2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks
For two years running, the Diamondbacks have sat on the fence with a .500 record. This offseason, they made an attempt to address two problem areas, but is it enough to lift them up from mediocrity?
The Snakes tied the Mets for the 25th-most home runs last season, clubbing just 130 of them, so Mark Trumbo and his 30-homer bat are welcome newcomers to the lineup. In addition to bringing some thump, Trumbo will provide some protection for Paul Goldschmidt , who emerged last year as the National League's most potent hitting first baseman. The former Angel will also add some stability to an outfield that included only one player -- Gerardo Parra -- who started more than 110 games as an outfielder in 2013.
The bullpen was another area that lacked stability, but general manager Kevin Towers acquired Addison Reed from the White Sox to handle the closing duties. Owners won't have to worry about whether J.J. Putz can stay healthy or if Brad Ziegler , David Hernandez or Heath Bell can handle the closer's role. Bell was dispatched to Tampa Bay, while Putz, Ziegler and Hernandez will set up Reed and be rendered as Fantasy afterthoughts outside of leagues that use non-closers in relief spots.
In order to get Trumbo and Reed, the Diamondbacks had to part with three potential up-and-coming stars, Adam Eaton , Tyler Skaggs and Matt Davidson , so the team is clearly in win-now mode. They are counting on Aaron Hill to bounce back from last season's broken hand, Miguel Montero to snap out of a two-year power decline and Martin Prado to continue to provide steady production. Hill and Prado join Trumbo as solid middle-round Fantasy options, while Montero is better saved for two-catcher mixed leagues.
The starting rotation appears to be set, and Patrick Corbin will likely serve as the ace rather than as the No. 5 starter that he was on opening day a year ago. Wade Miley , Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy look like locks to retains their spots, and free agent signee Bronson Arroyo will round out the rotation. Reinforcements are available, as Randall Delgado and prospect Archie Bradley could serve in starting roles. Daniel Hudson also lurks as a possible mid-season rotation addition, should he recover from his second Tommy John surgery in time to contribute in 2014.
Goldschmidt may be the Diamondbacks' only member of the Fantasy elite, but especially with the addition of Trumbo, Reed and Arroyo, they have a healthy contingent of players who can help owners in standard mixed leagues. It's probably not enough to make them competitive with the Dodgers in the National League West, but their core group could help to keep both the Diamondbacks and your Fantasy squad in contention this season.
Head-to-Head hero ... Martin Prado , second base/third base/outfield
Prado has never hit more than 15 home runs and only once has he stolen more than five bases or driven in over 70 runs, yet he is far more valuable in points leagues than those numbers would suggest. Eligible at second base, third base and outfield, Prado's versatility serves him well in any Fantasy format, but his aversion to strikeouts and penchant for doubles make him especially useful in standard Head-to-Head formats. Those qualities may go underappreciated in Rotisserie leagues, especially given his lack of a speed-power combination. Don't allow his lack of Roto cred to influence where you would take Prado in your non-category leagues, as he will probably fall just short of the elite ranks at second and third base in those.
Underappreciated ... Patrick Corbin , starting pitcher
Corbin's sensational sophomore season could easily be forgotten by some owners, as he limped to the finish line with a terrible seven-start stretch. Through his first 25 starts, Corbin got swings- and-misses on 11 percent of his pitches (per Baseball-Reference.com) and walked just 42 batters in 172 1/3 innings, contributing to a 2.45 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Over the final five weeks, Corbin's whiffs dried up, and while he had previously benefitted from a generous .261 BABIP, his luck more than evened out by allowing a .387 batting average on balls in play. Maybe fatigue set in, as Corbin did lose some velocity over those late-season starts, but regardless of the reason, he showed over a large portion of the season that he can be trusted as a must-start in virtually all formats. Though he may have left a bad impression by ending with a slump, it's still reasonable to expect Corbin to repeat as a top 30 starting pitcher in 2014.
Impact prospect ... Archie Bradley , starting pitcher
You know how we will sometimes say of a prospect, "he has nothing left to prove in the minors"? Despite a 1.97 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Mobile, that's not the case with Bradley. He walked 59 hitters in 123 1/3 innings, so at the very least, Bradley may need some time in Triple-A to work out his control issues. Earlier this offseason, it appeared that Bradley had an outside chance to make the team out of camp, but with the acquisition of Arroyo, the Diamondbacks can take their time to promote the 21-year-old. In the unlikely event he gets rushed to the majors, Bradley could evoke unpleasant memories of Trevor Bauer , but as Tony Cingrani showed last season, a lot of progress can be made in just a little time in Triple-A. If you don't grab Bradley as a reserve-round flyer, he could be worth eyeing as a mid-season waiver claim.
Though Bradley almost certainly won't make the opening day roster, he could be in line for a midseason callup. If the opportunity for a promotion arises and Bradley isn't ready, Zeke Spruill , Charles Brewer or Chase Anderson could get a shot at the rotation, though all turned in disappointing seasons in Triple-A last year. ... Chris Owings could break camp with the big league club, and he could get the nod as the regular shortstop over Didi Gregorius . Further down the depth chart, 24-year-old Nick Ahmed could eventually overtake both shortstops, and he could be a stolen base threat. ... Davidson is gone, but the organization still has quality third base prospects in Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury . Both are probably at least a couple of years away. ... Braden Shipley , Aaron Blair and Jose Martinez have yet to advance beyond Class A, but all three are pitching prospects worthy of targeting in deeper dynasty leagues.