The way I see it, Buchholz gave the Diamondbacks 16 excellent starts this year: he owes the DIamondbacks 16 more. I’m totally fine with him splitting up a whole season across two years.
Let’s get Buchholz healthy for the first half, and Taijuan Walker healthy for the second half, and between the two of them that’s a darn good rotation arm.
GM Mike Hazen will have to dish out more than a minor league deal this time around, but because of the late-season injury, probably not too much more. He’ll turn 35 years-old during the 2019 season, and inconsistent veteran arms don’t typically break the bank, even a good one like Buchholz.
A decent comp might be last offseason’s Francisco Liriano deal. The once-promising lefty showed some glimpses with the Astros in 2017, enough for the Tigers to sign him to a one-year, $4MM deal in advance of his age-34 season.
One-time rotation stalwart Doug Fister also signed a one-year $4MM deal last season with the Rangers. He turned 34 years-old in advance of the 2018 season.
Both deals included incentive raises, which makes a lot of sense for a potential Buchholz contract as well. Something in the ballpark of Liriano’s and Fister’s deals might be enough to bring Buchholz back to Arizona. With not much financial wiggle room this offseason, a heavily-incentive-laden deal in the $2-5MM range should be palatable for GM Mike Hazen.
Granted, the list of veteran starters who signed minor league deals last offseason who went on to contribute on big league clubs has some notable names. Wade Miley, Tyson Ross, Bartolo Colon, Brett Anderson, Edwin Jackson, Derek Holland, Jeremy Hellickson and of course, Buchholz himself all signed minor league deals last offseason, so there are bargains out there if you want to roll the dice.
Still, after a more successful season than he’s had in years, Buchholz may be perfectly content to run it back and finish what he started in Arizona.
For the Arizona Diamondbacks, it’s all about perspective. If they expect to get the 32 starts, 14-11, 200 innings version of Buchholz that only exists in dreams, they will be disappointed. But even, say, 75 quality innings that helps boost the rotation for a couple months at some point during the season, at his price, is a worthwhile investment.