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Fangraphs: If D-backs rebuild, some pieces for future are already in place

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte follows the flight of his single to drive in two runs off Colorado Rockies relief pitcher Adam Ottavino in the eighth inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2018, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

After a late-season collapse by the Arizona Diamondbacks, an offseason of uncertainty is now underway.

Despite competing at the top of the division for most of the regular season, Arizona finished with an 82-80 record for third in the NL West.

Writer Dan Szymborski touched on the future of the D-backs in his piece “Elegy for ’18 – Arizona Diamondbacks” for Fangraphs, writing that while the D-backs could go the rebuild route, it won’t be as bad as it has been for other clubs if they do so.

“I don’t expect a full rebuild for the team to be as painful as these sometimes go. The club does have players that can be part of the future around which they build, including Marte, Walker, Robbie Ray, etc. Rebuilds like Houston’s are especially difficult because they weren’t started until after everything of value was gone.

“Whether Arizona chooses to go the ‘let’s call a contractor’ or the ‘cool, check out this WWI-era flamethrower we found!’ path, the team is likely to finish 2019 with fewer wins than 2018.”

There’s been no clear indication as to whether or not general manager Mike Hazen will initiate a rebuild this winter. Surely there’s enough talent left on the roster to continue competing, but it’s difficult for a middle-of-the-pack team to surge into playoff contention without spending more money than they may be willing to.

At this point, the D-backs could have limited financial freedom as Fangraphs estimates their 2019 payroll to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $120 and $140 million with money already committed to players like Zack Greinke, who’s set to earn $34.5 million, per Spotrac.

Hazen and the D-backs extended qualifying offers to both A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin, who became unrestricted free agents on Nov. 3.

“We don’t have a feel for exactly how the market’s going to behave yet,” Hazen said in a post-season press conference. “They’re both great players. If they didn’t come back, we obviously have shoes to fill in that regard. But we’ll see where free agency takes us.”

Pollock was an integral piece in the D-backs’ success this season, hitting 21 home runs with 65 RBI in 460 plate appearances while Corbin posted a career-high 246 strikeouts in 33 games.

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