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Arizona Diamondbacks 10 Arbitration Gambles

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PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Taijuan Walker
PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 26: Taijuan Walker
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The Arizona Diamondbacks had to reach one-year agreements or else submit their arbitration bids on all of their arb-eligible players yesterday. Here are the results.

The Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to terms with 10 of their 11 arbitration eligible players, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter).

The only player unable to come to terms with the Dbacks is lefty reliever T.J. McFarland. Unless a long-term deal is reached, it is likely that McFarland’s 2019 salary will be determined by an arbitration panel. He submitted a salary of $1.675MM, while the team put forth a bid of $1.275MM. Each side will make the case, and the arbitration panel will award McFarland either one sum or the other, a practice intended to put teams and players to reach earlier agreements.

The Dbacks Big Ten list of signees, in no particular order, below:

  1. Archie Bradley will make $1.83MM in 2019, a measly sum given the amount of value the Dbacks hope to extract from their likely-closer. This is Bradley’s first season of arbitration, making him a free agent after the 2021 season. Bradley, 26, will likely be talked about as a trade candidate quite a bit this season, but given his youth, ebullient personality and team control, GM Mike Hazen should not be in any particular rush to deal him. That said, he would be one of the more attractive trade chips left on the roster.
  2. Robbie Ray will make $6.05MM. That should be great value for a lefty top-of-the-rotation arm if he can stay healthy for 175+ innings.
  3. Nick Ahmed will earn $3.6625MM. Ahmed had one season of arbitration eligibility left in 2020. For a defensive stalwart nearing 30, I’d be surprised if the Dbacks signed him long-term, but there also aren’t a lot of contenders with holes at shortstop around the league. After a mini-breakout campaign in 2018, this season he will have to prove the increased power output was for real.
  4. David Peralta takes home $7MM for the 2019 season, his second-to-last of arbitration eligibility. With Goldschmdit gone, Peralta is the big bat in the lineup, and he will be counted on to produce consistently in order to keep this lineup afloat.
  5. Catcher John Ryan Murphy signed a day early for $900K, though it remains to be seen what kind of role he’ll have on the major league club. He does not have any options remaining, whereas Carson Kelly has one option left. So while the Dbacks could send Kelly down to Triple A to start the year, they likely want to begin the season with Kelly on the roster, as he is one of the more interesting players in the organization at present. Without Paul Goldschmidt, generating fan interest at Chase Field will be an uphill battle, and common sense says the Dbacks would do themselves the favor of giving fans a young catcher to get behind. That said, if he has a poor showing in April, fan sentiment could turn quickly to “This is what we got for the best player in franchise history?” If Kelly doesn’t seem ready in Spring Training, it might behoove everyone’s best interests to let it ride behind the dish with incumbents Murphy and Alex Avila.
  6. Steven Souza Jr. signed for $4.125MM. He’s a big bounceback candidate for the Diamondbacks, who expect significant power production from Souza if he can stay healthy. That’s a big if.
  7. Andrew Chafin we wrote about yesterday as contract news was still trickling in, but he is to earn $1.945MM. As one of the most oft-used relievers in the league the last couple of seasons, the Diamondbacks will need to find a way to keep him fresh and productive for the second half, where he has struggled in each of the last two campaigns.
  8. Jake Lamb will make $4.825MM as he transitions from third base to first base. You can read more about the prospects for his 2019 season here.
  9. Matt Andriese signs for $920K. Andriese has to prove that he’s capable of producing consistently for an entire season, but the cost is negligible considering the potential upside. Still, the upside is more in quantity than quality, as he profiles as a swingman capable of pitching multiple innings out of the pen or jumping into the rotation should injury provide a need.
  10. Last but not least, injured righty Taijuan Walker will bring home $5.025MM for next season, though he’ll be on the shelf for at least the first half. Walker is another long-term intriguing piece as he has flashed top-of-the-rotation potential, while struggling with inconsistency and injuries. Somewhat amazingly, he’s still only 26-years-old, and if he can bounce back from his current injury, there’s plenty of reason to believe there’s life left in that right arm.

This crew makes up a huge portion of the Arizona Diamondbacks talent base for 2019. What that means is this team won’t be particularly cheap moving forward, so if they stumble out the gate, many of these players might not get another season of arbitration eligibility in the desert.

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That said, this is also the group with the greatest potential, as most of them are in or approaching their physical prime. The Arizona Diamondbacks have one of the larger ranges of expectations in the league next season, and this group of arbitration players are a big reason why.

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