PHOENIX -- If the last three years are any indication, then as the calendar flips from 2019 to '20, here are a couple of things you can count on when it comes to the D-backs: They are going to be competitive and they’re going to pull off some moves you weren’t expecting.
The D-backs won the National League Wild Card Game in 2017 and led the NL West for much of '18 before slumping in September. They were in the Wild Card hunt in '19 up until the final two weeks of the season.
As they try to improve on their 85 wins from last season, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said all options are on the table.
“We know we still have needs on the team that we need to address somehow and some way,” Hazen said. “You don’t always know, even today, what that way may be.”
Here are some of the key dates and events to look forward to in 2020:
First pitchers and catchers workout
Feb. 12 will be the first chance D-backs fans have to see newly signed lefty Madison Bumgarner in an Arizona uniform. There will be plenty of competition for spots on the staff with several young pitchers pushing for spots at the back end of the rotation. It will also be worth watching who ends up filling the primary setup roles for closer Archie Bradley.
First full-squad workout
First Spring Training game
The D-backs will open Spring Training Feb. 22 against the Rockies at Salt River Fields in Scottsdale.
March 26 against the Braves at Chase Field. After opening on the road last year, the D-backs open at home in 2020 with a four-game set against the National League East champion Braves.
Three questions as the 2020 season approaches
1. When will Bumgarner pitch against the Giants?
Bumgarner won’t have to wait long before facing off against his former team as the Giants follow the Braves into Chase Field for a three-game series from March 30-April 1. The two teams then hook up for a four-game set April 6-9 in San Francisco. That means that seven of Bumgarner’s first 14 games will come against the Giants.
“The fans in that city mean so much to me,” Bumgarner said of San Francisco. “Shoot, it’s been 10 years there. We won three world championships and been through a lot together. They’ve always been as good as they can possibly be to me, and I will never forget that. I’ll always be thankful for it.”
2. Where will Ketel Marte play?
The D-backs signed Kole Calhoun to a two-year, $16 million deal to handle right field, but it remains to be determined where Marte primarily plays, center field or at second base. All eyes will be on Marte in Spring Training to see how he has recovered from the stress reaction in his back that ended his 2019 season early.
3. How will D-backs approach the July 31 Trade Deadline?
Hazen has done some of his best work at the Trade Deadline -- acquiring outfielder J.D. Martinez in 2017 tops the list -- and he has the backing of ownership when it comes to making additions he thinks are necessary.
With that in mind, D-backs team president/CEO Derrick Hall said the team tries to keep a little in reserve for the Deadline.
“We have a budget, we try to stick to that budget, but we’re always trying to challenge ourselves to make sure we have some [funds] should we need to make a move in the middle of the season,” Hall said. “So we have to be careful not to empty out our keg now and make sure we still have some left over.”