What D-backs' latest roster moves mean

March 24th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The D-backs made three roster moves on Friday, bringing into focus the final decisions they will need to make regarding their bullpen.

Lefty and right-hander Luis Frías were optioned to Triple-A Reno while non-roster invite reliever was reassigned to Minor League camp. Here’s what it all means:

or  could wind up in the bullpen
Nelson and Jameson, Arizona's No. 6 and No. 7 overall prospects, respectively, are the final two of the initial group of four left in the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation.

It was assumed that the one who lost out on the spot would open the season with Triple-A Reno, but general manager Mike Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo both left open the possibility that whoever misses the rotation could open the year as a long man in the bullpen.

The D-backs want bullpen length available early in the year
Pitchers are always limited in their pitch count the first few starts of the year. No one wants to overwork their starters right out of the gate. Before his injury,  likely would have filled that role.

The D-backs still have plenty of starting depth
After watching how well pitched this spring and knowing what can do, the D-backs might be confident enough that between those two and Double-A prospects Bryce Jarvis, Blake Walston and Slade Cecconi, they have enough depth to use Nelson or Jameson in relief.

“Ultimately what we’re trying to get at is how do we protect our length but not sacrifice our starting depth,” Hazen said. “Can we figure out a way, if we took one of the starters, to keep our length and not sacrifice that starting depth?”

There are probably five, maybe six bullpen locks at the moment
, , , and all are expected to be on the roster. Cole Sulser seems likely to make the team as he has had a good spring and is already on the 40-man roster.

That leaves four candidates for two bullpen spots or three candidates for one
If they decided to put either Jameson or Nelson in the bullpen, that would leave one open spot with , and  still in the mix.

It won’t be as easy as using Jameson/Nelson in a relief role and then send them down to start
Hazen said if the D-backs do decide to use Jameson or Nelson in relief, if they did not pitch multiple innings during the first month of the season to keep themselves stretched out, he would be hesitant to send them down to Triple-A to be starters again.

“I don’t really want to get pinned into taking a reliever who has been doing a reliever workload and make them a starter again during the season,” Hazen said. “I’m not saying we won’t do it, but that’s not my favorite thing in baseball to do.”