After plenty of internal debate and discussion, it appears that D-backs right-hander Archie Bradley's role for 2018 is coming into focus.
"We're going to bring him into camp, stretch him out, but it's likely he's going to be in the 'pen," D-backs general manager Mike Hazen said Tuesday from the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla. "We haven't specifically discussed his role. I think he'll continue in the back-end of the bullpen. We haven't ruled out closing, but we'll see what happens as we put the team together. We just want to put him in any situation that he can have an impact on the game."
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Bradley, who was selected seventh overall in the 2011 Draft, had been a starter throughout his Minor League career and in his first two seasons in the big leagues.
Last spring, though, after losing out in a bid for the fifth spot in the rotation, Bradley pitched in relief and was dominant as the team's primary setup man, appearing in 63 games and compiling a 1.73 ERA.
Arizona will stretch Bradley out this spring, Hazen said, because that's the way Bradley has always approached Spring Training, and the D-backs do not want to change that.
As it stands now, Arizona has last year's rotation -- Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Taijuan Walker, Patrick Corbin and Zack Godley -- under control for 2018.
"We're expecting to have five starting pitchers, so I would anticipate that the result is that [Bradley's] in the 'pen," Hazen said.
Whether Bradley shifts from setup man to closer depends on what the D-backs do this winter.
Fernando Rodney saved 39 games for Arizona last year, but he is a free agent. The D-backs do have interest in bringing the 40-year-old back.
"We like Rodney," Hazen said. "He did a great job for us. We'll see how things go, but he was tremendous for us all the way through. We're trying to remain semi-flexible in how we build the bullpen. We're not entirely wed to any one direction."
Bradley said last week at the team's annual golf tournament that he was open to whatever role the team wanted him to pitch in, but his preference is starting.
"I see the value in what I did this year and I enjoyed it," Bradley said. "I thought it was fun. I definitely love starting and want to do that again [after] understanding and learning some of the things I learned this year. But at the end of the day, I want to win and I want the ball in my hand. If that's as a closer, a middle reliever, as a starter -- and that's obviously what I would prefer to do; I think I could be a really good guy every fifth day -- but whatever it is, I just want to win. I want to be successful. That's what it's going to come down to and I think we'll both be on the same page when it comes to that decision."