The Diamondbacks may be best known for making a recent series of head-scratching decisions, but in 2016, they might wind up looking like a savvy organization. When they signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million deal, it seemed curious when he couldn't crack the starting lineup regularly and needed to spend time in the minors.
When general manager Dave Stewart dealt the previous season's first-round pick, Touki Toussaint, along with Bronson Arroyo to the Braves for injured utility infielder Phil Gosselin, it was hard to understand. Then this offseason, Stewart dialed up the Braves again to acquire Shelby Miller, but it cost him a starting outfielder (Ender Inciarte) and two of their top prospects, including first overall pick Dansby Swanson.
Whether or not you can make sense of these moves, the Diamondbacks have positioned themselves to compete with the Dodgers and Giants in the National League West after improving to 79-83 last season. Signing Zack Greinke this offseason has much to do with the perception that the Snakes will be contenders, but the addition of Miller and the successful return of Patrick Corbin from Tommy John surgery have also raised the profile of the rotation.
Brad Ziegler wrested the closer's job from Addison Reed last season, earning 30 saves and killing countless thousands of earthworms (by way of a 75 percent ground ball rate). He will reprise the role this season.
Aside from former Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, the everyday lineup will be devoid of newcomers, though by trading Inciarte, there is now room for Tomas to become a regular. Paul Goldschmidt has established himself as one of the best hitters in Fantasy, and A.J. Pollock emerged last season as a potential first-rounder. David Peralta and mid-season acquisition Welington Castillo had breakout seasons as well, providing the Diamondbacks with a potent middle of the batting order.
Maybe over time, the Diamondbacks will regret trading away the likes of Swanson, Toussaint and Aaron Blair for a near-term shot at some postseason glory. If Pollock and Peralta can sustain last season's magic and Tomas can take a step forward, at least there could be a payoff to weigh against the losses.
2016 projected lineup
1. A.J. Pollock, CF
2. Jake Lamb, 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
4. David Peralta, RF
5. Welington Castillo, C
6. Yasmany Tomas, LF
7. Chris Owings, 2B
8. Jean Segura, SS
BENCH: Phil Gosselin, 2B
BENCH: Nick Ahmed, SS
BENCH: Socrates Brito, OF
2016 projected rotation
1. Zack Greinke, RHP
2. Patrick Corbin, LHP
3. Shelby Miller, RHP
4. Rubby De La Rosa, RHP
5. Robbie Ray, LHP
ALT: Archie Bradley, RHP
2016 projected bullpen
1. Brad Ziegler, RHP
2. Daniel Hudson, RHP
3. Andrew Chafin, LHP
4. Silvino Bracho, RHP
5. Josh Collmenter, RHP
David Peralta was a key to the Diamondbacks' improvement last season, as the one-time pitcher batted .312 with 17 home runs, 26 doubles and 10 triples. The power breakout looked legitimate, as he hit flyballs for greater distances on average. Peralta was also highly successful in beating the shift, even though he had a normal tendency to pull grounders and line drives. He may need some luck to maintain his BABIP, and if he doesn't, he could lose RBI opportunities as well as points on his batting average. Peralta is already an iffy proposition in points leagues, given the likelihood he will sit against lefties, but he could wind up disappointing Rotisserie owners as well.
Last season, Jake Lamb got overshadowed by the many outstanding rookies, but after a hot start, he didn't do much to keep pace with the Kris Bryants and Carlos Correas of the Fantasy world. Lamb was shelved by a foot injury for roughly a quarter of the season, and when he returned, he didn't produce much. He was a prolific power hitter in the minors, but over the season's final four months, he had only 21 extra-base hits and a .109 Isolated Power. Lamb will be under the radar now, but with some major league experience and likely better health, he will get another chance to put his power skills on display.
Aside from a 5-12 record, Robbie Ray's second season went a whole lot better than his first. The move from the Tigers to the Diamondbacks worked for Ray, and not just because he had a better opportunity to stick in the rotation. He threw with greater velocity, but he didn't experience a big surge in his strikeout rate until late in the season. That's around the time that he started to employ his sinker more often, and he got more grounders as well as swings and misses. Because Ray had control issues, he's risky to peg as a breakout candidate, but even if he provides owners with a similar level of production to that from the last month-and-a-half of 2015, he will be a valuable pitcher in deeper mixed leagues.
Archie Bradley made his major league debut last season, but it was tough sledding all year long. He was hit in the head by a liner in an April start, and he returned to make just four more starts before going on the disabled list again, this time with shoulder inflammation. Bradley was beset by control issues when he did pitch, though he was better during a late-season stint in Triple-A. With the additions of Greinke and Miller to the major league rotation, Bradley will have a harder time cracking the roster this year, but he is still worth hanging onto in dynasty formats.
Braden Shipley will face the same logjam on the big league roster than Bradley will, and he, too, will have to contend with his own struggles with control. With a strong spring, he has a chance to surpass Bradley on the organizational depth chart. That may also be true for Zack Godley, who had some success in his 2015 major league debut. He comes with less hype than either Bradley or Shipley, but he has already shown the ability to get major league hitters to whiff on his cutter.
Brandon Drury put on a good power display in the California League in 2014, hitting 19 home runs and 35 doubles, but like many hitters, he tailed off after leaving the hitter-friendly circuit. In 2015, Drury hit a combined seven home runs across Double-A, Triple-A and the majors. The infielder will get another chance to improve his stock this season in Triple-A, though there is no obvious place for him to play in the Diamondbacks' lineup.
In spending nearly all of 2015 in the Pacific Coast League, Peter O'Brien showed that he is a man with a power bat, but not a man with a position. The organization moved him off of catcher to the outfield and then back again to catcher. With Castillo entrenched behind the plate, O'Brien may need to move back to the outfield again. He clearly has more Fantasy value as a catcher, but it's not clear that he'll ever get a chance to gain eligibility there. His appeal for now is restricted to deeper redraft leagues.