D-backs may still pursue pitching at Meetings
Even with Greinke on board, club still desires second rotation arm
PHOENIX -- The D-backs did not wait until the Winter Meetings to make a big splash as they shocked the baseball world on Friday night by agreeing to terms with free-agent pitcher Zack Greinke on a six-year, $206.5 million deal that is contingent on a physical, according to multiple sources.
The team has not confirmed the deal, but it is expected to be announced during the meetings, which will run Monday through Thursday in Nashville, Tenn.
The D-backs made no secret of their desire to add starting pitching to an offense that ranked second in the National League in runs scored last year and they wasted little time in offering free-agent right-hander Johnny Cueto a six-year, $120 million contract, which he rejected.
"It does show fans that we're serious and we're trying," D-backs president/CEO Derrick Hall said last week. "We are kicking all the tires."
Apparently that included Greinke, who most expected to either stay with the Dodgers or sign with the Giants.
The D-backs had hoped to add a pair of starters, so Greinke may not be their only addition. However, with so much money now committed to Greinke, GM Dave Stewart and his staff may have to turn their attention to the trade route when they get to the Opryland Hotel.
MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 6 p.m. MT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 9 a.m. MT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 8 a.m. MT.
Starting pitching: Right now, the rotation consists of Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Rubby De La Rosa and Robbie Ray with a host of young pitchers competing for the final spot. The rotation was clearly the weak spot for the team in 2015, and the D-backs still would like to add one more starter.
Bullpen help: Though they went hard after Reds closer Aroldis Chapman at last season's non-waiver Trade Deadline, the D-backs would rather spend their money and/or trade chips on bolstering the rotation. Brad Ziegler has done a good enough job in the closer's role that Arizona is now looking to shore up its middle relief rather than chasing a closer.
Who can they trade if necessary?
A.J. Pollock: Hall said that Pollock is "almost untouchable" and the team has already had internal discussions about signing him long-term. Teams continue to ask the D-backs about potential trades for him, and it's possible that they get overwhelmed by an offer, but it would have to be pretty big, as they have already turned down the Braves' offer of Shelby Miller for him.
Infield depth: The D-backs have a surplus of infielders. Young players like third basemen Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury are possibilities to be moved, and with Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, Phil Gosselin and last year's No. 1 overall pick, Dansby Swanson, the D-backs also have a surplus of middle infielders.
Aaron Hill: The veteran can play second base and third base, and can either be dealt -- though the $12 million he's owed for next season makes that challenging -- or he could be plugged in should the team move some of its younger infielders.
Yasmany Tomas: The emergence of outfielders Ender Inciarte and David Peralta to go with Pollock means that Tomas could be expendable in the right deal. It's also possible the D-backs could trade one of the other outfielders.
Archie Bradley: The former No. 1 pick might benefit from a fresh start elsewhere. The D-backs certainly won't give him away, but if he can be used in a package to get a front-end starting pitcher, they would figure to be open to it.
The D-backs have worked hard the past couple of years to rebuild their farm system after trades by former GM Kevin Towers depleted it. With Drury, Swanson and pitchers Aaron Blair and Braden Shipley, the system is on the rise again.
Drury made his Major League debut in September. Blair and Shipley could find their way to the big leagues in 2016, while Swanson might be one year behind that.
Rule 5 Draft
The D-backs selected catcher Oscar Hernandez in last year's Rule 5 Draft, and at times his presence on the roster tied the hands of manager Chip Hale.
With the team focused on contention in 2016, it seems unlikely it would select someone this year.
Big contracts they might unload
The D-backs spent the past two years shedding big contracts. They would love to get out of the $12 million they owe Hill, but would likely have to eat a large part of it to move him. Tomas is entering the second year of a six-year, $68.5 million contact, and it's doubtful another team would pick up that entire amount.
When you factor in the MLBTradeRumors.com arbitration projections and the roughly $33 million for Greinke, the D-backs payroll sits at right around $93 million. Chief baseball officer Tony La Russa has said that the club could have a payroll as high as $100 million or even slightly more than that.
It's hard to imagine the D-backs could afford another big free-agent pitcher at this point without unloading some salary. Of course, few people expected them to be able to spend $206.5 million on Greinke.