5/10

After bringing in Calhoun to play right field, the Diamondbacks have addressed the other corner outfield spot, extending David Peralta to a three-year deal worth $22 million. The 32-year-old Peralta was expected to earn $8.8 million in arbitration, but instead, will only make $7 million this year, and $7.5 million the following two seasons. As he dealt with injuries last season, the former Indy Ball performer only had a 1.7 WAR, which came with a subpar .301 expected weighted on-base average (xwOBA). Nevertheless, he remained excellent defensively (10 drs), and although his 6.4-degree launch angle is concerning, he’s at worst a slightly above-average offensive producer. It’s a little risky to lock Peralta up for two years after a down season, but still, Arizona saves around $2 million for this season, and likely will be securing the services of a solid starting outfielder for the next seasons; this is a very reasonable move, and will pay off greatly if Peralta gets back to his 2018 ways (3.9 WAR).

Dbacks Trade RHP Matt Andriese To Angels

andriese
Photo Cred: Arizona Sports

Full Trade: Dbacks Trade RHP Matt Andriese To Angels In Exchange For RHP Jeremy Beasley

Grade: 6/10

In a strange decision, the Diamondbacks have traded away one of their more productive relievers from a season ago, shipping righty Matt Andriese to the Angels for pitching prospect Jeremy Beasley. Andriese, 30, was coming off of a strong season with a 3.88 xFIP, and as mentioned, was one of the team’s more trust-worthy options. Now, the 24-year-old Beasley has had some success in the minors, but he appears to be a future swingman type, and for a team wanting to compete this season, sending off a cheap reliever is rather staggering.

Dbacks Acquire OF Starling Marte From Pirates

marte
Photo Cred: CBS Sports

Full Trade: Dbacks Acquire OF Starling Marte and Cash ($1.5M) for RHP Brennan Malone, SS Liover Peguero, $250K International Bonus Money

Grade: 8.5/10

It’s a “Marte Partay” times two! Putting the finishing touches to one of the best lineups in baseball, the Diamondbacks have acquired outfielder Starling Marte from the Pirates, in exchange for pitching prospect Brennan Malone and shortstop prospect Liover Peguero, along with $250K in international bonus money. Marte, 31, will team up with Ketel Marte at the top of Arizona’s lineup, and adds to their collection of consistent contributors. In 132 games last year, he compiled a 3 fWAR with the Pirates, and was above-average on both sides of the ball (119 wrc+, 2 OAA). Even though he’s 31-years-old, his sprint speed (29 ft/sec) actually improved this season, so he should remain capable of playing center field; that complements terrifically with his offense, which should also remain elite (.361 xwOBA, .511xSLG). It’s tough to lose two high-upside prospects in Malone and Peguero, but the Diamondbacks have enough depth in their farm system to make this trade, and for two years of Marte, it’s a rather fair price. It’s another thrifty move by general Mike Hazen, who has built this team into a complete group.

Dbacks Extend SS Nick Ahmed

ahmed
Photo Cred: Forbes

Contract Details: Four Years, $32.5 Million

Grade: 8/10

Continuing on with their busy offseason, the Diamondbacks have agreed to terms on a contract extension with shortstop Nick Ahmed. Ahmed, 30, was one year away from reaching free agency, so excluding his projected arbitration salary for this season, this is essentially a three year, $25 million extension. That’s definitely a notable amount for a player with just a 4.3 career WAR, but over the past two seasons, Ahmed has found his place as the team’s starting shortstop. He’ll never be an above-average hitter (92 wrc+ 2019), but he generates plenty of his value with his defense- he’s posted a combined 39 drs and 45 OAA over the past two seasons. Therefore, he’s been able to average a 2.1 WAR, which means he’s essentially a serviceable starter. Is that worth just over $8 million over the next three seasons? I’m not sure it’s providing much surplus-value, but it’s hard to imagine this extension backfiring for the Diamondbacks, as the 30-year-old’s defense provides him with a very high floor, and he’s been able to make subtle offensive improvements.

*Will Be Updated With Every Move The Diamondbacks Make

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