Hall: D-backs talking Ahmed extension, more

December 6th, 2019

PHOENIX -- The D-backs will have some payroll space to work with this offseason thanks in part to last season’s trade of Zack Greinke as well as the decision not to tender contracts to outfielder Steven Souza Jr., pitcher Taijuan Walker and catcher Caleb Joseph.

D-backs CEO/president Derrick Hall addressed the team’s payroll situation and a few other topics Thursday at the team’s 22nd Annual Winter Classic event at Chase Field.

Here are some takeaways:

1) The Opening Day payroll will likely be right around where it was last year (roughly $123 million)

If the D-backs do spend the same amount come Opening Day, that would leave them with around $30 million to spend this winter.

“We do have that ability to go out there and get a little creative and add to the existing payroll to get back up to that level,” Hall said. “But we always like to leave a little room should we need to add during the season. [Managing general partner Ken Kendrick] has always been great about letting us do a little more and stretching even more. We go a little beyond just the revenues that we bring in, which is not the smartest way to operate, but we realize that we’re a baseball team and that’s how we want to spend our revenues and that’s why we want to find new ways to increase revenues and find new revenue streams in the future related to this stadium or [a new stadium] so that we can continue to compete or find new ways to compete.”

2) That doesn’t mean the team is going to spend that money on just one player

One of the reasons the D-backs dealt Greinke at last year’s Trade Deadline was that they didn’t want to have so much payroll tied up in one individual. Instead, look for the team to use the money to strengthen itself in the outfield -- especially with the departure of Souza -- and the bullpen -- which GM Mike Hazen is always looking to strengthen.

“They like to get creative and find multiple players that can help us,” Hall said of Hazen and his staff. “They like creating competition as well. I think we’ll look at everything. We’ll look all the free agents on the market, we’ll look at trades. We’ll get very creative, but when I think it comes to the holes that we have to fill, it’s in multiple areas.”

3) A contract extension for Ahmed is being discussed internally

Shortstop Nick Ahmed is entering his final year of club control and is certainly the type of player the team would like to sign to an extension, but it remains to be seen whether that will get done.

“Well, it’s something that we’re obviously talking about internally,” Hall said. “He’s an important part of this team, obviously.”

4) The D-backs have more flexibility than in recent years -- and not just with payroll

After restocking the farm system through the MLB Draft, international signings and trades over the last couple of seasons, the D-backs have more depth than they’ve had in a long while.

It’s possible they could trade from some of that young depth to improve the Major League team, but Hall pointed out that Hazen did a great job at last year’s Trade Deadline of both trading a prospect to help the Major League team (Jazz Chisholm for Zac Gallen) while also trading a veteran (Greinke) in exchange for four prospects from the Astros.

It can be a tough balance, but one Hazen has proven adept at.

“We’re going to continue to try and do that,” Hall said.

5) Nothing appears imminent on the new stadium front

The D-backs took over control of Chase Field from Maricopa County this past year, which among other things allows them to now book outside events and collect the revenue from them. The organization, meanwhile, has explored the possibility of building a new stadium, or renovating Chase Field. Either way, they want to be able to have multiple revenue streams of a mixed use development around the ballpark much like the Braves have in Atlanta or the Rangers in Arlington.

“We haven’t been aggressively looking,” Hall said. “I think we’re trying to find solutions here first. So we’ll see. I’m still having conversations around Maricopa County with possibilities, but not nearly to the point of urgency as I felt before, just because we’re in control of the building right now and that was important to us. This is going to be a longer period of planning.”