This winter is one of transition for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but what remains on their to-do list depends on if you believe the front office.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have had one of the more eventful winter’s around baseball thus far, though what’s transpired has been more about the movement around them than their actions in the market. Save for the Goldschmidt trade, it’s been a passive offseason so far. The time for action is nigh. GM Mike Hazen has been clear about their intentions to remain competitive, but if they’re being forthright, they have some serious work to do.
The priorities at the top of Hazen’s to-do list, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, include settling on a starting first baseman, finding a starter for center field and adding to the bullpen.
There’s always room to add to the bullpen, and the only reason Archie Bradley hasn’t officially been installed as the closer is likely to keep the position open as a bargaining tool for potential free agents. Lots of potential bullpen arms remain in the market, and likely will throughout the winter. This is a need, but the urgency level is low.
At first base, it seems all but certain that Jake Lamb will begin the season as the starting first baseman. He could split time between first and third, but that’ll take someone forcing their way into the conversation. As we detailed in our examination of the Top 5 First Base Contenders, Pavin Smith is at least a year away from working his way into the conversation, and after failing to crack Baseball America’s list of Top 10 prospects in the system, it’s fair to wonder if he might need a couple of seasons before he’s ready. If he doesn’t get more aggressive at the plate, he may never be ready.
On the second point there is no doubt. The Diamondbacks simply can’t enter 2019 with Jarrod Dyson atop their depth chart. Nothing against Dyson, but at 34-years-old, he’s a fourth outfielder at best and the Diamondbacks ought to be showcasing him as such.
Socrates Brito is the other option on the roster, but the Diamondbacks seem hesitant to consider the 26-year-old as a regular option. Despite absolutely crushing Triple A pitching the last two seasons, he’s stumbled just as badly in the majors, managing a meager .202/.229/.250 across 175 plate appearances.
With David Peralta and Steven Souza Jr. locked into the corners, it’s not crazy to imagine a rebuilding team giving Brito, 26, a couple of months to earn his keep, especially with such a qualified fourth outfielder in the mix.
Where exactly that leaves the Diamondbacks on Gilbert’s to-do list is unclear. The checklist makes sense, no doubt, but it also presumes that the Arizona Diamondbacks plan on being active participants this winter, and that’s far from clear.
Mike Hazen and ownership have denied a full rebuild – the question is whether they are posturing. If so, then there may not be many additions left to make. If they’re embarking on a full rebuild. Frankly, the Arizona Diamondbacks don’t need to do anything at all to check the boxes on Gilbert’s list – they just need to cop to what they’ve already done.