The Arizona Diamondbacks set out to wash away a rough 2016 season that saw them post a 69-93 record, and they started by tabbing Mike Hazen to be their general manager and naming Torey Lovullo their new skipper.
Hazen, in particular, did not waste much time putting his imprint on the roster, making a flurry of moves that were highlighted by the trade of second baseman Jean Segura to the Seattle Mariners in a deal that netted Arizona pitcher Taijuan Walker.
With spring training less than one week away, the question now is not what the Diamondbacks will do to improve, but whether or not they have done enough.
The answer? Maybe.
In an ESPN Insider article handing out offseason grades for every team, Jim Bowden gave the D-backs a C.
Offseason goals: Controllable starting pitcher, closer, backup catcher
Key acquisitions to date: Taijuan Walker, Ketel Marte, Fernando Rodney, Chris Iannetta, Jeff Mathis, Oswaldo Arcia, Sam Lewis
The Diamondbacks’ new baseball operations front office led by GM Mike Hazen is off to a solid start. In his first big trade, Hazen landed Walker and Marte. Walker was once considered one of the game’s best starting pitching prospects and still has a chance to reach that potential with great upside. Marte is a defensive whiz who should fit in nicely as a defensive replacement at both second base and shortstop. The D-backs also signed a slew of veteran players, such as catchers Iannetta and Mathis, and veteran closer Rodney. However, the team really didn’t get better, at least on paper.
As noted, Walker is clearly the prize of the offseason. The 24-year-old was 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA last season, but was 4-1 with a 2.93 ERA over his final five starts. Walker attributed the strong finish to getting healthy and working on his mechanics, and the Diamondbacks are certainly expecting the right-hander to slide right into their 2017 rotation.
Marte, who also came to Arizona in the trade, is a 23-year-old infielder who is a career .267 hitter.
Aside from Walker and, to a lesser extent, Marte, the most intriguing player the D-backs added is Rodney. The 39-year-old (he will be 40 on Opening Day) had a 2016 that can really be thought of as two different seasons.
The first half, which he spent with the San Diego Padres, saw him notch 17 saves while posting a 0.31 ERA. The second, which came after he was traded to the Miami Marlins, watched him earn eight saves and eight holds but accumulate a 5.89 ERA.
Arizona’s 2016 offseason was not nearly as flashy as its 2015 version, which saw them ink Zack Greinke to a huge contract and pull the trigger on a blockbuster trade that netted them Shelby Miller. However, while they may not have undergone a total makeover, it’s possible that with better health and some players rounding back into form, the D-backs may end up taking a step or two forward, after all.