If a tumbleweed blows across the desert, does anyone see it? Does signing Brad Boxberger and Yoshihisa Hirano excite you? No? How do really feel about the two signings the Arizona Diamondbacks have made thus far? Chances are you would feel underwhelmed, maybe even frustrated.
Feeling that way is reasonable. The D-Backs went 93-69 in 2017, a complete flip of their 69-93 record a year before. They won the Wild Card game, but then were swept by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Divisional Series. All things considered, it was a phenomenal turn around for a team that hadn’t tasted playoff baseball since 2011. They made a splash trading for J.D. Martinez in July, a move that paid off big time.
But now what? Martinez is now a free agent yet to sign a contract and there is no indication that he will sign anytime soon. With a current market value of nearly $26 million, Martinez is waiting for teams to get desperate as spring training approaches. Notable losses for the D-Backs so far include catcher Chris Iannetta who signed with Colorado and relief pitcher Fernando Rodney who inked a deal with Minnesota. Both had strong years but can be replaced. An offensive upgrade at catcher seems likely. Jonathan Lucroy and Alex Avila are both available, and signing one of the two would solidify the position.
With Rodney gone, who closes out games? The signing of Boxberger gives Torey Lovullo options in the closer’s role. Archie Bradley is projected to begin the season as the closer, but Boxberger could challenge for the role at some point. Boxberger did close 41 games in 2015 as a member of the Tampa Bay Rays. His experience will likely give Bradley a push at some point should he struggle. Zach Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, and Taijaun Walker make up a solid rotation, and the rest of the bullpen appears to be serviceable.
Can they win? The National League West is going to be a competitive division again in 2018. The Dodgers will be the team to beat and the Rockies once again look poised to make a run, which means that the Diamondbacks need to add at least one more bat. Ideally, Martinez signs a new deal, but don’t count on that coming to fruition. Melky Cabrera, Carlos Gomez, and Lorenzo Cain are all solid options that would bolster the lineup with some production at a lower price tag than Martinez.
Fans in the desert can look forward to meaningful games being played late into the season, and even with the potential loss of Martinez, having perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt on your team is never a bad thing. Look for Arizona to be in the Wild Card game once again this year.