Arizona Diamondbacks


The Diamondbacks are entering Year 1 of the post-Paul Goldschmidt era, certain only in the fact that they will not be able to replace Goldschmidt in kind. Perennial MVP/Gold Glove candidates and clubhouse leaders do not grow on trees.
Goldschmidt was traded to St. Louis because his contract was to become too burdensome after this season, mostly because the team invested so heavily in Zack Greinke ($206.5 million) and Yasmany Tomas ($68.5 million) in the winter 2015.
What’s New
Goldschmidt is not the only key piece missing as the D-backs begin their third season under general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo, who signed a two-year contract extension that will carry him through the 2021 season two weeks before spring training.

Free agents Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock left for Washington and the Dodgers, respectively, leaving the D-Backs openings at first base, center field and at the top of the rotation.
Holdovers Jake Lamb and Ketel Marte will take over at new positions, with Lamb moving from third base to first, Marte from second base to center field and $4.25 million free agent signee Wilmer Flores playing second. Lamb missed much of last season with a shoulder injury but had 59 homers in the previous two seasons.
The D-Backs were the best defensive team in the NL last season according to advanced metrics used by, but the new alignment could weaken them at all three spots. Lamb has made two career starts at first base and Marte had made two in center. Catcher Carson Kelly and right-hander Luke Weaver were obtained from St. Louis in the Goldschmidt deal and are expected to slide into the lineup and rotation, respectively. Free agent Merrill Kelly will join the rotation after spending the last four seasons in Korea.
Veteran bullpen arm Greg Holland signed a $3.25 million, one-year deal two weeks before spring training that includes incentives that could give him another $3.25 million if he receives a full load as closer, but Archie Bradley and Yoshihisa Hirano also are candidates there.
What Could Change
The Diamondbacks did almost all of their roster reconstruction early in the offseason, including the under-the-radar re-signing of doubles machine third baseman Eduardo Escobar and the Goldschmidt trade.
They have no immediate needs but do have some money in the off chance they find an offer they cannot refuse in a free agent market that still includes top-dollar Adam Jones. The D-Backs’ opening day payroll was about $130 million last season and currently is projected at about $120 million, and Hazen has suggested their payroll will be about the same this season.
If the D-Backs need to dip into the minors, they are deepest at the highest levels in starting pitching, with Taylor Clarke, Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener considered near-ready. Taijuan Walker is expected to return at midseason after undergoing Tommy John surgery last May.
An early fall from contention could make them a trade deadline seller. Holland, Alex Avila and Jarrod Dyson will be free agents next winter.
What’s Coming
After making the playoffs in 2017 and spending five months in first place in the NL West last season, the D-Backs fell apart last September and will be considered an unlikely contender with a new cast this season, even though big bat David Peralta and top starter Greinke return.
The strength NL West does not help. The big-market, big-money Dodgers have won six straight division titles in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs in 2017 and two last year. Colorado, which has made the playoffs the last two seasons, has a terrific offensive group and a nucleus of young starting pitchers that should only improve with age.
It does not help that Pollock, arguably among the top handful of center fielders in the league when healthy, joined the Dodgers.
Beat-Case Scenario: The position changes keep the defense tight, the rotation is strong behind Greinke and Robbie Ray, and enough of the Goldschmidt aura remains for them to make another playoff charge.
Worst-Case Scenario: The bullpen issues that surfaced last September continue, the offense remains in a downward spiral that began in the first season of a humidor at Chase Field in 2018, and the team is forced to extend its selloff mode at the deadline


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