The Arizona Diamondbacks head into the 2014 Winter Meetings in San Diego with a few things in mind and a list of needs and goals to meet.
The club has already been active on the trade-wire so far, with the trade of SS Didi Gregorius going to the New York Yankees in a three club deal that landed Left-handed power hurler Robbie Ray while also landing RHP Jermey Hellickson from the Tampa Bay Rays.
As reported by Steve Gilbert on MLB.com, CEO Derrick Hall commented “I think we’ll be active” but cautioned in the same sentence that he didn’t know if the club would actually get any of their goals done during the week-long winter meetings in a seemingly all-out effort to improve a club that finished an MLB worse 64-98 last season.
Here are a few of the things that should be addressed this week:
The Diamondbacks NEED a good starting roster that can reliably hurl 7-plus innings all season long.
The club also needs to improve a bull-pen that finished last season with more than a few ups and downs that certainly tested the patience of the front office and coaching staff that saw the same bullpen blow an unbelievable 29 saves.
The Diamondbacks do have three relievers with a bright future IF they can remain healthy. Ziegler, Delgado and Reed could lead the way – turning into one of the best bullpens in the league.
Overall the Diamondbacks pitching recorded a 4.26 ERA for the entire season. By the numbers it isn’t alarmingly high, but it doesn’t help when the offense doesn’t support pitching by driving in runs to win games.
There’s a bit of work to do with the pitching staff here and hopefully the Diamondbacks continue to focus on this issue while improving on offense.
2. Payroll Concerns:
Signing Cuban phenom Yasmany Tomas to a Six Year, $68.5 Million Dollar deal will definitely challenge the club where payroll is concerned.
CEO Derrick Hall has repeatedly said that he wishes to have the club remain around the $100 Million dollar mark.
There’s still some money to be spent, but the club needs to spend wisely preferably on pitching first as the Diamondbacks have plenty of infield and outfield players that can fill the roster and win games, IF they remain healthy.
3. Areas of Depth:
Obviously there are multiple positions that the club holds depth, which could be the key to making a few trades during the Winter Meetings.
The Diamondbacks do have some depth at the Catcher position, with Miguel Montero being a possible trade to free up $40 Million in Salary.
Another possible trade is Mark Trumbo. Trumbo spend a significant amount of time on the DL with a broken foot, but once activated showed he can play in the outfield and first base while showing power when batting. General Manager Dave Stewart has remarked that he isn’t interested in moving Trumbo.
However, I dont think Stewart wants to blow up the farm system, and they probably aren’t willing to deal their top pitching arms.
5. Rule 5 Draft
On the last day of the Meetings, the Rule 5 draft will commence. Last year, the Dbacks took Cubs reliever Marcos Mateo, but he was returned to the Cubs organization after he struggled with his command during spring training, and did not make the team.
Diamondbacks OF Zach Borienstien is unlikely to be taken this year by another club, because he is to far away from the majors. If a team selects a player from the Rule 5 draft, that player must be kept on the team’s 40 man roster for the entire season.
The Dbacks 40 man roster is full at 40, so the team would need to clear a spot to select someone this year.
6. Possible Moves:
The Diamondbacks might sign Chad Billingsley to add an experienced arm to the rotation.
Pitching is the obvious need this off-season, so expect any moves to solidify a shaky starting rotation and questionable bullpen.
Also, another left handed power hitter would be a nice addition to help the offense drive in runs.
The Diamondbacks only drove in 615 runs over the entire season last year, recording a -127 run deficit on offense.
Improving the lineup is a need as well, but keeping players healthy might be what the doctor orders to improve things in this area.