LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs, who claimed a Wild Card spot last year, plan on being postseason contenders once again in 2018, but they aren't going to go all in on next year at the expense of continuing to be competitive in the future.As the Winter Meetings opened
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The D-backs, who claimed a Wild Card spot last year, plan on being postseason contenders once again in 2018, but they aren't going to go all in on next year at the expense of continuing to be competitive in the future.
As the Winter Meetings opened Monday, D-backs GM Mike Hazen had three main objectives: continue adding pieces to the bullpen, find a catching replacement for Chris Iannetta, who departed via free agency, and add some depth to the outfield.
However, if you add up the money owed to players under contract next year with the money MLBTradeRumors.com projects their 13 arbitration-eligible players to make and the salaries of their pre-arbitration guys, you end up around the $115 million mark, which would be a franchise record.
It also seems to be right around what the team has indicated would be its maximum expenditure for this year.
So assuming the D-backs can handle around a $115 million payroll, how can they add the needed pieces without adding much money?
That question has led to speculation they would be open to dealing lefty Patrick Corbin or outfielder A.J. Pollock. Both players are in their final year of arbitration eligibility, with Corbin projected to earn a little more than $8 million and Pollock around $8.5 million.
Hazen was asked if he anticipated both Corbin and Pollock being back with the D-backs next year.
"Yeah, I anticipate it," he said. "You never know where the trade market is going to take you but I would anticipate that to be the case. I don't have a reason to think otherwise now."
But does the team need to move money in order to take on money?
"It's hard to say," Hazen said. "I think if you're able to make some moves cheaply, on the free-agent market or via trade, then you never know. We'll see where that takes us."
Hazen has to continue to balance the desire to contend this year while also keeping an eye on making sure that long term they can continue to remain competitive. It's what he often refers to as "sustainability."
"I think we're semi-open-minded to that we're going to have to be creative for the long term," Hazen said. "That means we may have to consider some things that you wouldn't necessarily consider if you were putting all your eggs into 2018."
If the team did not make any further moves, it could shift Braden Shipley or Anthony Banda to the bullpen if needed. The D-backs could also go with some combination of Jeff Mathis, Chris Herrmann and John Ryan Murphy behind the plate.
So it's possible the D-backs could move some money, but they won't move a player just to do it. Instead, it would have to make sense for 2018 as well as for the future.
"We'll see," Hazen said. "We haven't found anything that's right. We're trying to be fairly selective with how we make some of those decisions. It's not like we have to go out and do anything."
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.