by Contributing Author
The Arizona Diamondbacks will rely on a rapidly improving farm system to help them eventually return to contention.
It won’t be easy, considering the division features the annual powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers, the 107-win San Francisco Giants and the up-and-coming San Diego Padres.
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In August, MLB Pipeline ranked the Diamondbacks’ farm system ninth overall. The D-Backs will add to that in the 2022 Draft, where they’ll pick second overall behind the Baltimore Orioles. The group is headlined by shortstop Jordan Lawlar (the No. 6 pick in the 2021 draft) and outfielder Corbin Carroll.
The D-Backs found another potential star in right-handed pitcher Jacob Steinmetz, the 77th overall pick in this year’s draft.
Steinmetz made history by becoming the first known Orthodox Jew to be drafted into the Majors.
The Woodmere, Long Island native has committed to Fordham University. Steinmetz, Arizona’s No. 25 ranked prospect by MLB Pipeline, has turned heads with a 97 mph fastball.
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Steinmetz is a few years away from potentially joining the majors. He’s just one of 14 pitchers ranked by MLB Pipeline in Arizona’s top 30.
Even if Arizona isn’t ready to contend in 2022 or 2023, the fans can at least get excited about a farm system that is loaded with quality pitching prospects. If anything else, the D-Backs can trade some of these in the future for veteran help.
Currently Arizona and Baltimore share the worst 2022 World Series odds at +20000 each.
Offseason Predictions: Marte To Mets, Bumgarner To Angels
It’s safe to say that the Diamondbacks will not reach championship contention again for at least another few years, and very possibly longer.
It will strictly come down to how well general manager Mike Hazen manages this rebuild.
The Diamondback and Baltimore Orioles tied for baseball’s worst record in 2021, finishing 52-110.
This marked Arizona’s second straight losing campaign as well as their fourth consecutive season without a playoff appearance. Only the 2004 Diamondbacks (51-111) lost more games than the 2020 squad.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, Hazen seemed to hint that the team would undergo a rebuild, which would include bringing in more young players for 2022.
“Coming off a 52-win season, making up 30 games on our win total is probably going to be somewhat challenging,” Hazen said earlier this month, per Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.
Hazen also said the Diamondbacks will “integrate our younger players onto the team, I would think, fairly quickly,” per Piecoro.
“We have a number of players that are at the upper levels of our system,” Hazen continued. “This isn’t a situation, for me, where we are relying on a series of top-five draft picks to get us back into a position where we should be. That’s my opinion.”
So it’s safe to assume that Arizona will not be a top player for the star-studded 2022 free agent class. It’s hard to envision them going after top fish like Max Scherzer, Clayton Kershaw, Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, Corey Seager and Carlos Correa.
Rather, Hazen will likely try to sell some of his valuable veteran assets for more young assets. This could include veteran left-hander Madison Bumgarner, who has three years left on the five-year, $85 million pact he signed in 2019.
All-Star outfielder Ketel Marte, who hit above .300 (.318) for the second time in his career, is also a top offseason trade candidate.
Marte’s trade value likely won’t get any higher. And despite Bumgarner’s struggles in Arizona (8-14 with an ERA of 5.07), there should still be a decent market for the three-time World Series Champion and four-time All-Star.
The way-too-early prediction is that Arizona trades Marte to the offense-hungry New York Mets for three prospects. The Mets, coming off a miserable second half collapse, need to upgrade their outfield defense and the top of the lineup. Marte fits the bill perfectly.
As for Bumgarner, the Los Angeles Angels make sense as a landing spot. They can’t afford to waste any more prime seasons of Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani, so the front office should be ultra-motivated to fix up the rotation this year.
The Angels don’t have much depth in their farm system, but the D-Backs should be content to give up the final three years of his contract for a couple of mid-level prospects.