Arizona Diamondbacks By Month: November
By TC Zencka
This is going to be an offseason to remember for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but not for reasons fans are likely to appreciate.
As November rolled in, the biggest question surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks was whether they would compete in 2019 or enter a full rebuild. Though the question wouldn’t be officially answered until December (and may still not be answered fully), the signs in November pointed to a rebuild.
As the first month of the offseason, November is rarely the time for sweeping changes. That said, papers are shuffled, budgets are tinkered, and front offices prepare themselves for the annual reshaping that takes place within baseball organizations every winter.
In November, GM Mike Hazen’s first order of business was the sobering process of tendering qualifying offers to departing free agents. With a one-year $17.9MM cap hit for any player that accepted the offer, only a handful of players receive the offer each year. It’s always bittersweet, as players good enough to warrant a one-year, $17.9MM deal are also good enough to seek more guaranteed money through a multi-year contract on the open market.
The Diamondbacks had a number of departing free agents, but the only two who came close were the two that Mike Hazen ultimately did extend qualifying offers to: Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock.
Considering Corbin’s ridiculous 200-inning, 4+ WAR campaign, he was a lock to receive and reject the qualifying offer. There was some debate about A.J. Pollock, considering his injury history, and whether or not he might accept such a lofty one-year salary in an effort to prove himself with a healthy (and wealthy) season. Ultimately, given the dearth of free agent center fielders on the market, he, too, is a safe bet to garner more guaranteed money in free agency.
In a vacuum, these were good decisions by Mike Hazen, as they allowed the Dbacks to build their war chest with (what will be) two top-100 draft choices rather than lose Corbin and Pollock for nothing.
Still, the cold hard reality of these deals is this: the Diamondbacks are losing 7.1 rWAR from the 34 total rWAR accrued by their 2018 squad. That’s 20% of team production out the door in November. That has to be looked at as a failure, as least in some regard, right?
Addition By Subtraction
GM Mike Hazen also cut loose some arbitration eligible players. By non-tendering Brad Boxberger, Shelby Miller and Chris Owings, the Dbacks saved a projected $13.4MM in 2019 salary, payroll space they desperately needed even after losing Corbin and Pollock. As a trio, these non-tenders were worth -3.0 rWAR in 2018, so there’s a case to be made that these cuts are addition by subtraction.
Frankly, that’s kind of the upside in November for front offices. The free agent doesn’t move quickly enough anymore, so while it’s an important time for laying groundwork for eventual deals, the month is largely about ejecting expensive detritus and making room for whatever planned upgrades are coming (hopefully).
These non-tenders, then, were good decisions. The process of acquiring and giving playing time to these players could and should be called into question, but in a vacuum, again, the front office team did a nice job here.November Grades
The major decisions made in November were good ones for the eventual outlook of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Still, losing Corbin and Pollock will have a negative effect on the 2019 in a major way, and that’s got to be taken into consideration.
They made some minor additions, grabbing Rob Refsnyder, Bryan Castillo, Abraham Almonte and Kelby Tomlinson on minor league deals – these are obviously not going to move the needle. Still, they’re not worth belittling either, as these fringy signings are important for organizations, if not for fans.
We already know the types of changes that are coming in December, and while the month isn’t done yet, it’s unlikely to bring Diamondbacks fans the warm fuzzies they want during the holidays. So enjoy the holidays for what they are, and look forward to a brighter future in Arizona.