Schoenfield: Center field is D-backs’ most pressing offseason concern
This winter, the Arizona Diamondbacks will decide which way to direct the franchise.
The front office could choose to rebuild around locked in corner infielders Jake Lamb and Eduardo Escobar by trading perennial all-stars Zack Greinke and Paul Goldschmidt. Or they could reload and make another playoff push behind the final year of the 31-year-old Goldschmidt’s team-friendly contract.
Whichever direction is chosen, building a baseball team from the inside out is the approach ESPN’s David Schoenfield suggests the D-backs consider. He believes they should begin the 2019 roster’s construction by looking at the center field position.
A.J. Pollock, who has started at center field for the last six seasons in Arizona, is a free agent. He is the top free agent center fielder listed by MLB.com.
Pollock became a free agent by declining his qualifying offer of one-year, $17.9 million from the D-backs this offseason, and he’s expected to garner consideration for a strong multi-year deal.
On Nov. 16, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale told 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Doug & Wolf that the Cincinnati Reds were interested in Pollock and that he expects him to sign for somewhere in the “$50-$60 million range.”
Schoenfield suggests Jake Marisnick of the Houston Astros as a potential replacement for Pollock if Arizona makes a deal involving Goldschmidt.
The Astros and Cardinals are obvious landing spots for Goldschmidt. The Cardinals, however, aren’t trading Harrison Bader. Jake Marisnick could be part of a deal with Houston. Dealing Greinke will be more difficult; the Diamondbacks would have to eat some of the salary if they want some prospects in return. If they can trade Greinke, they could even dip into the second tier of free agency to help keep the team competitive.
The 27-year-old Marisnick is five years younger than the top-five center field free agents listed by MLB.com.
Next on the current depth chart for the D-backs, should Pollock sign elsewhere, would be 34-year-old Jarrod Dyson or 26-year-old Socrates Brito, who has 168 career at-bats in the MLB.