Diving into the depths: Arizona Diamondbacks

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.

Rotation
1. Joe Saunders
2. Ian Kennedy
3. Daniel Hudson
4. Zach Duke
5. Armando Galarraga
6. Barry Enright
7. Aaron Heilman
8. Kevin Mulvey
9. Jarrod Parker
10. Wade Miley
11. Micah Owings
12. Josh Collmenter
13. Matt Torra
14. Pat Corbin

It appeared that the Diamondbacks set their rotation when they acquired Duke from the Pirates, but they’ve since brought back Heilman as a possible starter and traded for Galarraga. That means Enright, who got off to such a nice start as a rookie before losing each of his final five starts, might be returned to Triple-A for a bit. I’m pretty skeptical about Enright anyway, and Galarraga should prove to be an upgrade in the fifth spot.

Bullpen
1. J.J. Putz
2. Juan Gutierrez
3. David Hernandez
4. Aaron Heilman
5. Sam Demel
6. Kam Mickolio
7. Esmerling Vasquez
8. Mike Hampton
9. Carlos Rosa
10. Micah Owings
11. Armando Galarraga
12. Clay Zavada
13. Kyler Newby
14. Jordan Noberto
15. Zach Kroenke
16. Brian Sweeney
17. Rafael Rodriguez
18. Daniel Stange
19. Joe Paterson
20. Yonata Ortega

Baseball’s worst pen from 2010 got a makeover with the Putz signing and the Mark Reynolds trade. There will be plenty of competition for the final full spots, as holdovers Vasquez and Rosa try to fight off some newcomers. I think Hernandez will prove to be the team’s second-best reliever.

Catcher
1. Miguel Montero
2. Henry Blanco
3. John Hester
4. Konrad Schmidt

First base
1. Juan Miranda
2. Xavier Nady
3. Brandon Allen
4. Micah Owings
5. Andy Tracy

Second base
1. Kelly Johnson
2. Geoff Blum
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Tony Abreu
5. Ryan Roberts
6. Cody Ransom

Third base
1. Melvin Mora
2. Geoff Blum
3. Ryan Roberts
4. Tony Abreu
5. Willie Bloomquist
6. Cody Ransom

Shortstop
1. Stephen Drew
2. Geoff Blum
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Tony Abreu
5. Cody Ransom

Yeah, the budget was quite limited, but the Diamondbacks should have done better than Mora, Nady, Miranda, Blum and Bloomquist as their offensive pickups. My current guess is that Miranda starts at first against right-handers, with Nady shifting back and forth as the first baseman against lefties and the left fielder against most righties. Allen, who has the most offensive potential of the team’s first base-left field candidates, will probably go back to the minors to work on his defense.

Left field
1. Xavier Nady
2. Brandon Allen
3. Gerardo Parra
4. Cole Gillespie
5. Wily Mo Pena
6. Willie Bloomquist
7. Collin Cowgill

Center field
1. Chris Young
2. Gerardo Parra
3. Willie Bloomquist
4. Cole Gillespie

Right field
1. Justin Upton
2. Gerardo Parra
3. Cole Gillespie
4. Wily Mo Pena
5. Willie Bloomquist
6. Collin Cowgill
7. David Winfree

Just 23, Parra is awfully young to be at a career crossroads. However, he might not have the bat to help the Diamondbacks as a corner outfielder. Gillespie is the better bet offensively, and he could get a chance to overtake Parra as the team’s fourth outfielder. As a right-handed hitter, he’d make more sense for the club if the plan is for Nady to cover first against lefties.

Eric Hosmer’s eight-year, $144 million contract isn’t that bad

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Late Saturday night, Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that the Padres and first baseman Eric Hosmer agreed to an eight-year, $144 million contract, the new largest contract in club history. According to Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports, the contract includes an opt-out after the fifth year. Further, Hosmer will average $21 million per year for those first five years and $13 million for the final three years, so it’s severely front-loaded.

Hosmer, 28, had a career year last season, playing in all 162 games while batting .318/.385/.498 with 25 home runs, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored in 671 plate appearances. Per Baseball Reference, Hosmer accrued 4.0 Wins Above Replacement, only one of six first basemen to do so. At No. 6, he was 0.4 WAR behind Anthony Rizzo and 0.4 WAR ahead of Logan Morrison.

Wil Myers had previously told the Padres he would accept a position change if the club were to sign Hosmer. He will be moving to the outfield as a result. The Padres now have a logjam in the outfield, so Jose Pirela could move moved to the infield. How the Padres plan to handle that situation remains to be seen.

The general consensus about the Hosmer signing once news broke was that it is laughably bad. Back in November, Dave Cameron — ironically now in the Padres’ front office — called Hosmer a “free agent landmine.” That thought hasn’t really changed among many writers. For example, using restraint, Dennis Lin of The Athletic calls the deal “a big gamble.” MLB Network’s Brian Kenny said Hosmer has at least three “red flags.”

FanGraphs projects the Padres to finish 71-91, so adding Hosmer isn’t likely to transform the club into a contender on his own. That being said, the Padres’ payroll was only at $70 million prior to the Hosmer signing, so the contract won’t hamstring them going forward. If the young nucleus of players — including Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe — perform as expected, the Padres could be a threat in the NL West relatively soon with plenty of cheap, cost-controlled players and having some experienced veterans like Hosmer and Myers could be useful for their intangibles — pennant race/playoff experience, clubhouse presence, leadership, etc.

Hosmer has had three seasons of 3.5 WAR or more, according to Baseball Reference. He’s had four between -0.5 and 1.0. Now entering his age-28 season, it’s hardly a guarantee he’ll be an All-Star-caliber player in 2018, let alone in 2022 when he is 32 years old. From a strict dollars-to-WAR standpoint in a complete vacuum, one could’ve done better than Hosmer at eight years, $144 million.

The Padres, however, aren’t a small market team; they just operate like one. Forbes valued the club at $1.125 billion last April. The Padres don’t have the financial muscle of the Dodgers or Yankees, but paying Eric Hosmer $18 million on average for the first five years of his contract won’t come close to hurting the organization in any way, shape, or form. More importantly, signing Hosmer shows the rest of the team and the fans a commitment to being legitimate, bumping the payroll up towards $90 million. That now dwarfs teams like the large-market Phillies, who opened up spring training with just over $60 million in player obligations.

In the grand scheme of things, the Hosmer signing is also a good sign given the standstill in the free agent market. Many veteran players — even reliever Fernando Abad, who posted a 3.30 ERA last season — had to settle for minor league contracts instead of guaranteed major league deals. Many others, including the likes of Jake Arrieta and J.D. Martinez, remain unsigned. The rumor that Hosmer wanted more than seven years and close to $150 million was laughed at last month. Agent Scott Boras was still able to get his client the deal he wanted, which could bode well for those still teamless. Martinez’s patience may yet be rewarded like Hosmer’s was; money may once again start flowing in the free agent economy.

In summation, the Eric Hosmer contract is good if: you are Eric Hosmer, related to or a friend of Eric Hosmer, a teammate of Hosmer’s, Scott Boras, a current or soon-to-be free agent, a Padres fan, and a baseball fan in general. The Hosmer contract is bad if: you are a penny-pinching owner of a Major League Baseball team, or someone who cares more about $/WAR than an actual good product being put on the field.