Addition of Greinke, Miller to complement potent offense
By Sarah D. Morris
The Arizona Diamondbacks have not been to the postseason since 2011, but if the D-backs' offseason moves pay off, 2016 might be fun in Arizona.
The D-backs made the biggest headlines in the National League West during the offseason. After many years of spending conservatively and concentrating on developing their young players through the Minor League system, general manager Dave Stewart spent generously to upgrade the starting rotation.
Signing Zack Greinke to a six-year, $206.5 million deal stunned the baseball world. No one was surprised Greinke demanded that kind of contract after a stellar season with the Dodgers, when he narrowly missed winning the NL Cy Young award to the Cubs' Jake Arrieta. Greinke opted out of the remainder of a lucrative contract with the Dodgers to become a free agent, but most people expected Greinke to return to Los Angeles with another deal.
A few days after Johnny Cueto turned down the D-backs, Greinke accepted the D-backs' deal at the last minute, giving them a legitimate ace. Many in baseball believe Greinke is improving with age. With every year, he has become more masterful at changing speeds and improving his control to keep hitters off balance.
Stewart also obtained Shelby Miller from the Braves to bolster the staff. Miller went 6-17 last season, partly because the Braves didn't give him adequate run support. He posted a solid 3.02 ERA. The D-backs think Miller gives them a powerful one-two punch at the top of their rotation.
The D-backs still have terrific offensive production. In 2015, they scored the second-most runs in the NL (720), and they haven't changed their lineup much. Paul Goldschmidt is still the centerpiece of their offense, and at 28, he is considered the game's best all-around first baseman.
In February, the D-backs signed A.J. Pollock to a two-year contract extension. Last year, he posted the fifth-highest batting average (.315) in the NL. Pollock is an outstanding defensive center fielder who saves many runs from scoring. A sore elbow has slowed Pollock this spring, but the D-backs expect him in the Opening Day starting lineup.
Yasmany Tomas, the 25-year-old Cuban, has been slowed by a sore knee this spring, though the D-backs are confident Tomas will also be ready for the opener.
In January, Stewart also obtained Jean Segura from the Brewers. Stewart hopes Segura will improve the D-backs' offensive production at shortstop and will give them a traditional leadoff hitter. Although Nick Ahmed, the incumbent shortstop, gives the D-backs superior defense to Segura, Ahmed hit a mere .226 last season. Teams with championship aspirations can't carry a light-hitting shortstop no matter how good he is on his defense.
Stewart understands the importance of having a good starting rotation, and the D-backs' organization has developed great hitters. However, their organizational depth appears to be lacking.
It will be interesting to see how well the D-backs play this season.
Sarah D. Morris can be reached at email@example.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.