Ever since Paul Goldschmidt made his first appearance on a National League Most Valuable Player ballot in 2013, he has been one of baseballs best and most entertaining stars. However, the Arizona Diamondback teams he has played on since have been nothing more than an afterthought. Going into the regular season, not much was expected of Arizona. In fact, SB Nation’s Diamondbacks blog, AZ Snakepit, said of the Diamondbacks best possible result for 2017, “It was a mostly quiet winter, though, so even in this best case scenario, we’re pretty sure they [the Diamondbacks] spend 2017 getting back on track instead of actually arriving at a postseason destination.”

Arizona lost in the NL wild card game to the Los Angeles Dodgers and had way more success than anticipated. Yet, even with this success, Arizona has a lot of difficult situations to deal with going into next season. J.D. Martinez was acquired on July 18, 2017, from the Detriot Tigers in exchange for Dawel Lugo, Sergio Alcantara and Jose King. All Martinez did with Arionza was put up 29 home runs and 65 runs batted in across 257 plate appearances. Martinez is now a free agent and is reported to want a contract that Arizona probably will not give out. Among others, here are some of the most prominent issues the Diamondbacks will face this offseason.

1. J.D. Martinez’s Pending Free Agency Needs Resolution Quickly

Martinez played a major role in propelling the Diamondbacks to a 93-69 record. Before Martinez came to the Diamondbacks, his time in Detroit had made him a hot commodity at the trade deadline. With his continued success, Martinez is demanding top dollar as a free agent this offseason. Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent, is known for dragging out contract negotiations in an attempt for the largest possible deal. In 2014, that backfired as Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales did not sign as free agents until May and June respectively. Boras has also negotiated for many household names like Alex Rodriguez, Max Scherzer and Elvis Andrus. In the situation where Boras stands firm on his demands to the Diamondbacks, or another team offers a more lucrative deal, it would be less than surprising to see the Diamondbacks fall out of the running for Martinez.

Arizona should not be forced to wait around; a large contract like this that also handcuffs the front office regarding other contracts is a bad decision and one that they should remove themselves from quickly. It would be incredibly tough to let Martinez walk, but other players without the hindrance of the typical Scott Boras delay would be in the best interest of the team.

 

2. A Possible New Offensive Catalyst

Two hitters that should interest Arizona for slightly different reasons are Lorenzo Cain and Jonathan Lucroy. Diamondback center fielders ranked 15th in the majors for batting average at .264 and 23rd with 17 home runs. At catcher, the situation was not much brighter; Arionza catchers ranked 21st in batting average at .234, but they made up for it with 27 home runs as a unit, good for 11th in baseball. On the downside, catchers were 18th in baseball for RBI with 71.

Cain has had plenty of success as a star. He played in two consecutive World Series’ in 2014 and 2015 with the Kansas City Royals. Cain had a career year in 2015, where he hit .307 with 72 RBI and 28 stolen bases. He was named an All-Star and finished third in the American League Most Valuable Player voting. Cain had an ever-so-slightly down 2016, but made up for it last season hitting .300 with 49 RBI and 26 stolen bases. Cain would provide experience and value at a price presumably not nearly as large as Martinez.

On March 3rd, 2017, Cain was quoted by MLB.com Royals Reporter Jeffrey Flanagan, “…You know, if it were up to me, I’d be here long-term.” Although it would take some heavy recruiting, the Diamondbacks would receive a considerable and needed improvement in center field for 2018.

As for Lucroy, the former Milwaukee Brewer, Texas Ranger and Colorado Rockie catcher is the most accomplished free agent catcher this year. That said, he has declined for the last several years. Even with that slight decline, he would still provide priceless veteran leadership and would be more productive than anything Arizona had last season. Lucroy hit .265 with 21 doubles and 40 RBI; certainly a productive catcher.

Both players would be huge upgrades for Arizona and would help them dramatically in taking the next step to beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Central and in making a deeper postseason run.

3. Keep the Bullpen Intact

In 499.2 innings of relief, Diamondback relievers ranked 5th in all of baseball with a 3.78 ERA. They had one of the best bullpens all season. That said, bullpen regulars Andrew Chafin, Jorge De La Rosa and Fernando Rodney are all free agents this offseason. Rodney’s future is unknown at age 40 and the other two will presumably be looking for more money than their last deals. The Diamondbacks have to keep this bullpen strong as possible. The bullpen was stellar last year and that cannot change if Arizona wants to make a run.
Targets for a closer should Rodney choose to leave could be Matt Albers or Fernando Abad. Abad is slightly younger, but has a worse career ERA. The two have a nearly identical career WHIP and the same number of career saves at two. Even with limited closing experience, both would provide a better option than other would-be closers in the bullpen.

Conclusion

As a team, the Diamondbacks have a bright future ahead. They need to keep their key players with them and might have to give out more money than they usually would. Maybe 2018 is not the time for a deep postseason run, but they are the right track. With Goldschmidt, a strong bullpen and solid pieces all around the diamond, expect Arizona to keep themselves in the hunt for the next couple of years and sooner rather than later make a leap.

About The Author

Josh Schwam

Josh Schwam is currently a senior at York Preparatory School in Manhattan. He has been writing about baseball on personal blogs and various websites since 2014. In addition, he intends to study journalism in college and pursue it as a profession.

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