The GM's Office: Arizona Diamondbacks

10 bold predictions for this offseason 

November, 20, 2014
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videoMajor League Baseball's offseason is in full swing, complete with 13-year contracts, a trade including a Gold Glover and a good, young pitcher, and a key free-agent signing or two. But that's just the beginning of this wild and wooly offseason.

With that, here are 10 bold predictions I see happening in the weeks ahead:

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1. Jon Lester re-signs with the Boston Red Sox

Most analysts think Lester has pitched his last game for the Red Sox. … I'm not one of them. I think the Chicago Cubs will offer the most years (six) and dollars, but a return to Boston for fewer years (five) and less money is my prediction. The Red Sox desperately need a top-of-rotation starter and won't be a legitimate contender unless they get one. Lester was happy in Boston, and unless the Cubs blow the Sox's offer away, I think that's where he lands.


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2. Marlins sign James Shields

The Marlins shocked the baseball world with the signing of Giancarlo Stanton to a 13-year deal, and they'll do it again by landing a top-of-rotation starter.

Trade deadline objectives: NL West 

July, 27, 2014
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Ben ZobristRob Tringali/MLB Photos/Getty ImagesThe Giants already added Jake Peavy and could target an upgrade at second base as well.
Deadline objectives: NL East | NL Central | NL West | AL East | AL Central | AL West

The five teams in the National League West have stratified themselves into two distinct classes as the trade deadline and the final portion of the season approach. The San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers continue to jostle for the division title while the San Diego Padres, Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies are all at least 11 games back as of Sunday.

The teams have been active on the trade front, as the Padres shipped Huston Street and Chase Headley off recently and the Giants made a major acquisition Saturday, landing Jake Peavy. But the division's buyers still have some remaining needs, and the division's sellers still have some valuable pieces that can help to restock their farm system.

Here's a breakdown of what each team is buying or selling, along with a trade that I'd like to see each franchise make:

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Martin PradoAP Photo/David GoldmanMartin Prado is a career .291 hitter and a versatile player defensively.
Over the course of July, Jim Bowden will be looking at a number of high-profile trade candidates and explain what it would take for certain clubs to acquire that player.

Player: Martin Prado | 3B | Arizona Diamondbacks

Possible destinations: Toronto Blue Jays, San Francisco Giants


Toronto Blue Jays

Why? The Blue Jays are in dire need of good right-handed hitters, as they've struggled against left-handed pitchers all season.

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Jeff SamardzijaScott Cunningham/Getty ImagesWith Toronto desperately in need of pitching, Jeff Samardzija would fit in well.
General managers use the first two months of the season to evaluate their teams, then try to improve the team through trades or calling up top prospects in the next two months. Then they try to tweak the team with waiver deals and September call-ups in the last two months.

Given this, teams are mainly concentrating on the draft and don’t focus full-time on trades until after the draft (June 5-7). However, GMs still are talking to each other and laying the foundation for deals. This includes letting other GMs know their interest in a particular player and at least offer a fair chance to trade for that player. Many GMs are also letting other teams know exactly who’s available and who’s untouchable.

Most of the big trades happen between the All-Star Game and the July 31 trade deadline as well as in August via waiver deals. Of course, that doesn’t mean there aren’t deals in May or June, and I like to think of these deals as "appetizer" trades, with the entrees coming closer to July 31. Often, these are minor deals, like when Chris Nelson was dealt from the Colorado Rockies to the New York Yankees last May. However, we sometimes get major deals in May.

For example, it was mid-May 1998 when the Dodgers traded Mike Piazza to the Marlins, who then traded him to the Mets a week later.

With 27 of the 30 teams within four games of the playoffs coming into the weekend, it is safe to assume there will be fewer teams "selling" than normal. More likely trades will be made between contenders that match up in roster depth and weaknesses.

Here are some possible "appetizer" trades I would like to see that would fill some important needs of these contending teams:

1. Toronto Blue Jays acquire RHP Jeff Samardzija from the Chicago Cubs

OK, this is not a traditional "appetizer" deal, and is more in line with those aforementioned Piazza deals. The Blue Jays lead the AL in home runs and are third in runs scored. They might have the best lineup in the AL East. However, for the Blue Jays to contend all season, they must make a trade for a starting pitcher.

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Top 10 early trade candidates 

May, 12, 2014
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David PriceKim Klement/USA TODAY SportsIn what has become a yearly refrain, David Price should be on the July 31 deadline trading block.
The July 31 trade deadline is a little less than three months away. While every team is focused primarily on the draft right now, they’re also realizing that because of the sport’s parity and competitive balance, there could be fewer “sellers” at this year’s deadline than perhaps we’ve seen in decades.

In fact, there are just three teams more than 4 games out of the postseason: the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs and Arizona Diamondbacks.

I expect that group of teams to grow between now and the middle of July, but it will be no larger than more than seven or eight teams. With so few sellers expected, the asking prices for top talent will be exorbitant.

Here is my early list of 10 trade candidates to watch:

1. David Price | LHP | Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays are hoping to be in a pennant race come the end of July, but after the season-ending injury to Matt Moore and a below .500 start, Price will have to be considered the early most sought after trade candidate in baseball. General manager Andrew Friedman knows that he’ll get more value for Price at the July trade deadline than he will in the offseason with only one year left on Price’s contract.

Further hurting Friedman's leverage is the fact that Price is off to a slow start, and he'll be hoping to get a haul similar to the one he received for James Shields prior to the 2013 season.

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So far this season we have been treated to a number of exciting young rookies, such as George Springer, Billy Hamilton, Nick Castellanos and Yordano Ventura (not to mention Masahiro Tanaka and Jose Abreu, though they aren't traditional rookies).

The good news for baseball fans is that there is another wave of prospects ready to join them soon. Here is my list of seven top prospects whom I am most excited about and will likely be called up before the All-Star Game.

I communicated with all of their general managers this week to get an update on their progress:

1. Gregory Polanco | OF | Pittsburgh Pirates

The Pirates' long-term outfield blueprint has been clear for the past couple of years: Starling Marte in left, Andrew McCutchen in center and Polanco in right. When Polanco arrives, he will complete the best overall Pirates outfield since 1990, when Barry Bonds was in left, Andy Van Slyke was in center and Bobby Bonilla was in right.

Polanco, 22, is tearing up Triple-A, batting .400/.457/.632.

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How I'd fix the Diamondbacks 

April, 18, 2014
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Mark TrumboMark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Entering the season, many people saw the Arizona Diamondbacks as a .500 team with an outside shot at the playoffs. After a 4-14 start, those postseason odds seem remote because not only is this team losing, it's getting crushed -- with a run differential that would be comparable to the '62 Mets if prorated over a full season.

The D-backs have made a lot of mistakes in recent years in their attempt to mimic the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, teams that have thrived by targeting "high-character" players. The difference is that Arizona did this at the expense of talent, something Boston or St. Louis never did.

For example, the trades of Justin Upton and Adam Eaton were both made with team chemistry in mind, but those players are better than the guys who replaced them -- Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock. And the D-backs also had to give up Tyler Skaggs in the Eaton deal, a quality young starter they could desperately use right now.

So what should Arizona do? A lot of fans probably want to see GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson fired, but I don't think that is the solution. They were both recently given contract extensions -- terms were not disclosed -- but they have good continuity with president Derrick Hall and owner Ken Kendrick, and continuity is a virtue.

I'd like to think that Towers and Gibson can learn from recent mistakes and start rebuilding the team with talent as the priority. The good news for the D-backs is they have some intriguing trade assets.

Trade bait

Looking at Arizona's roster, four names jump out to me as trade candidates: Aaron Hill, Martin Prado, Miguel Montero and Trumbo.

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Five offseason moves that will backfire 

March, 26, 2014
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Shin-Soo ChooJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsThe Texas Rangers might have wildly overpaid for free-agent outfielder Shin-Soo Choo.
When a general manager makes a trade or a free-agent signing, he must always have significant justification for why the move was made. This could include:

• Scouting reports
• Advanced metrics and analytics
• Medical reports
• Evaluations of makeup and character
• Financial considerations
• Roster structure
• Team needs to wants

Most GMs will provide owners with at least 20 pages of documentation supporting any significant move. By the time everyone evaluates why the decision was made most of the organization should believe the move was made in the best interest of the organization.

However, after all the preparation and analysis is done, the decision is right only until something goes wrong. That could be an injury, a decline in performance, a personal problem that changes the player’s focus, a change of vibe in the clubhouse or even a change of league or position that all of a sudden makes the move go wrong, leaving the club with nothing but regrets.

Of course, anyone who's ever been a GM, president or owner would love to have a mulligan or two during their careers. Looking at this year’s offseason moves, here are the five that will backfire, either by season’s end or sometime in the next few years.

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Chris OwingsJoe Camporeale/USA TODAY SportsIt looks like Chris Owings -- not Didi Gregorius -- will be Arizona's Opening Day shortstop.
This week we checked in at several camps, including the Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics. We continue our tour through the Cactus League, with a couple of stop in NL camps, both of which are located at the gorgeous facility in Talking Stick, Ariz., that is shared by the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks. Let's look at the buzz surrounding their spring camps thus far:

Arizona Diamondbacks

• I'm hearing that Chris Owings will be the everyday shortstop.

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10 guys scouts are raving about 

March, 10, 2014
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Ryan ZimmermanGreg Fiume/Getty ImagesRyan Zimmerman's shoulder is finally healthy, which should help him at third and at the plate.

While you never like to put too much stock in spring training performance, there is no question that scouts, coaches and execs take notice when a player looks particularly good during camp. I'm not talking about the stat sheet, but rather their actions on the field, which could be anything from their swing, to their fastball, to the way they move.

Here are 10 players who have evaluators excited this year.

1. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B, Washington Nationals

Zimmerman is taking some grounders at first base this spring, but that is only to give the Nationals more lineup flexibility when a left-hander is on the mound. He looks great at third this spring and his arm strength has returned. This will allow him to once again play a deeper third base and restore his inclusion within any Gold Glove conversation. More important for fantasy players, with a healthy right shoulder for the first time in years, they should anticipate a return to his 2009 numbers.

2. Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants

Around the trade deadline last July, Belt made some significant changes at the plate.

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Rookies I can't wait to scout this spring 

February, 12, 2014
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Every year at spring training there is a lot of focus on the star players who switched teams, with Robinson Cano being a prime example this year. However, what I am most excited about for this spring is the chance to scout some of the game's top rookies.

It’s fun to watch young players develop in real time, and to see if they can do enough to convince their managers and GMs to take them up north. It’s a time when the game’s best evaluators get a taste of just how good some young players can be.

So here are 10 rookies I am looking forward to scouting during spring training. And trust me, just getting the list down to 10 was not easy.

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Arroyo gives Arizona flexibility 

February, 7, 2014
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The Arizona Diamondbacks came into the winter hoping to acquire an ace, and they were rumored to be involved in trade talks for David Price and Jeff Samardzija, and they also pursued Masahiro Tanaka. Unfortunately, they were never able to get the No. 1 starter they coveted, but they did make sure to acquire a starting pitching, signing Bronson Arroyo to a two-year, $19 million deal that features an $11 million club option and a $4.5 million buyout if the option is declined.

Although not a front-of-the-rotation starter, Arroyo is incredibly consistent, and he gives the D-backs a lot of flexibility in their rotation.

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Post-Tanaka moves that will happen 

January, 22, 2014
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As you have probably heard by now, Masahiro Tanaka has agreed to a seven-year, $155 million contract with the New York Yankees. As Buster Olney noted Wednesday morning, this won’t necessarily set off the free-agent dominoes, but the deal does have serious implications for the suitors that missed out on Tanaka -- the Los Angeles Dodgers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels -- as well as the remaining free-agent pitchers.

Here’s how I see things playing out from here.

1. Angels and D-backs will battle for Garza

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The missing link for every NL team 

January, 14, 2014
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Clayton KershawAP Photo/Jeff RobersonThe Dodgers likely will cease chasing Masahiro Tanaka after Clayton Kershaw gets his extension.
For the vast majority of major league teams, pitchers and catchers will report to spring training exactly a month from now. Usually teams are simply fine-tuning their rosters, whether it's that last utility bench guy or an additional bullpen arm.

But with teams from both leagues waiting on the fate of free-agent pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, many teams still have significant moves they must make to shape their team into a championship club. What is the missing link for each team? On Tuesday I will focus on the National League teams and Wednesday I’ll present the American League.

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST

Arizona Diamondbacks

Missing link: Top-of-the-rotation starter
Solution: Sign RHP Masahiro Tanaka or Ervin Santana or Matt Garza
Both general manager Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson’s option years for 2015 were not picked up, leading Towers to admit that both are on the hot seat to win this year. Every move they’ve made this offseason has involved trading future assets for win-now results. With this type of pressure on him, Towers knows the best way to keep his job is to add an elite starter.

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BeltranAP Photo/John MinchilloWith FAs like Carlos Beltran, it will be tough for the Yankees to stay below the tax threshold.
Some big free-agent names were signed over the holiday season, but that doesn't mean the market is dried up. With many teams waiting on the final destination of Japanese free agent Masahiro Tanaka, several quality free-agent pitchers remain, as well as some trade possibilities.

Plenty of big moves are still likely to come. So, here are my 10 bold predictions of the rest of the offseason. Not all are personnel related, but most will have significant impact on teams or the game itself.

1. New York Yankees, Los Angeles Angels go over the luxury-tax threshold
The Yankees have worked hard over the last couple of seasons to try and keep their payroll below $189 million dollars for this season, and the Angels have worked diligently this offseason to do the same.

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