The Arizona Diamondbacks are a team that exists under the radar, so it would be fitting if they were the team secretly involved in the Manny Machado sweepstakes.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a weird place right now.
For most of last season the Diamondbacks were serious contenders for the NL West crown, but after a late-season collapse, the trade of Paul Goldschmidt and the loss of Patrick Corbin the team’s future is uncertain.
The Goldschmidt trade in particular seems like a sign that the team is ready for a rebuild, but GM Mike Hazen insists that that’s not the case. Hazen wants to rebuild on the fly, and thinks that he can keep the Diamondbacks competitive throughout the process.
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Why someone with that attitude would trade away the franchise’s cornerstone player isn’t entirely clear. To this point, the Diamondbacks have done nothing to replace the value they lost by moving Goldschmidt, and holes created by the exits of Corbin and AJ Pollock also haven’t been addressed.
Outside of Zack Greinke’s monster contract, the D-Backs don’t have a ton of money on the books right now, so they certainly could afford to make moves. Why haven’t they? It’s almost as if they’re working on something under the radar…
Say, isn’t there a mystery team involved in the Manny Machado conversation?
The Diamondbacks aren’t the first team that comes to mind when you think about big free agent signings, but Machado would actually be a great fit for the franchise.
Current short stop Nick Ahmed has a bat that’s failed to develop, and Machado would more than make up for the loss of Goldschmidt, bringing pretty similar numbers from the right side of the plate.
The Diamondbacks aren’t a team without good pieces; Jake Lamb is not far removed from his all-star season and David Peralta also looks strong. Adding Machado to the existing group doesn’t make them World Series favorites, but it certainly would put them back in the playoff conversation.
This would fit into Hazen’s plan to strengthen without a teardown. If you don’t want to build up your own players than the only real choice is to pay for a player that’s already complete, and there’s few in the majors more complete than Manny.
Now, Phoenix might not be the most conventional destination for a player who wants to be a star. But, Machado just went through the media scrutiny ringer while playing in LA, and the media did not treat him well. Playing in Phoenix would remove him from this environment, allowing him to focus on playing the game in whatever style he likes.
Chase Field is another attractive aspect of playing for the Diamondbacks. It’s a clear hitter’s park, and its retractable roof means that he’d never really have to contend with the same bad weather he might face in Chicago or Philadelphia.
One factor going against the D-Backs being the mystery team is the Greinke contract mentioned earlier.
Despite Greinke’s decent performance last year the Diamondbacks seem interested in moving him, so it’s not super likely they’d want to bring on the huge contract that Machado wants in the middle of trying to move another albatross.
It’s also possible that the team wants to move the Greinke contract to make room for a contract like what Machado wants. Moving Goldschmidt already did some work in opening up the team’s finances, and a Machado contract is certainly possible if not likely.
In reality, the identity of the mystery team in the chase may never be known. With no real leads on who they might be at this point, and some questionable moves by the Arizona Diamondbacks, they’re as likely as anyone, and certainly worth keeping an eye on.