Now the question is ‘what’s next?’
Arizona gave it their best shot in landing free agent Japanese pitching sensation Masahiro Tanaka, but came up short. They were willing to go six years on a contract in the vicinity of $20 million per season, but it wasn’t enough.
On Tuesday night, Diamondbacks’ brass was informed that they were out of the running, that Tanaka was going elsewhere. And so the ace of the staff that they desperately need to compete in the National League West will have to come from elsewhere.
More than likely it is highly-regarded pitching prospect Archie Bradley who will fill the gap. Who it won’t be is A.J. Burnett, Bronson Arroyo or Ubaldo Jimenez.
Arizona is not interested in signing any of those players to a long-term contract and they shouldn’t be. Tanaka was viewed as the only difference maker in the free agent pitching class. Those other pitchers, while good, are not difference makers. The Diamondbacks aren’t going to handicap their future by tying themselves down to a long-term contract on a decent pitcher. They want a 1 or a 2 and none of the pitchers currently available in free agency are that.
Now if the market on those players comes down, Arizona could be willing to sign one to a one-year contract and add them to the rotation. But the new goal is to reload for next year to have a shot at a star pitcher like David Price, Max Scherzer, Jon Lester or Homer Bailey via trade or free agency.
The worst thing Arizona can do now is panic. They didn’t get Tanaka and that sucks, but you don’t rebound by throwing a boat load of money at a number-three pitcher just to say you did something.
Save the money and bypass the temptation to nab one of the remaining free agent pitchers — unless they are willing to sign for one year — and be a player again next year for that ace.