J.D. Martinez: Will He Stay or Will He Go?
The big question of Arizona’s off-season was whether or not they’d be able to retain 2017 hero JD Martinez in free agency. The drama ended when he chose to sign with the Red Sox.
So to fill their RF spot, the Diamondbacks acquired Steven Souza as part of a 3 team trade involving the Rays and Yankees. To get Souza, Arizona sends LHP Anthony Banda (#5 on my top50 list) to the Rays along with two prospects to be named later. Banda should be able to move quicker as a SP in the Tampa system than he would have in the crowded, talented Diamondback rotation. The Rays also receive 2B Nick Solak (#9 prospect) from the Yankees. Arizona also sends 2B/3B Brandon Drury to the Yankees in exchange for RHP Taylor Widener. He’s an interesting arm and ranks #18 in Ryan Ortiz’s Prospects1500 write up. I’d slot him in the #10-13 range in an updated Diamondbacks Top 50 prospect list.
— MLB Trade Rumors (@mlbtraderumors) February 21, 2018
Which Prospects Have a Chance to Make 25-Man Roster?
The Souza trade and the free agent signing of Jarrod Dyson will make it harder for outfielders Christian Walker (17) and already injured Socrates Brito (19) to leave camp on the 25 man roster. I’d prefer they cut Yasmany Tomas and make room for the young kids, but they have a dreadful amount of money tied up in Tomas. In the infield, Drury’s departure makes it more likely Ildemaro Vargas (31) and Jack Reinheimer (33) can make the club as utility men backing up middle infielders Ketel Marte, Chris Owings, and Nick Ahmed. But i don’t see either of them getting major upticks in MLB at bats. The Diamondbacks didn’t graduate any top 50 prospects in 2017 to the MLB, and 2018 looks to be pretty similar. So it goes for a team looking to contend, and without any impact players in the high levels.
Humidor; or Wherefore Art Thou Home Runs?
The other big Diamondback story this spring is that the long rumored humidor will be a reality in Chase Field in 2018! Maybe they would have kept it away if JD Martinez had signed, but I think Arizona realized the strength of the team is in the pitching and they decided to help them out. A humidor will essentially have the effect of reducing exit velocities on batted balls. Check out this article to learn baseball physics/humidorology. If you made it thru the cool charts and graphs and science to the last paragraph you’d see the net effect is what physicist Alan Nathan says is a 25-50% decrease in home runs! That is way more impactful than I would have guessed, and should make a difference in how you value Diamondbacks going forward. It may be a smart idea to upgrade the AZ pitchers and downgrade the AZ hitters in both single season and dynasty leagues.