Arizona Diamondbacks: We’re Done Spending In 2016

Dec 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart during a press conference at Chase Field . Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Dave Stewart during a press conference at Chase Field . Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

It wouldn’t be far-fetched to expect that the Arizona Diamondbacks would be buyers on this year’s trade market in a win-now frenzy. Those expectations would be wrong according to general manager Dave Stewart

The Arizona Diamondbacks are coming off an off-season which included a $10 million payroll hike from 2015, a large portion of which came from making starting pitcher Zack Greinke the highest-paid player in baseball in terms of annual contract value, along with sending a haul of prospects to the Atlanta Braves for starting pitcher Shelby Miller.

The Diamondbacks also have a perceived need in center field, as expected starter A.J. Pollock is now hinging on missing the entire season due to a fracture in his right elbow. Those things usually add up to a team looking to spend a little more and acquire talent to make good on the investments already made.

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Stewart is at least spinning it the opposite way right now, as quoted in a Bob McManaman article. When McManaman asked Stewart why fans shouldn’t expect any deals to bring in a high-priced player, Stewart gave the following answer:

"“Well, just that – high dollars. We’re not in a position to take on more salary. We are where we are when it comes to salary and taking on more money. We can’t do that.”"

There are three possible meanings to what we’re hearing from Stewart. The first is that this is simple spin, Stewart’s attempt to keep from appearing in a “desperate win-now mode,” thus trying to keep himself out of a position in which rival GMs might try to take advantage of him and fleece Arizona’s minor-league system.

Additionally, this is better for the team to hear from its GM while the season is just seven games old than its GM announcing through the media that he believes they need additional talent acquired from elsewhere to win a significant amount of games. Both of those reasons would be enough to put out to the public that the Diamondbacks are done spending.

In that scenario, if an opportunity that Arizona likes presents itself later this season, they can still pull the trigger and just re-craft the message at that point. Something like, “it was just an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” would suffice nicely.

The second possibility could easily be inferred from Stewart’s comment. Telling fans not to expect any more significant salary acquisition this season doesn’t rule out the possibility of adding payroll in future seasons. The Diamondbacks could simply be choosing to defer dollars towards targeted players who will become available in future off-seasons.

That logic is strengthened by a quote from manager Chip Hale.

"“We’ve said this from Day 1 of spring training. People try to put this year as being the year, that we’re putting all the chips in for this year. We’re not. We have a lot of talent that is going to come here in the next four, five years so we’re confident it’s not just a one-year wonder thing.”"

The third, and admittedly least likely, possibility is that Arizona is truly at the cap of what Stewart and ownership feel comfortable spending this season and have short-sightedly handcuffed themselves from doing anything to improve the 2016 version of the Diamondbacks. If that’s the case, fans have a beef with management.

Next: Biggest surprises after Week One

Regardless of the motivation, Stewart has said that fans shouldn’t expect Arizona to strike hard again this season. Whether or not that’s actually what happens remains to be seen.