We will finish out the NL West today with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team finished last in the division in 2020 so it seems fitting to talk about them last. Arizona hasn’t done much of anything over the course of the offseason, which probably disturbs fans. I don’t expect them to move up the standings much compared to last season. The only real way they get out of the basement is if the Rockies completely fall apart.
Key Additions: Joakim Soria, Chris Devenski
Key Subtractions: None
Arizona has been making some odd decisions for quite some time and it never seems to pay off. We’ve seen them trade a number one overall pick (Dansby Swanson) away for nothing and give up last year’s NL Cy Young winner for even less. More recently, they traded for Starling Marte and signed Madison Bumgarner to a massive deal. Marte played well for the Backs before being dealt to Miami for Caleb Smith and Humberto Mejia. Bumgarner fell off a cliff and looked like a shell of his former self while still being owed $85 million. The team’s attempts to compete haven’t worked out well and now they’re in a place where they’re not good enough to compete, but have too much talent to be downright miserable. It’ll be interesting to see what tactic they deploy this time around to escape mediocrity.
With the Dodgers being the best of the best and San Diego looking like the next great dynasty, it makes sense for Arizona to sell off everything they can and be bad. I like competitive baseball so tanking teams aren’t my style, but there’s not much optimism to be found for the DBacks. Bumgarner was terrible, Luke Weaver was supposed to be good and that didn’t happen, Eduardo Escobar struggled, and the prospects they brought up didn’t perform well. Realistically, anyone who ends up having a good year for Arizona will end up being viewed as a solid trade chip.
I don’t want to be all doom and gloom because there were some positives in 2020. Zac Gallen was amazing, showing 2019 wasn’t a fluke. Gallen doesn’t have the same pedigree or innings as guys like Walker Buehler or Jack Flaherty, but he’s just as good as those guys. To go along with Zac, Ketel Marte backed up his career 2019 season with a solid performance. Seeing how he’s only 27, Arizona should be excited about him leading this team going forward. For as up-and-down as Jon Duplantier was, he rated out to be slightly above league average. That’s pretty good for a 24 year old pitching in a hitter friendly park. There might not be a ton to hang your hat on if you’re a fan of the Diamondbacks, but what you do have is exceptional.
Something I will be curious to watch is how some of the team’s young players/prospects bounce back. Last season was too small of a sample size to make any sort of overarching claims about how a players career is going to go. With that being said, some of the young guys Arizona decided to call up did not fare well. Carson Kelly is supposed to be the catcher for the next eight years or so; he has an 83 OPS+ in over 200 career games. Daulton Varsho hit under .200 in 101 at bats last season despite being touted as a great hitter. Pavin Smith had a solid average but was still a below average hitter. He didn’t have much power and profiles to continue to hit like he did in his shortened rookie campaign. These are all guys this team looks to help carry them in the future. They’re all still young, but teams aren’t as patient as they once were.
The Diamondbacks were one of the worst teams in the league last season and I believe they’ll once again be at the bottom when October 2021 rolls around. They’ve got a few guys that could be potentially moved. That might be the most exciting part of their season.