Arizona Diamondbacks – Is the roster set for spring training?
By Mark Brown
General manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks has made few trades
With less than one month to the opening of spring training, has general manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks finalized his roster.
Coming into the current off-season, Hazen said he wanted to improve the pitching staff and search for a productive, left-handed hitter. While transactions addressed these needs, the upgrades appeared to be marginal.
When Hazen signed Jeremy Hazelbaker, who will 30-years-old this mid-August, did Hazen envision this to be the left-handed bat making a difference. Coming to the desert, Hazelbaker sports a .235 batting average with St. Louis (12 homers, 28 RBIs) for one year of major league service.
With a heathy A. J. Pollock and David Peralta returning to the outfield and Yasmany Tomas, coming off a 30-home run season penciled in as starters, Hazelbaker could battle Chris Herrmann for a roster spot. Mitch Haniger, off a strong September, was considered competitive for a roster spot, but was traded to Seattle in the Jean Segura deal.
At this point, Hazen will have to settle on Herrmann and/or Hazelbaker coming off the bench. Then again, and depending on the health of Pollock and Peralta as starters, plans could change and remain fluid.
On the hill, Hazen dealt for right-handed starter Taijuan Walker, who is coming off an 8-11 season with Seattle and a 4.22 ERA. In parts of his four-year-major league career, Walker has an even 22-22 record for 62 starts and .18 ERA.
In the bullpen, Hazen signed a closer in Fernando Rodney, at 41-years-old. During a 14-year major league career, Rodney has 261 saves in 767 appearances and a 3.69 ERA.
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Whether these are simply cosmetics changes or moves to help elevate the Diamondbacks in the National League West Division depends on player execution.
One reality of the off-season has been the Diamondbacks’ ability to try and cut costs. General manager partner Ken Kendrick, the man with the checkbook, surely has to look at the $206 million he spent for Zack Grienke, the $68 million for Tomas and another $16 million for pitcher Yuan Lopez and wondered what value he received in return.
To that end, the Diamondbacks dealt Segura and released catcher Welington Castillo. Combined, both transactions cost around $15 million, but the Diamondbacks appear down-graded in the catching department.
Allowing Castillo to walk and along with his .264 average, 14 homers and 68 RBIs, offensive production behind the plate was cut. In the last two season with Arizona, Castillo hit 31 round-rippers, and now veterans Jeff Mathis (34-years-old) and Chris Iannetta (34 on April 8), are the Arizona catchers.
Castillo, who signed a two-year, $13 million deal with the Orioles, was thought too expensive, and now Hazen will rely on Mathis and Iannetta, who have a career-combined .213 batting average. Combined, these players will cost the Diamondbacks $2.5 million in 2017. Mathis will earn $1 million, and Iannetta $1.5 this coming season.
If Hazen wants to deal, there is still time.
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On Jan. 24, 2013, the Diamondbacks dealt Justin Upton to Atlanta for Martin Prado, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury and Nick Ahmed. Close to the advent of training camp last year, the Diamondbacks acquired Segura on Jan. 30 from Milwaukee.