With a low payroll and an opportunity to get better, are the Arizona Diamondbacks cheap?
When a team that doesn’t play in a big market is forced to be financially savvy, sometimes they are stuck with unfair labels. Sometimes the labels are warranted and sometimes they are not so warranted.
In the case of the Arizona Diamondbacks, they are a team that has spent money and then has tried what they could to shed that money. They will never be in a position to compete financially with the Los Angeles Dodgers but that doesn’t mean that the franchise is cheap, either.
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To accurately label such a thing, there are often certain variables that must be examined when trying to determine whether or not that franchise is giving off the image that others are perceiving. Prior history, current standing and future projections are those big three variables.
So when a team like the Diamondbacks has to be a bit more careful with their spending, does that make them a cheap organization? It really depends on what history says about the team.
There have certainly been times when the Diamondbacks have given out big contracts that have come back to bite them and there have been other times where they haven’t gotten in the hunt for certain players because of price tags.
Last season, fans were angered when the team traded away Touki Toussaint away to the Atlanta Braves so that they could shed the contract of Bronson Arroyo. While the move might have been justified in the long run, it has certainly faced its fair share of backlash. When the Dave Stewart said the Diamondbacks were content with Brad Ziegler as the team’s closer, many wondered if they weren’t willing to pony up for the price tag of a good closer.
On the flip-side, the Diamondbacks then show that they are willing to spend, or at least give off the appearance of such, when they reportedly offer a big contract to big free agents such as the one that was reportedly turned down by Johnny Cueto.
It could be argued that through the shedding of these contracts from the roster and not necessarily spending in free agency, that the team is looking to save that money for players of their own. Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock will need to be payed soon, and both of those players will come with a huge price tag.
The team has always tried to make the effort to avoid arbitration with their players as well. When looking at the core of how the Diamondbacks spend their money, it doesn’t seem like necessarily a team that is cheap, but rather a team looking to make a splash on occasion, which has worked with some contracts, but not so much with others in the franchise’s very brief history.
So are the Diamondbacks cheap?
The D-backs have done a tremendous job of shedding unproductive contracts over the last year and a half. The thought is the money saved will allow the team to spend money on specific needs, namely starting pitching in the offseason. However, while it seemed early on that they could be in the mix for someone like David Price, they are being linked to second tier names like Mike Leake. Does it mean they are being “cheap”?
Reports have the team willing to spend about $100 million dollars in payroll this year. They are already slightly above $60 million leaving a hefty amount to go. Since they don’t seem to be in the running for Price or Zack Greinke, one could figure they could grab Leake or another name they have been linked with or even Kenta Maeda, once the $20 million dollar posting fee is paid. Actually, my dream offseason scenario is acquiring at least one pitcher and locking up A.J. Pollock to a long-term deal.
This is where the “cheap” perception may come into play. Why haven’t they locked up Pollock yet? We heard three months ago that both sides wanted to get a deal done. His price has since skyrocketed over the last year with his Gold Glove, his first All-Star appearance and his 14th place finish in the MVP voting. Would they do the unthinkable and trade Pollock for a bunch of prospects? Highly unlikely. Still, if the D-backs don’t do something of significance this offseason, “cheap” may not be just a perception.
I am not going to label them cheap. I wouldn’t pay the $25-$30 million dollars per year it would take to land Price or Geinke, not for the market size they are in. I’ll take my chances with two other guys, Patrick Corbin and possibly Aaron Blair and Archie Bradley plus a core of Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt. That’s not being cheap. That’s smart.
While it certainly remains to be seen if the Diamondbacks can work out a contract with some of their own top stars, cheap would probably not be the best term to describe what they are doing. They have shown they are willing to spend in the right spots.
The question is really if it’s a show or if their intentions to spend are serious. They also have the fortunate ability of having young controllable arms in the system that might make it easier to not have to go out and spend on the front of rotation.
The hope is that one of those young arms can eventually become what they are looking for and if the New York Mets taught baseball anything this year, it’s that it is important to trust the process when it comes to young pitching.
So are the Diamondbacks cheap? No. Could they probably spend their money more wisely? Certainly, but they aren’t doing anything that could drastically alter their future, and that’s probably a good thing.
This is just the reality of not being a big-market team.