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Inbox: Who will take the mound in 2020?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers questions from D-backs fans
@SteveGilbertMLB
October 29, 2019

What do you think our 2020 Opening Day starting rotation will be? -- Brendan N., Mesa, Ariz. This is a great question, Brendan, because it helps me preview an upcoming story on what the projected 2020 Opening Day roster will look like. Stay tuned for that. As for the starting

What do you think our 2020 Opening Day starting rotation will be?

-- Brendan N., Mesa, Ariz.

This is a great question, Brendan, because it helps me preview an upcoming story on what the projected 2020 Opening Day roster will look like. Stay tuned for that.

As for the starting rotation, the good news from the team having to dig so deep into its pitching depth in '19 is that they have more options to choose from in '20. There will be some real competition for spots in the rotation this spring. A lot of this depends on whether or not the D-backs acquire a starting pitching this winter or if they trade Robbie Ray, who is just one year away from free agency.

Let’s assume for the moment that we’re choosing from pitchers currently on the roster. I would say Ray, Luke Weaver, Taijuan Walker, Zac Gallen would be good bets, provided that Weaver and Walker are healthy. But again, there will be competition there.

Merrill Kelly really pitched well at the beginning and ending parts of the season while rookies Alex Young and Taylor Clarke also showed they could have success as well. Then you’ve also got guys like Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener (the D-backs' No. 6 and 13 prospects, respectively, per MLB Pipeline) behind them. In short, there’s a lot of depth here, which is important because a team very rarely gets by with five or even seven starters over the course of the season.

Former D-backs [Patrick] Corbin, [Max] Scherzer and [Daniel] Hudson are pitching for the Nationals. Three former starting pitchers for another team all pitch in the same game for one team for a World Series win. That’s got to be a first that reflects poorly on the D-backs. Comment? Thoughts?

-- Gary E., Gilbert, Ariz.

I think each guy left for different reasons, so let’s take a look at them.

First, Corbin. Sure, the D-backs would have liked to have held onto him, but there was no way they were going to be able to match what the Nationals signed him for. Keep in mind, Zack Greinke was still on the books at that point. It would have left them in a position of having too much of their payroll tied up in two players. You can fault the D-backs for signing Greinke, but then again, would they have made the playoffs in 2017 without him and Corbin on their team?

For Scherzer, you have to go in the way back machine. Certainly it’s a trade that former general manager Josh Byrnes would like to have back. But that was in 2009, and he would have long since left the D-backs by now given the salaries he’s made and will continue to make for the next several years. Again, not a good trade, but probably not a factor for the team the last few years.

As for Hudson, any team in baseball could have had him at various points during the past season and did not choose to sign him. I get that seeing former players performing in the World Series can be frustrating, but I think outside of Scherzer, the D-backs did a really good job of getting the best of Corbin and Hudson for years before they left the organization.

Do you see Daulton Varsho being a catcher in the big leagues?

-- Angel, Avondale, Ariz.

Yes, I think Varsho (the D-backs' No. 5 prospect) will do some catching at the Major League level at some point -- probably sooner rather than later. But what I think is even more intriguing about him as a prospect is the potential he has to play multiple positions. Varsho played some center field during the playoffs this past season, and the D-backs were impressed with what they saw from him there. Some think he could also play some second base, though that was not something he did this past season.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.