Arizona Diamondbacks: Who stays, and who will go?

Robbie Ray gives credit to Randy Johnson for advice and mentoring. (Denis Poroy / Getty Images)
Robbie Ray gives credit to Randy Johnson for advice and mentoring. (Denis Poroy / Getty Images) /

In the coming offseason, Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen will try and keep his playoff team intact.

For general manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks, the fun begins.

Not only does Hazen have to try and keep his 2017 playoff club in place for another run, but, to do so, he has an unfavorable economic environment.

Coming into the offseason, Hazen confronts a plethora of issues, including the need to retain outfielder J.D. Martinez, four others who are unrestricted free agents and valuable utility player Daniel Descalso, who has an option year in 2018. That’s in addition to dealing with 14 players who are restricted free agents.

This is set against a backdrop of an unbalanced bottom-line. That’s because the previous regime of GM Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa, the Hall of Fame manager who became the Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer in 2014, drained the piggy bank.

The La Russa-Stewart pair shelled out nearly $300 million for three players, and two remain questionable for the future. In additional to signing pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million deal, they also inked outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68 million contract (who experienced season-ending surgery and appeared in 47 games), and signed Cuban-born right-hander Yoan Lopez to an $8 million deal in which the Diamondbacks had to add an additional $8 million for an international signing. In three years, Lopez has not progressed above the AA level.

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All of which now puts Hazen in a very precarious position.

Of the unrestricted free agents among outfielders, Martinez’s worth on the open market skyrocketed. According to Spotrac, Martinez earned $11.7 million in 2017, and his market value for 2018 is placed at $25.9 million.

Consider other free agent options for the 2018 season.

Again according to Spotrac, Jayson Werth of the Nationals earned $21.7 million for the 2017 season, and is worth an estimated $9.2 mil. Andre Ethier of the Dodgers earned $17.5 million in 2017 (did not appear in a game until Sept. 1) and shows no value for 2018. Carlos Beltran of the Astros earned $16.0 million in 2017 and is estimated to command $13.0 million. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies earned $20.4 million in 2017 and is estimated at $15 million for the 2018 season.

Among other free agents for 2018, the value of Arizona catcher Chris Iannetta rose. In 2017, Iannetta earned $1.5 million for a one-year deal, and his 2018 value is established at $2.3 mil. Of his 17 home runs (one short of a career-high set with the Rockies in 2008) last season with Arizona, nine tied or gave the Diamondbacks the lead.

Of the restricted free agents, seven were starters and contributed to the success of the Diamondbacks. Two, shortstops Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings, ended the season on the disabled list, but each made important early-season contributions.

Starters Patrick Corbin and Robbie Ray are each restricted as is Taijuan Walker. These three formed a critical core of the rotation, and Jake Lamb, who earned a spot on the NL All-Star team, who cracked 100 RBI (hit .248, 30 homers, 105 RBI) for the first time in his career, is also restricted.

This group of restricted Arizona free agents also includes centerfielder A.J. Pollock and relievers Andrew Chafin J.J. Hoover and T.J. McFarland.

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Catcher Chris Herrmann, who was kept off the NLDS roster, is also restricted as is pitcher Shelby Miller, who could miss the entire 2018 season recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Now, it’s decision time.

Hazen and his staff must proceed through the mountains of analytics, trends, numbers and more numbers to determine whether any of these players fit into the 2018 framework. Once those decisions are reached, then there’s the “delight” of juggling numbers to make those decisions work for the future.