Archive for Diamondbacks

What’s Up With Greinke’s Slider?

Zack Greinke goes to the mound today after giving up 13 runs in his last three starts, something he didn’t do at all last year. So we’re all trying to diagnose him. He is, too. We couldn’t figure it out together, really. Sorry to spoil the ending.

The slider is getting hit hard. Of his pitch types, it has the second-worst exit velocity so far this year, and it’s suffered the most from last year to this year.

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Baseball’s New Approach to the Changeup

Baseball can be slow to change. We’ve had this idea for decades that certain pitch types have platoon splits, and that you should avoid them in certain situations because of it. Righties, don’t throw sliders to lefties! It’s Baseball 101.

Think of the changeup, too. “Does he have a changeup?” or some variation on the theme is the first question uttered of any prospect on the way up. It’s shorthand for “can he be a starter?” because we think of changeups as weapons against the opposite hand. A righty will need one to get lefties out and turn the lineup over, back to the other righties, who will be dispatched using breaking balls.

As with all conventional wisdom, this notion of handedness and pitch types should be rife for manipulation. Say you could use your changeup effectively against same-handed hitters, for example. You could have a fastball/changeup starter that was equally effective against both hands, despite the history of platoon splits on the pitch.

To the innovators go the spoils. And we’re starting to see some innovators.

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Jake Lamb on Being a Gap-to-Gap Diamondback

Jake Lamb is off to a solid start in the production department. The left-handed-hitting third baseman homered in Arizona’s opener, and he doubled in game two. There’s more where that came from. Lamb slugged just .386 in 109 games with the Diamondbacks last year, but he did so as a young player with a foot injury. In three-plus seasons on the farm, he slashed .321/.408/.552.

Lamb isn’t without his supporters as he heads into his age-25 season. Eno Sarris has predicted he’ll hit 20 home runs, and just last week August Fagerstrom called him one of the Real Winners of Spring Training.

Lamb discussed his hitting approach, which includes a healthy dose of line drives to the left-center-field gap, prior to the D-Backs breaking camp to begin the 2016 campaign.

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Lamb on his up-the-middle approach: “For the most part, my stock approach is to hit the ball hard to center field. I’m trying to line out to the center fielder. In saying that, what I really want is to hit a low line drive. If I’m a little late on a heater, hopefully I’ll hit it over the shortstop. If I’m a little early, it will be the right-center gap.

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The Diamondbacks Are Already Screwed

I know this goes against the spirit of opening day, when anything can happen and everyone’s tied for first place. Opening day is a magical time precisely because no one’s yet been mathematically eliminated. The season hasn’t started to go down any path, which means the season could still go down any path conceivable. On opening day, everyone’s supposed to be happy; everyone’s supposed to be jazzed about baseball, because there’s not yet any reason not to be. Baseball’s back! It’s been a long time. The Royals just proved the numbers wrong the last time around. Maybe now it’s another team’s turn.

If you’re a fan in New York, you’re excited about baseball. If you’re a fan in Atlanta, you’re excited about baseball. If you’re a fan in Arizona, you’re excited about baseball. But: One of the dominant spring-training storylines was that the Dodgers were being undone by injury after injury. And it’s true; The Dodgers have already had their depth challenged, because they’ve got a busy disabled list. Yet, the Dodgers came equipped with reinforcements, so it seems like they should be able to handle this. Right at the end of spring training, the Diamondbacks lost A.J. Pollock. They might’ve lost him for the entire season. With one blow, Arizona has probably been hurt more than Los Angeles, and while anything is still able to happen, it’s a devastating turn of events. Their season hasn’t started yet, and the Diamondbacks might well be screwed.

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Meet the Newest Underrated Diamondback

When we’ve written about the Diamondbacks this offseason, we’ve highlighted their seeming lack of depth, behind the stars. They appeared to be in position to give too much playing time to potential zeroes, potential zeroes like Yasmany Tomas. Tomas, of course, cost the Diamondbacks a fortune, and he remains plenty young and capable of turning things around, but he’s coming off a terrible season. You don’t want to guarantee anything to that kind of player. Turns out, the Diamondbacks don’t need to.

Some years ago, you easily could’ve argued Paul Goldschmidt was the most underrated player in baseball. Later on, A.J. Pollock became maybe the most underrated player in baseball, and then, David Peralta looked super underrated, and Ender Inciarte looked the same. Maybe there’s enough here to call it a pattern. And, now the team has a new candidate. He hasn’t proven anything yet, so he’s not underrated on the Peralta or Inciarte level, but it’s time to look out for Socrates Brito. All anyone cared about was the name. It’s become time to care about the player.

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The Man Who’s as Strong as Giancarlo Stanton

I remember writing an article a few years ago about Michael Bourn. The article was built around something I’d seen on the ESPN Home Run Tracker. I didn’t think of Bourn as being a strong hitter. You don’t think of Bourn as being a strong hitter. I imagine Bourn doesn’t even think of himself as being a strong hitter. But he hit this one home run, off Jeff Suppan in April 2009. According to the website, the homer went 457 feet, which is 31 feet longer than any other Bourn homer in his big-league career. The way I interpreted that, it hinted at Bourn’s absolute power ceiling. He doesn’t spend a lot of time around his ceiling, of course, but you can’t really fake such a big dinger. It was interesting to me, at least — interesting enough that I haven’t forgotten about it.

I was reminded of that research and article by something Peter O’Brien just did.

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Shelby Miller on Changing His Mix

Shelby Miller’s pitch usage changed last year. Per PITCHf/x, his cutter percentage jumped from 5.8% to 20.7% while his curveball percentage fell from 19.5% to 9.7%. He also employed his fastball differently. His four-seam — a pitch known for its explosiveness — was thrown just 32.7% of the time, down from 61.6%. Conversely, his two-seam percentage climbed from 10.3% to 33.8% (and his ground-ball rate rose from 39.9% to 47.7%).

The hard-throwing right-hander’s changeup usage remained relatively static, inching down from 2.4% to 2.2%.

Miller had success with his new approach. In his first-and-only season with the Braves, the former Cardinal established a new career high in innings pitched, and his 3.02 ERA, 3.45 FIP and 0.57 HR/9 were career lows.

Earlier this week, I asked the 25-year-old Arizona Diamondback about the thought-process behind his changes, and whether we might see anything different this season.

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Miller on throwing more two-seamers: “I knew it could help me get deeper into games and be a more efficient pitcher. In 2013 and 2014, in St. Louis, I relied on my four-seamer a lot. I’d go five innings, five-plus, six once in awhile. I wasn’t getting deep; I wasn’t getting into to the seventh and eighth like I wanted to.

“I throw a lot of fastballs. When you throw four-seams the whole time, guys foul them off. And it’s flat, so they see it better. I know that mine [has good carry], so I do use it a lot up in the zone. It’s still one of my favorite pitches. It’s what I control the best and I rely on it a lot.

“When you’re only throwing a four-seamer, guys see it and see it and see it. I think you have to mix it up. A sinker is a great pitch. It looks like a four-seam fastball and at the last second it moves. It has a couple inches of sink, which can be the difference between a fly ball and a ground ball.

“The sinker allows me to give a hitter a different look. Everybody is different. Some hitters are better than others, and some people hit sinkers better than others. It’s really more about going in with a game plan. You’re not trying to overpower guys with sinkers. It’s more a pitch for double-play situations and early in the count when you’re trying to get ground balls. You have longer at bats and you have shorter at-bats, and my motto is, ‘Try to get guys out with three pitches or less.’”

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Konerko, Greinke, and a Swing That Contained Multitudes

Let’s start with the video. And then the words. Because you might not spot everything in the video the first time through. It sorta looks like an everyday foul ball, maybe with some sort of inside joke at the end. Trust me, though, this moment is fairly epic.

Paul Konerko‘s reaction provides our first clue that something was a bit different about this swing. He’s animated, talking to the third base coach about something. Zack Greinke‘s doing a bit of stomping around after he watches it go.

“There are guys that take so quickly that it almost forces you to throw strikes,” Greinke told me at Spring Training earlier this month. “Paul Konerko, he would change his stances all the time, but there was this one time where he had this new stance where it looked like he wasn’t even getting ready and then all of a sudden you go and he’d swing.”

I laughed out loud. He was quick-pitching you! “Yeah,” Greinke agreed. “Before release, I think, oh, he’s taking, and you’d get overconfident. He only did that for a month or so.”

Go back and look at the video. It’s not quite a bat on the shoulder, but there is something about Konerko’s setup that seems lackadaisical. Given the 1-0 count, it looks like he’s waiting for Greinke to get himself in a deeper hole. “A guy like that, you think most pitchers would be coming with the fastball, but he’s liable to give you another slider out of the zone,” agreed Konerko when contacted by phone about the at-bat. “And then sometimes, he’d even take something off when he was supposed to come at you.”

So maybe Konerko was just taking, and that’s why it took him so long to get ready? Not quite. It did take him a long time to get ready back then. On purpose. “I used to be too tense too early before the pitch came,” Konerko remembered, “so sometimes I would wait to see how long I could wait. I was so ready to hit that it didn’t help me.” So, in the footage here, Konerko actually is attempting to chill out as long as possible, but not so much to mislead Greinke as to prepare himself optimally.

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Adam LaRoche Was One of the Best 29th Round Picks Ever

Adam LaRoche may or may not be retiring. It certainly seems as though he is, and it seems as though his decision was made abruptly. While that may not be 100 percent certain, now seems like a good time to look back on his career. On one hand, LaRoche was sort of a letdown, in that he never really took off the way it seemed like he might. On the other hand, LaRoche was a huge success, and should be celebrated as such.
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KATOH Projects: Arizona Diamondbacks Prospects

Previous editions: Baltimore / Boston / Chicago AL / Chicago NL / Cincinnati  / Cleveland / Colorado / Detroit / Houston / Kansas City / Los Angeles (AL) / Miami / Minnesota / Milwaukee / New York (NL)

Way back in November, before I had finished tweaking my KATOH model, lead prospect analyst Dan Farnsworth published his excellently in-depth prospect list for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In this companion piece, I finally get around to looking at that same Arizona farm system through the lens of my recently refined KATOH projection system. The Diamondbacks have the 21st best farm system according to KATOH.

There’s way more to prospect evaluation than just the stats, so if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you read Dan’s piece in addition to this one. KATOH has no idea how hard a pitcher throws, how good a hitter’s bat speed is, or what a player’s makeup is like. So it’s liable to miss big on players whose tools don’t line up with their performances. However, when paired with more scouting-based analyses, KATOH’s objectivity can be useful in identifying talented players who might be overlooked by the industry consensus or highly-touted prospects who might be over-hyped.

Below, I’ve grouped prospects into three groups: those who are forecast for two or more wins through their first six major-league seasons, those who receive a projection between 1.0 and 2.0 WAR though their first six seasons, and then any residual players who received Future Value (FV) grades of 45 or higher from Dan. Note that I generated forecasts only for players who accrued at least 200 plate appearances or batters faced last season. Also note that the projections for players over a relatively small sample are less reliable, especially when those samples came in the low minors. Read the rest of this entry »


Willie Bloomquist Was a Lot of Things

Retirement announcements are seldom surprising, because even from the outside it’s pretty simple to tell when a player has outlived his utility. Willie Bloomquist is 38, now, and after spending the offseason making up his mind, he tweeted the following last Friday:

Bloomquist is hanging them up, which means Bloomquist articles on analytical websites must also hang them up. In a way it’s amazing Bloomquist achieved such Internet fame in the first place, being a career reserve, but his name meant a little something over the years, and here, for one last time, I want to talk about what Willie Bloomquist was.

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Sal Perez and Awarding Contract Extensions Out of Fairness

Earlier this week, Salvador Perez and the Kansas City Royals agreed on a second contract extension. In terms of financial need or justification for the Royals, there weren’t any compelling reasons for the Royals to sign Perez to another extension when his previous contract kept Perez under control through the 2019 season. Even with no extensions, Perez would not have been a free agent until after this season. In his analysis of the deal, Jeff Sullivan focused on the human element of the deal and being fair to Perez. Ken Rosenthal wondered if this would start a trend and named a few other players who might benefit from teams deciding to be a bit more fair. Perez is certainly not the first player to sign a very team-friendly deal, but he is also not the first player to be awarded a second deal despite having a number of years still left on his first contract.

In Rosenthal’s piece, he acknowledges that Perez was a “special case,” noting that the Royals catcher had recorded just 158 plate appearances at the time he signed the contract. That lack of experience led to a very low guarantee and the three team options that would have prevented Perez from reaching free agency for another four seasons. While acknowledging both the lack of need and the recognition of fairness, Rosenthal suggested six other players who might fit the same bill as Perez, although perhaps on a smaller scale given their larger guarantees: Paul Goldschmidt, Anthony Rizzo, Jose Altuve, Chris Sale, Madison Bumgarner and Chris Archer.

On the whole, these types of extensions save massive amounts of money for teams, but we can take a look at the contracts Rosenthal discusses and compare them to Perez’s to see if they are actually close. The first few columns of the table below should be self-explanatory, but the last column, FA Surplus Value, might not be. To calculate the surplus value, I took current projections, applied standard aging curves, set the cost of a win at $8 million for this year along with 5% increases in years thereafter and compared the value of the projected production to the cost for free agent years only. For the players below, their arbitration salaries have also been at a discount, so if you want to include those values, feel free to add on another 20% or so (whichever number you feel like) to capture that discount as well.

Bargain Contract Extensions
Player Years Left (w options) Dollars Left (w options) FA before Contract FA after Contract FA Surplus Value
Sale 4 $47.25 M 2016 2019 $118.2 M
Rizzo 6 $59.0 M 2018 2021 $104.1 M
Bumgarner 4 45.25 M 2016 2019 $84.9 M
Goldschmidt 4 $40.0 M 2017 2019 $68.5 M
Perez 4 $16.75 M 2016 2019 $67.0 M
Altuve 4 $20.5 M 2017 2019 $49.9 M
Archer 6 $45.25 M 2019 2021 $45.9 M

Rosenthal did a very good job identifying the super-team-friendly contracts. Perez falls right in the middle of those contracts in terms of surplus value, but what makes his case different is the very low salary-level in relation to the other players — this, even if his options had been picked up. The top-four players on that list are massive bargains, but at least they will be paid around $10 million or more per year — double that of Perez. Altuve is in nearly the same boat as Perez in terms of salary, but he gave up just two years of free agency, which limits the surplus value.

Looking back through MLB Trade Rumors’ extension tracker, I identified players who were locked up to a second extension while still possessing multiple years on their first one. The idea: to find some sort of precedent for the Perez contract, or perhaps something closer to the situations of Sale, Bumgarner, Goldschmidt and Rizzo. Certain names come to mind immediately when considering players who’ve received a second extension while still playing on the first. Miguel Cabrera, for example. And Ryan Howard. These are classic cases of a team mistakenly extending players before they’d have to, but neither case is really similar to Perez’.

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FanGraphs Arizona Meetup — Friday, 3/11/16

Baseball has started, sort of, and it’s time to have a meetup. Don’t worry about the team projections, all of our teams are still in it, at least until April. Please come drink, rosterbate, and theorize with the following writers at OHSO Brewery in Scottsdale, Arizona on Friday, March 11th, at 6pm. Free appetizers for attendees!

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Why We Hate the Diamondbacks

A year ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks went 79-83. Over the winter, they signed Zack Greinke and Tyler Clippard as free agents, plus they notably traded for Shelby Miller and Jean Segura. Reinforced with one of the game’s best pitchers, a quality starter, a good reliever, and a middle infielder with a pulse, we currently have the 2016 Diamondbacks projected to go… 79-83. And not surprisingly, Arizona’s GM doesn’t think we’re going to be right on this one.

Q: Does that make any sense to you? You add Greinke, you add Miller, and the math boys say you are not going to win any more games?

Stewart: “Jack, I think out there there are a lot of people that don’t want us to win. For those people that don’t want us to win, that’s OK. We’re still going to play the game the same way. We embrace the challenge every day of coming out and playing and doing the things that we’re capable of doing. And those who think that we’re a 78-win team, you know what? That’s what they think. When you start making predictions like that and you keep coming up wrong, you lose credibility.”

Q: Why do you think there are people who want you to lose?

Stewart: “I think the way that we do things. We’re a baseball team here. We believe in our team and how we play the game. I just think, in everything, there is always everyone who doesn’t want to see you do well. Obviously, anybody who says we can only win 78 games, they’re either not thinking or they’re not believing that what we have here is a team that’s capable of winning more games than that. So when I say that there are people out there who do not want us to win, that’s a prime example of that. To think we will only win 78 games? That’s a joke.”

Q: Do you think they are taking a shot at the old school, fundamental approach?

Stewart: “I try not to even think with people like that. I try to think with the people who think logically. And if you are thinking logically and we won 79 games last year, with the additions of Greinke, Miller, Clippard, Segura, people that make your team better, I think it is impossible for us to only win 78 games. Like I said, they predicted we would lose 96 last year.”

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MLB Farm Systems Ranked by Surplus WAR

You smell that? It’s baseball’s prospect-list season. The fresh top-100 lists — populated by new names as well as old ones — seem to be popping up each day. With the individual rankings coming out, some organization rankings are becoming available, as well. I have always regarded the organizational rankings as subjective — and, as a result, not 100% useful. Utilizing the methodology I introduced in my article on prospect evaluation from this year’s Hardball Times Annual, however, it’s possible to calculate a total value for every team’s farm system and remove the biases of subjectivity. In what follows, I’ve used that same process to rank all 30 of baseball’s farm systems by the surplus WAR they should generate.

I provide a detailed explanation of my methodology in the Annual article. To summarize it briefly, however, what I’ve done is to identify WAR equivalencies for the scouting grades produced by Baseball America in their annual Prospect Handbook. The grade-to-WAR conversion appears as follows.

Prospect Grade to WAR Conversion
Prospect Grade Total WAR Surplus WAR
80 25.0 18.5
75 18.0 13.0
70 11.0 9.0
65 8.5 6.0
60 4.7 3.0
55 2.5 1.5
50 1.1 0.5
45 0.4 0.0

To create the overall totals for this post, I used each team’s top-30 rankings per the most recent edition of Baseball America’ Prospect Handbook. Also accounting for those trades which have occurred since the BA rankings were locked down, I counted the number of 50 or higher-graded prospects (i.e. the sort which provide surplus value) in each system. The results follows.
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Lorenzo Cain and A.J. Pollock Sign Atypical Contracts

In yet another sign that baseball season is coming ever closer, the arbitration process this year is coming to a close. Many players signed one-year deals before the teams and players exchanged numbers last month, while others exchanged numbers and struck one-year deals. A few players have actually gone to arbitration. Four players — Lorenzo Cain, Josh Donaldson, J.D. Martinez, and A.J. Pollock — agreed to two-year deals with their teams, buying out no free-agent seasons, but ensuring both parties that arbitration would not be necessary next year. These two-year deals are common and typically come with a discount for the team. For the four players who signed this season, however, there was no discount.

The arbitration process is set up to provide a discount to teams in the years just before free agency. The players get their first taste of actual millions while the team retains control of the player at a price much less than what the market would yield — all without having to mark a multi-year commitment. Some players sign extensions which takie them through free agency while others are non-tendered and set free by clubs who think that even the small, arbitration-produced salaries are too much compared to the expected production.

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You Should Believe In David Peralta

So I’m sitting here, passing a Wednesday afternoon by scrolling through players Steamer thinks are going to be worse. Most of the time, I get it. Yoenis Cespedes, sure — last year, he had almost everything go right. With Francisco Lindor, I understand bat-related skepticism. I see why a projection system thinks Joe Panik will take a step back, and the same goes for Justin Turner and Nelson Cruz. Honestly, I get it with David Peralta, too. I see why Steamer thinks what it thinks. All the reasons are right there on the player page. I just think in Peralta’s case in particular, there are positive traits that should lift the expectations. Allow me to make the argument.

We haven’t written that often about Peralta, although it was just a few months ago Dave suggested he might be baseball’s most underrated player. That would be fitting, since one of baseball’s other most underrated players is outfield-mate A.J. Pollock. There’s no defining or studying underratedness, so I don’t know quite where Peralta should rank, but he’s inarguably on the list. Dave pointed to some of the numbers he’d put up. I want to point to some other numbers, some numbers I think are especially encouraging.

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An Inconclusive Exploration of Paul Goldschmidt’s Passivity

I don’t believe I’m out of line when I say that, of life’s most enjoyable pleasures, many are to be used, collected, consumed, or practiced in moderation. “You can have too much of a good thing,” they say. Food and alcohol, for example. Both delightful. Both substances which, were I unaware of the consequences of surplus consumption, I would regularly consume in excess. Both substances, in fact, which I do regularly consume in excess, despite being completely aware of the consequences. Likewise, I’ve taken nary a vacation which I didn’t find overindulgent. Don’t get me wrong — a break from the norm for a bit of traveling is always welcome, but I’m perpetually exhausted by the degree of stimulation that comes with falling asleep and waking up in a new bed, having to process an unfamiliar environment and having to create and enact routines that differ from the ones to which I am accustomed. Perhaps I’m just outing myself as a homebody, but without fail, I long for the comforts of a familiar bed, environment, and routine approximately 24-48 hours prior to the conclusion of any extended trip.

I recently sought to find an example of overindulgence in a baseball. A player whose approach, for example, was perhaps hindered by too much of a good thing. It was sort of an offshoot of the post I wrote yesterday which concerned Miguel Sano‘s surprisingly disciplined approach against breaking balls. In that post, I found, among other things, that Sano took plenty of early at-bat breaking pitches for balls, and so he found himself in plenty of hitter’s counts, and not only that, but he capitalized on his abundant hitter’s counts by amping up his aggression and attacking pitchers when he had the upper hand.

It’s a fairly fundamental strategy, but there’s a most extreme everything, and someone had to be on the other end. There has to be someone who finds themselves in plenty of hitter’s counts but, for whatever reason, actually becomes notably less aggressive and less attack-oriented when they hold count leverage over the pitcher.

So I ran some BaseballSavant queries and I produced a couple lists in a spreadsheet that showed me overall swing rate, and ahead-in-the-count swing rate, and I calculated the difference between the two. Some interesting names popped up near the top — Xander Bogaerts, Matt Carpenter, Anthony Rizzo — but something seemed off, and I realized an unaccounted-for variable in my search: not all batters are pitched the same when they’re ahead in the count. Certain hitters get far more or fewer pitches to hit when ahead in the count, and so their swing rates are partly dictated by the pitcher. To control for this, it would be wiser to search only for the difference between overall in-zone swing rate and ahead-in-the-count in-zone swing rate. This was a search that yielded a particularly intriguing result.

Most Passive Hitters in Hitter’s Counts
name OVR Z-Swing% AHD Z-Swing% Z-Swing% DIF
Paul Goldschmidt 62.4% 46.8% -15.6%
Adam Eaton 61.7% 47.3% -14.4%
Jace Peterson 64.8% 53.1% -11.6%
DJ LeMahieu 64.1% 52.5% -11.5%
Ben Zobrist 56.6% 45.5% -11.0%

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Howie Kendrick, Jean Segura, and Arizona’s Latest Mistake

Over the weekend, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks made a pair of related transactions. On Friday night, after failing to find a suitor due to the specter of a potential lost draft choice, Howie Kendrick re-signed with the Dodgers for a relative pittance; $20 million over the next two years. Given that Kendrick turned down the qualifying offer, which would have guaranteed him $15.8 million for just the 2016 season alone, Kendrick had to settle for far less than he thought he would get this off-season, and at that price, the Dodgers decided the value was too good to pass up, even though they didn’t really need another infielder.

Kendrick is better than Chase Utley and he should make the team better in both 2016 and 2017; however, they did surrender the possibility of obtaining a compensation pick if another team had eventually decided he was too good to pass up at that price as well.

For a good chunk of the winter, the assumption was that a team would make that choice, and for the last few months, the Dimaondbacks looked liked the obvious fit. General manager Dave Stewart publicly talked about his desire to add some offense at the top of the order to replace Ender Inciarte, and some combination of Chris Owings and Aaron Hill didn’t inspire a lot of confidence that second base was going to be well-handled in 2016. The D-Backs had talks with Kendrick, and had tried to trade for Brandon Phillips, so it was clear that they wanted to make a move for a more established second baseman, pushing Owings into the utility role that he’s probably better suited for.

But, after having surrendered the 13th pick to sign Zack Greinke, the Diamondbacks became fiercely protective of the 39th overall pick, a competitive-balance selection they were awarded that they would have to surrender if they signed Kendrick (or Ian Desmond, another free agent would could have helped them). Stewart even stated outright that they weren’t going to give up that pick:

“We’re not going to give up the pick,” Stewart said of the D-backs, who have the 39th selection (Competitive Balance Round A). “It’s just tough after we’ve already given up our first pick. To give up our top two picks, that would be difficult for us to do.”

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The Diamondbacks Have a Howie Kendrick Alternative

There’s been sort of a will-they/won’t-they thing going on with Arizona this offseason. They’re the team that probably makes the most sense for free agent Howie Kendrick. Kendrick is a second baseman, the Diamondbacks could arguably use a second baseman, and the front office there has made it clear they want to win in the season ahead. So, Kendrick would make them better, and I think they realize that, but there are these hurdles. There’s only so much money left to spend, and Dave Stewart has voiced a reluctance to give up another draft pick (currently slotted at No. 39).

Even now, Kendrick still fits. A strong market hasn’t developed, at least not publicly, and Arizona still has that potential infield hole. Though it’s noble to want to keep your draft picks, the 39th pick isn’t worth nearly as much as a higher one, so that shouldn’t be a major stumbling block. Kendrick might therefore end up remaining in the National League West, but he isn’t the only available possibility. In fact, you could argue Ian Desmond fits even better.

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