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Diamondbacks among top stories heading into 2016

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke warms up during a spring baseball season practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., Friday, Feb. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

The Arizona Diamondbacks shocked the baseball world when they signed free agent pitcher Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206 million deal back in December.

Not content with that stunner, the Diamondbacks proceeded to trade former first-round overall pick Dansby Swanson, outfielder Ender Inciarte and pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Atlanta Braves for pitcher Shelby Miller. A deal that many have proclaimed a robbery by the Braves.

So naturally, Arizona will be under the microscope heading into the season.

ESPN writer Jerry Crasnick thinks the Diamondbacks will not fall on their faces similarly to recent big-spending teams in the offseason.

Things didn’t work out according to plan for the Padres and Mariners, two teams who entered spring training as fashionable picks a year ago. But the Diamondbacks have enough pieces to be a serious threat. Perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschimdt leads an offense that ranked second in the league with 720 runs scored, and Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller will provide lots of cover at the top of the rotation.

While it might be too optimistic to expect Greinke to replicate his 1.66 ERA from a year ago, the 32-year-old has had success at Chase Field. Greinke had a 0.65 ERA in Arizona from 2013-2015. Granted, those numbers came against the team he is on now, but he is familiar with the dimensions of the labeled “hitter’s park”.

Miller’s 2015 campaign with the Braves did not go as smoothly as Greinke’s with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Miller’s 6-17 record is the worst of his four-year career, but his wins and losses did not do justice to his 2015 performance.

Miller posted a respectable 3.02 ERA, good enough for 11th overall, but only received 2.64 run support during the season. With the Diamondbacks scoring 720 runs last season, and looking to improve upon that, Miller’s 6-17 record can easily flip to 17-6 in 2016.

Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray and Rubby De La Rosa will have to get the job done in the 3-4-5 spots in the rotation. But at the very least, the D-backs are relevant again in the NL West. If a few things go right, they’ll hang with the Giants and Dodgers well into September.

Manager Chip Hale recently named De La Rosa as the club’s fourth starter, stating the pitcher deserves the spot based on last season’s performance.

Arizona would love to be in the thick of things well into September, and focused on ending a four-year playoff drought.

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