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  • Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin are no longer in Phoenix and the Diamondbacks are no longer a contender. As Arizona's rebuild begins, Zack Greinke remains a force on the mound.
By Gabriel Baumgaertner
March 27, 2019

2018 finish: 82-80, Fourth in NL West

SI's 2019 Prediction: 70-92, Fourth in NL West

Key additions: RF Adam Jones, INF Wilmer Flores, RHP Luke Weaver, C Carson Kelly, RHP Greg Holland

Key departures: 1B Paul Goldschmidt, OF A.J. Pollock, LHP Patrick Corbin, INF Daniel Descalso, RHP Shelby Miller

Projected Lineup

1. RF Adam Jones

2. 3B Eduardo Escobar

3. LF David Peralta

4. 2B Wilmer Flores

5. 1B Jake Lamb

6. CF Ketel Marte

7. SS Nick Ahmed

8. C Carson Kelly

Bench

C Alex Avila

C John Ryan Murphy

1B/OF Christian Walker

OF Jarrod Dyson

Projected Rotation

1. RHP Zack Greinke

2. LHP Robbie Ray

3. RHP Zack Godley

4. RHP Luke Weaver

5. RHP Merrill Kelly

Bullpen

RHP Greg Holland (closer)

RHP Archie Bradley

RHP Yoshihisa Hirano

LHP Andrew Chafin

RHP Yoan Lopez

RHP Matt Andriese

RHP Matt Koch

Injured List: OF Steven Souza Jr. (out for season), RHP Taijuan Walker, RHP Silvino Bracho (out for season), LHP T.J McFarland

Movin On Up! Luke Weaver was an incredible disappointment in St. Louis in 2018, but the righty who looked like proto-Jacob deGrom in 2017 deserves one more look in his new home. The centerpiece of the trade that sent Paul Goldschmidt to St. Louis, Weaver is still just 25 and is the latest person to use the Rapsodo machine—the pitch tracking camera popularized by Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino—and is now reportedly working on a cutter to add to his arsenal. Hitters pounded pretty much all of Weaver’s pitches in 2018—the .315 average against his curveball is especially cringeworthy—but if he can rediscover the changeup command that he demonstrated in 2017, then he could become the middle-of-the-rotation staple that the Arizona front office expects of him.

Sell! Zack Godley is an old-school starting pitcher: he started 32 games and logged 178 ⅓ innings in 2018. The problem is that he isn’t very good. Godley may function as a strong innings eater for a rebuilding team, but he’s probably going to take his lumps. After an impressive 2017, Godley regressed entirely in 2018. The .324 BABIP is a sign of some pretty bad luck and surrounding defense, but he can only blame himself for a hideous 4.09 walk rate and the unfathomable .349 average from opposing hitters on his cutter. To be successful, Godley needs to work his power sinker and offset it with a big curveball and sneaky cutter. The problem was that hitters punished both the cutter and, worse, the sinker (.304 batting average against). He may be a tough old-school pitcher equipped to finish complete games in an era obsessed with specialization, but Godley isn’t a viable option for a team expecting to make the playoffs.

Appreciate This Man! David Peralta is a late bloomer, but the lefty outfielder compiled a splendid 2018, setting career-highs in home runs, runs and total bases. The 31-year-old outfielder was one of the league leaders in making consistent hard contact and punishing the outside corner. Peralta no longer has the protection of A.J. Pollock and Paul Goldschmidt in the lineup, but the outfielder deserves to be recognized as a formidable middle-of-the-order presence.

A Modest Proposal From Joe Sheehan: The Diamondbacks moved into a rebuild by trading Paul Goldschmidt and allowing Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock to leave via free agency. Remaining, however, is their $35 million man, Zack Greinke. Greinke, 35, had three years left on a free-agent deal that pays him that much in salary and bonus through 2021. He’s been worth it so far; Greinke has a 3.53 ERA in 91 starts for the D’backs, and by WAR has been the eighth-best starter in baseball over the life of his deal. Greinke’s career to date (2663 IP, 187 wins, 3.39 ERA, 61.5 WAR) closely resembles that of another cerebral right-hander of recent vintage, Mike Mussina (2669 IP, 199 wins, 3.53 ERA, 66 WAR), right down to their both being generally underappreciated. Mussina had five years left as an above-average starter (4.14 ERA, 17 WAR) and eventually gained election to the Hall of Fame. It’s not hard to see Greinke, in Phoenix or a new home, doing just the same.

MLB.TV Rating: 3.6

If Zack Greinke isn’t starting, then there aren’t many good reasons to watch this team. Trading a franchise icon in Paul Goldschmidt was tacit admission that the Diamondbacks did not wish to compete the way they did in 2017 and ‘18, and the departure of A.J. Pollock to the rival Dodgers only further demonstrated that Arizona is prioritizing the future instead of this season.

Scout's Takes

A rival scout analyzes the Diamondbacks as they head into the 2019 MLB season. 

What is the key question surrounding this team in 2019?

"For me, it’s just whether their offense can hold up well enough. It just looks like a light offensive club to me and they don’t have a lot of depth there. The pitching’s going to have to carry a lot of weight on its shoulders. I think they’ll probably battle for the cellar with the Giants."

Who is the most overrated player on the team?

“They really liked [Ketel] Marte when they first got him from Seattle. I think he’s a soft everyday player at best. The more they’ve had him, the more I think they’re realizing he might not be as special as they thought. [Greg] Holland i’s getting up there and. The arrow might be pointing down a bit.”

Who is the most underrated player on the team?

I’ll go with Christian Walker. The kid has had a really good camp, and I think he’ll for sure get a bench job and may end up claiming the everyday role there before long. He’s finally been given a chance. He was a guy blocked by Goldy forever, and when he was with the Reds, he was blocked by behind Votto. I think everywhere he’s been, he’s been blocked by a pretty big name there at first base, but it looks like he’s going to be given some opportunities, and he’s earning it.”

Who has the nastiest stuff on the team?

“Robbie Ray. It’s a power arsenal. The issue for him has been his ability to slow things down and utilize his changeup. I’ve always thought of James Paxton when he’s clicking. His walks hold him back a little bit, but stuff, he’s got the best stuff. I’d go with [Archie] Bradley out of the pen.”

Young player on the cusp of stardom

Walker. “The stardom might be a stretch, but I think he’ll surprise some people. He’s got 25-home run potential if he gets 400 at-bats.”

Young player bust candidate

Marte. “The little bit I’ve seen, I haven’t seen the instincts. He’s always been an infielder and to make that transition to the outfield at the major league level is tough enough as it is. I had him in Seattle too, and my feelings have always been the same on him. He’s a nice player, but he’s nothing special.”

What player gets the most out of his talent?

“[David] Peralta. He’s a grinder, just intense. This guy came up as a pitcher, was released, went to Indy-ball to try to convert to a position player and came out of nowhere basically. He built his body up and now he’s a Silver Slugger. He’s a good story and a guy that I never expected this much to come out of him, and might be the leader of this group.”

Who gets the least out of his talent?

“I don’t really want to throw [Jake] Lamb in there, but he’s a guy that’s had a tough time making that adjustment to hit left-handers. He’s a guy where he’s still young enough where he should be trending up, but he it seems like he’s trending down. I expected him to be a potential All-Star guy a couple years ago, and now he’s barely hanging onto an everyday job.”

Whose batting practice makes your jaw drop?

“Walker’s got the double-plus raw power, which I didn’t know. This guy’s got 70 raw power. And as far as just BP, raw power, Yasmany Tomas. He can put on a pretty good show at 5 p.m., but it doesn’t translate too often. He’s had a good spring. He’s got big raw power, he’s just never been able to realize it.”

Name two guys on this team that you would immediately trade for.

“[Eduardo] Escobar and Bradley.”

What player do you not want in the clubhouse?

“This is a tough one, but I might say Greinke. Obviously, it’s very debatable, because we’re talking about a guy that’s going to get some Hall of Fame votes. I just think at this stage in his career, he’s kind of on his own program. I don’t know that resonates real well with the plan, with the youth movement.”

Who do you want at-bat or on the mound in a season-defining moment?

“I’d want Peralta up at bat. Facing a righty. Escobar would’ve been my second choice, but Peralta rises to the situations. I like him in clutch situations.”

Who don’t you want in that situation?

“Lamb versus a lefty. Or I’d say Alex Avila versus a lefty.”

Which under-the-radar prospect/non-roster invitee could make a splash this season?

“I think it happens at the earliest middle of the year, but I think it’s going to be a huge energy boost for the organizations when he comes up, and that’s Jazz Chisholm, shortstop. He’s electric. He’s from the Bahamas, shortstop with power, lightning quick bat, just really, really a fast, quick-twitch athletic guy. He’s got a chance to be an impact guy at a premium position, and his time is coming. He’s a guy, when I saw in fall, I thought he’s got a chance to be Ozzie Guillen.”

Is the current manager one that you would hire to run your club?

“[Torey Lovullo] is definitely someone I’d want to talk to. He’s a quality, quality human being. He comes from more of the teaching mold, and the situation they’re in right now I think he’s a really good fit. I don’t know if he’d be the number one guy on my list, but he’d be somebody I’d consider.”

What is the ceiling for the team this year? What about the next three years?

“It’s going to be a couple years. This year, if they win 75 games it would be a great year. I think they probably finish battling San Francisco for that spot.”

Emptying the Notebook: “They’ve got Nick Ahmed who is a good glove guy at short. The middle of your lineup is probably Peralta, Steven Souza and Lamb. That’s not going to strike a lot of fear into most starting pitchers … The pitching’s still solid. I don’t know about the last guy they got, the kid that pitched overseas, Merrill Kelly. I know he’s had a rough start, I haven’t seen him yet. I think his stuff was okay, but he got hit around his first outing. And I haven’t seen Luke Weaver yet. But up top with Ray and Greinke and Zack Godley, they’re solid.

 

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