SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Each spring, prior to the first full-squad workout, Arizona Diamondbacks team president Derrick Hall addresses the team, telling them what he expects from them both on- and off-the-field.
Call it his ‘State of the Team’ speech, and the state of the D-backs is very good heading into 2016, and beyond.
With the offseason additions of starters Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, reliever Tyler Clippard and infielder Jean Segura, the D-backs believe they have assembled a team capable of contending for the playoffs.
“Realistically, if you look at it on the paper — and the problem is on paper — you would probably identify close to 10 teams that have a legitimate chance. Are we in the discussion there? Probably. But I think most experts would tell you we’re not the favorite, and that’s a good thing. We’re just going to play the game the way we should,” Hall said Tuesday at Salt River Fields.
“I feel like we have a very balanced team, but there’s a lot of really good teams. And we’re in a division that is going to be the most competitive in my estimation. You look at what the Dodgers have done; you look at what the Giants have done; what the Padres did last year — they’re still a very strong team; the Rockies have definitely improved. It’s going to be a tough season.”
The Greinke signing specifically increased the expectations for the D-backs this season, and as a result, the sale of full season ticket packages grew as well.
“With new revenues and new sales, we were 128 percent over where we were the year before, just from that point; which sounds like a huge number but it’s not a crazy number, but the percentage is very high so that’s positive,” Hall said.
Among the other items Hall discussed:
Greinke’s record $206.5 million contract including deferred salary is not the new norm
“The difference is, with our new-found revenues and with the projections that we have that are very clear, we know the money is there so we just have to be smart in how we spend it in the future; and it’s not something that we’re going to start doing now but we thought in this case we needed to, to really bite the bullet on this one.”
The projected 2016 payroll is around $100 million
“Where are challenge is going to be is in future years. Depending on those revenues, as those revenues increase so will our payroll. We’re right where we want to be, so we haven’t gone crazy with the payroll. I mean naturally we’ve committed ourselves to some high salaries, but we’re doing it, hopefully, in a very efficient way and within budget.”
There are no immediate plans to address Paul Goldschmidt’s contract, which has him under team control through 2018
“He’s a franchise player. The great thing about Goldy — and we haven’t sat down to discuss either his contract or when we will address it again — and it says a lot about him. Goldy is not one who’s pushing for it. Goldy has never expressed any sort of disappointment or discouragement nor has his camp at all, and that’s really a credit to him.”
Randy Johnson, Luis Gonzalez, Joe Carter and other former players within the organization are expected to speak to the team throughout the spring
“Having come from an organization (the L.A. Dodgers) that was rich in tradition and had a lot of those former players in uniform and a lot of those former players with their uniforms retired, numbers retired, I think it’s important to have them around to share stories, to influence. Hopefully you have a group of players that want to act as sponges and learn from them and I know we do in that room.”
Hall made it clear that the 2016 season ahead is not playoffs or bust
“As cliché as it sounds, it’s not just about this year. I mean these guys want to win, and they think they can. I think they have as good a chance as anybody, but we’re in it for, hopefully, more than just one year. This is five, six, seven years,” he said. “I know personally I’d be disappointed if we don’t make the playoffs, and I think our fans would be, too, because there’s a lot of excitement for this team, but a lot has to go right. We know that, too. I always say it, you’ve got to be healthy; you’ve got to be lucky. We haven’t been to the playoffs since 2011 that was one of those years where everything seemed to go right, even in 2007.”