D-backs' top Hot Stove priority might be hard to come by
New brass would like to add pitching, but with current market, payroll, trade would be needed
PHOENIX -- With the World Series wrapping up, it's time to light the fire on the Hot Stove season, the first for the D-backs under the leadership of Tony La Russa, Dave Stewart and De Jon Watson.
La Russa, who was hired in May, brought in Stewart and Watson in late September, and the trio spent the first weeks of October hiring manager Chip Hale to replace Kirk Gibson.
Arizona has work to do this offseason after bottoming out last year with a 64-98 last-place finish in the National League West.
The D-backs do not have any free agents on their roster. The two players they held contract options on -- right-hander Daniel Hudson and lefty Matt Reynolds -- have already had those options exercised.
Ideally, Arizona would like to add to its rotation, but given the way the market looks right now for starting pitching, the team may decide to wait until next offseason, when a flood of top starters is expected to hit free agency. The D-backs seem set in the outfield, unless they decide they need to move Mark Trumbo to an American League team.
Look for the D-backs to wait and see if a starter falls through the cracks during free agency with a price more in line with what they can afford to spend. It seems more likely that any help would come via trade. Given its record payroll last year, Arizona will likely be trimming rather than adding to the budget.
The D-backs are overstocked at the shortstop position with Chris Owings, Cliff Pennington, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed, and they could part with one of them if they feel it would net them a pitcher. It's unlikely they could deal second baseman Aaron Hill without picking up a large portion of the $24 million left on his deal. One very valuable trade chip would be catcher Miguel Montero, who would likely bring back a decent haul plus save the team some money, but it's uncertain if Arizona would be willing to part with him.
The D-backs will do what they can to add a starting pitcher, but they will rely more on a return to health by key contributors to bounce back into contention in 2015.