At 52-46, the Diamondbacks are still in the thick of the NL West race. They’re 4 1/2 games back of the Giants there and five games back of the Braves in the wild card.
The road to claiming a spot in the postseason just got a lot tougher, though. Losing Stephen Drew for the season due to a fractured ankle leaves the team with Willie Bloomquist and Cody Ransom at shortstop. Bloomquist is a career .264/.317/.337 hitter whose only real use comes against lefties. Ransom, likewise a right-handed bat, has hit .227/.311/.391 in 304 at-bats in parts of eight major league seasons.
The Diamondbacks were supposed to be buyers before Drew’s injury, with the bullpen and maybe a rotati0n upgrade serving as the top priorities. Now they might well be better off selling. Certainly, if they do stay in the race, shortstop is an even bigger need than setup help or a fifth starter.
Arizona is still working to rebuild a farm system wiped clean a couple of years ago. To give up talent now in order to improve what looks like a .500 roster doesn’t seem like a great idea. On the other hand, I don’t have to concern myself with keeping fans coming through the turnstiles. Plus, the Diamondbacks could probably go get someone like the Mariners’ Jack Wilson without having to surrender a legitimate prospect.
It’s going to be a difficult decision. 4 1/2 games is a significant margin, and the Diamondbacks, with their lack of pitching depth, seem more likely to fade than either the Giants or the Braves. I’d say it’s time to start thinking about 2012 and making Kelly Johnson, Joe Saunders and Ryan Roberts available in trade talks, but then, I don’t have nearly so much to lose.
The Diamondbacks have signed free agent left-hander Jorge De La Rosa to a minor league deal, per a team announcement on Sunday. The contract includes an invitation to spring training. Nick Piecoro of AZCentral.com adds that De La Rosa stands to make $2.25 million if he secures a spot on the major league roster, with up to $600,000 in incentives if he pitches out of the bullpen and up to $1 million in incentives if he pitches out of the starting rotation.
The 35-year-old is expected to compete for a bullpen role after spending the better part of a decade in the Rockies’ rotation. He capped a nine-year run with Colorado in 2016, finishing the year with a 5.51 ERA, 4.2 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 over 134 innings. Despite his struggles out of the rotation, he found limited success in a three-game stint in the bullpen, striking out 10 of 26 batters and holding the opposition to just three hits and one earned run in eight innings.
The veteran lefty is set to join a bullpen comprised of right-handers Randall Delgado, Jake Barrett and Fernando Rodney, along with a number of unproven candidates on similar minor league contracts. His age and command issues may be off-putting, but the promise he showed as a reliever should give the Diamondbacks some upside as they attempt to redeem a league-worst bullpen in 2017.
Blue Jays’ third baseman Josh Donaldson is expected to miss up to three weeks with a right calf strain, reports John Lott. Donaldson reportedly felt some discomfort in his calf during sprinting drills on Friday and was diagnosed with what looked like a mild strain after undergoing an MRI on Saturday. According to Lott, the 31-year-old is on crutches for the next few days and will likely miss 2-3 weeks of spring training.
Donaldson had a similar scare at the start of the 2016 season, when he limped out of the batter’s box during the Blue Jays’ first regular season road trip with a right calf strain. He returned to DH two days later, however, and was back on the field in less than a week’s time. Blue Jays’ GM Ross Atkins told MLB.com’s Corey Long that the two calf injuries are unrelated, and expects that Donaldson will recover in similar fashion this spring — well before Opening Day comes around.