Pundits can spin it anyway they want, but the DBacks suffered huge losses this offseason. Patrick Corbin signed a big 6 year $140MM contract with the Nationals, AJ Pollock signed a 5 year $60MM contract with LAD, and all-world 1B Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the Cards. So three teams that figured to be in contention anyway picked up the DBacks top 3 players. How does a team that won 82 games and lost their top 3 players figure to improve? Oh well…tough to be a Snakes fan much?
The rotation will have a good top three, but the next two???? Zach Greinke (R), Robbie Ray (L), and Zack Godley (R) figure to keep the DBacks relevant for awhile. But #4 and #5 figure to be Luke Weaver (R) who came over in the Goldschmidt trade, and perhaps Merrill Kelly (R) who pitched in the KBO last year. Can Greinke hold on for another year? Can Ray come back from an off year? When will Taijuan Walker actually make it back? If Weaver and/or Kelly do not work as planned, who else can be considered? Their top two prospects, Jon Duplantier (R) and Taylor Widener (R) do not figure to be ready until next year.. That leaves Matt Koch (R), Braden Shipley (R), and perhaps prospect Taylor Clarke (R) or even journeyman Ricky Nolasco (R). It is hard to understand why the DBacks did not re-sign Clay Buchholz. After Ray, the DBacks do not have any other LHSP in the roster or in the immediate top minor league prospects.
Archie Bradley figures to start the season as the closer for AZ with perhaps Greg Holland and/or Yoshihisa Hirano as potential late inning candidates. Andrew Chafin (L) who will be back for his 6th season with AZ and T. J. Mcfarland (L) back for his 3rd year figure to be the pair of LHRP for the Snakes. Rule 5 Nick Green (R) will get every opportunity to make the team as will Silvio Bracho (R). Long reliever could be Shipley unless they want to keep him starting. Other relief candidates Marc Rzepczynski (L), Rubby De La Rosa (R), Jimmy Sherfy (R), Matt Andriese (R), Robby Scott (L), and Joey Krehbiel (R). Sleeper candidate is prospect Yoan Lopez (R).
Jeff Mathis is now a Texas Ranger, but two of the three DBack catchers are back for another season, John Ryan Murphy and Alex Avila. Carson Kelly, who also came to AZ in the Goldschmidt trade, figures to get the first opportunity to become the regular catcher with Murphy and Avila in reserve. My dark horse catcher candidate is Caleb Joseph. Carson Kelly has a chance to make a name for himself in AZ.
The infield figures to be Jake Lamb (1B), Wilmer Flores (2B), Eduardo Escobar (3B), and Nick Ahmed (SS). Gone from last year are Daniel Descalso (Cubs) and Chris Owings (Royals) with last year’s 2B, Ketel Marte, moving to CF. Jake Lamb now in his 6th year with AZ is moving to 1B from 3B. Christian Walker is just not considered a plausible everyday 1B candidate, but could make the team as the RH pinch hitter. After playing his entire professional career with the Mets, Wilmer Flores was non-tendered by NYM and the DBacks quickly picked him up. Flores figures to be the regular 3B. Eduardo Escobar, who the DBacks acquired last year from the Twins at the trade deadline, was re-signed to a three year FA contract this past winter, and is scheduled to be the regular 2B. Strong defensive SS, Nick Ahmed, will be entering his 6th season with the DBacks, and if he learns how to really handle the bat, could become an AS SS. Former SFG infielder, Kelby Tomlinson, will battle for a roster spot with Christian Walker.
The OF looks to be David Peralta in left, Ketel Marte in center, and Steven Souza Jr. in right. It could be a decent offensive OF, but defensively they seem to be lacking in strong defensive skills all around. The sleeper could be how quick Marte takes to CF. Jarrod Dyson, Socrates Brito, Tim Locastro, and Matt Szczur will battle for the 4th and 5th OF. The wild card is the perennial hope of Yasmany Tomas, who has a ton of talent, but has disappointed so many times. Dyson could be the defensive late inning OF. Locastro has the options remaining, but he has more diversification than any other bench player and should get strong consideration. He can play all over the field. Locastro was one of my favorite Dodger farm hands, and I will be pulling strong for him to gain a roster spot.
The problem the DBacks have is that there is very little help in the minors to help with the rebuild process. Not one of their top prospects is ready for MLB, and some are several years away. Included in their top 10 are 3 SS, 2 catchers, 2 RHSP, and 3 OF. There are a couple of very high ceiling but low floor candidates in SS Jazz Chisholm (MLB Pipeline #60), and OF Kristian Robinson. Their two RHP candidates should begin the season at AA. Jon Duplantier (#73) who has been a top rated pitching prospect for awhile, but many are now beginning to get concerned whether he is an injury risk. Taylor Widener (#83) could hit AAA this year, but looks to be headed to the bullpen in a non high leverage role. I am going to watch two of their OF prospects taken in the 2018 draft very close to where the Dodgers swung and missed with JT Ginn. Alek Thomas (2nd round) and Jake McCarthy (1st supp) should start the season in the Midwest League, so DC should be able to get a good scouting report on both of them.
Interesting to note that one of the projected Dodger draftees in the 2017 draft was Pavin Smith. However, he seems to be taking the same downward spiral tumble that fellow 2017 1st round draftee, Jeren Kendall, seems to be on.
The DBacks are definitely not deep in either pitching, catching, infield, or outfield. They have enough ML and enough SP to make them think they can compete, but there just not nearly enough. I look for them to beat out the Giants for 4th in the NL West.