The Arizona Diamondbacks are done? I guess? with the largest portions of the 2018-2019 offseason. Now what?
The Arizona Diamondbacks appear finished with the major construction of their 2019 roster, per the Athletic’s Zach Buchanan. This might be surprising to some – namely the 100+ free agents staring down unemployment – but given the financial restraints on a mid-market team in 2019, winter’s early-February shutdown seems almost natural.
Fact of the matter is, even after letting Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock walk in free agency, even after shedding the $14.5MM owed to Paul Goldschmidt, the Diamondbacks find themselves butted up against their payroll ceiling. Their total roster commitments at this time totals, as calculated by Jason Martinez of Roster Resource, around $122MM.
The Dbacks are roughly $9MM shy of their 2018 payroll, almost $20MM under where they were by the end of 2018. It’s reasonable to wonder about the urgency to trade Goldschmidt this winter rather than, say, letting Eduardo Escobar leave in free agency – but the fact of the matter is, the decision to trade Goldy about finances as much as it was about growing the talent base.
What financial considerations there were had less to do with Goldy’s very reasonable 2019 salary as it did the sum it will take to lock him up beyond this season. In one of the surest indications of how the game is changing, the Diamondbacks couldn’t fathom signing Goldschmidt, their best position player ever, to a long-term market value extension.
“Market value” is a difficult term in today’s landscape, of course, as it’s almost impossible to predict the contract Goldschmidt will warrant in free agency next winter. Under this collective bargaining agreement, in this flattened competitive landscape, at the carefully-calculated whims of a highly judicious class of fiscally conservative front office executives: the “market value” for any free agent is nearly impossible to pinpoint.
Regardless, the Diamondbacks could not afford to wait on Goldschmidt. Bidding war, frozen market, or some awful hybrid of the two (Harper? Machado?). Uncertainty awaits Goldschmidt in free agency, and the Diamondbacks did not have the resources to walk away empty-handed from Goldschmidt’s “asset value.”
Whatever you think of the return package the Arizona Diamondbacks netted from St. Louis, GM Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo now embark on the 2019 campaign with a more certain future than if they’d kept Goldschmidt. Odd as it may seem, even the knowledge of a coming challenge is better than facing the uncertainty of this contemporary free agent market.