Along with the Chicago Cubs, the Arizona Diamondbacks have to be considered the big winners of the 2015 MLB offseason.
The D-backs shocked everybody signing the top pitcher on the free agent market, Zack Greinke, to a six year $304 million dollar deal in early December, and then Diamondbacks GM Dave Stewart made a trade for Braves RHP Shelby Miller in the same week.
The rotation was the biggest weakness of their 2015 season, so its no shock that the D-backs aggressively pursued fixing it, but nobody expected them to sign Greinke and Miller.
Regardless, these moves automatically make the Diamondbacks contenders, along with the Dodgers and the Giants. Many experts are picking them to win the NL West while others are picking the Snakes to at least grab a Wild Card spot.
By runs scored, The Diamondbacks had the best offense in baseball led by Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. The only thing that slowed this team down last season was the starting rotation, and that area is greatly improved.
Improving from 2014 to 2015 under a new front office and a new manager, the D-backs won 15 more games. This team is primed to take the next step and I can’t wait for the season to start.
That doesn’t mean that they are a perfect team. The bullpen could use another veteran arm, and the offense lost some production while the team was focused on acquiring starting pitchers.
To me, the biggest hole the D-backs can easily fill right now is second base. Howie Kendrick is still on the market, and the D-backs need to sign him as soon as possible. It’s a perfect fit for both parties, and Kendrick has hinted recently that he would love to play in the desert.
“(The D-backs are) a really good fit for what I’m looking for in a team,” Kendrick told Spencer. “They have a lot of good players who play the game the right way – guys like Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock. I also know what Greinke can do for a team. They have a lot of pieces. I think I can bring a lot to any team.”
“There hasn’t been a lot of dialogue as far as I know, but I’m not concerned,” he said. “I just want to be in a good environment, with a team that’s committed to winning. I think I mesh well wherever I am.
“Playing with the Dodgers was fun. I was hoping to go back there. I just want to be in a winning situation. The Diamondbacks are a team that’s going to be really good.”
The 32-year-old played one season with the Dodgers hitting .295 with 9 home runs. At the plate, Kendrick has been one of the most consistent offensive second-basemen over his career. He is a career .293 hitter, and has never had a batting average under .279.
Kendrick spent nine years with the other team in the Los Angeles area, the Angels. He put up the numbers he did last season while playing fewer games. That says a lot about his consistency.
What makes Kendrick even more valuable is his excellent defensive play. He had a fielding percentage of .990 last year making just 5 errors, both an improvement over 2014. Overall, he has a .984 career fielding percentage.
As a team, the D-backs had a .220 average at 2B in 2015.
If the D-backs were to sign Kendrick, they would have to give up their competitive balance round draft pick (37th) in this year’s draft. Dave Stewart has already made it clear that he doesn’t want to give up the pick.
The D-backs want to go all in this season, and make a deep playoff run and they have already given up one draft pick. That shouldn’t be an issue, and this statement contradicts what this team has done all offseason.
Signing Kendrick to a one-year-deal would instantly make the D-backs better at the position. I am not a believer in Chris Owings and Aaron Hill, and while I believe Brandon Drury deserves a chance to start at the position, I’m not sure he can produce for a full season.
Kendrick would be a good mentor for Drury, and even if he doesn’t produce, Arizona has depth, and his leadership would be welcomed.
Giving up the draft pick to upgrade a positon of need is worth it if the D-backs are serious about winning in 2016.
Other D-backs Notes: