The Arizona Diamondbacks finished the 2014 season with the worst record in baseball. After posting a dismal 64-98 record, Arizona fired manager Kirk Gibson and hired Oakland A’s bench coach Chip Hale. Desperate to add power to its lineup, Arizona signed Cuban outfielder Yasmany Tomas to a six-year, $68.5 million deal. Signed for his offensive prowess, Tomas could provide a spark to the middle of Arizona’s batting order right away. Arizona’s infield will be comprised of catcher Tuffy Gosewisch, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, second baseman Cliff Pennington, and shortstop Chris Owings. Arizona’s outfield will be comprised of Mark Trumbo, AJ Pollock, and Tomas. Here are five things to watch during Spring Training:
Storyline #1: Can Hale Turn Things Around?
Arizona boasts some elite offensive talent, but lacks depth throughout its roster. Arizona has not made many offseason moves and that may be a big problem in baseball’s most competitive division. Los Angeles and San Francisco are candidates for 90+ wins while San Diego was extremely aggressive in the offseason. Wins will not be easy to come by in this tough division. Chip Hale will need to play to his roster’s strengths in order to win games.
Storyline #2: Moving on from Montero, Gregorious
Arizona traded catcher Miguel Montero to the Chicago Cubs and shortstop Didi Gregorious to the New York Yankees during the offseason. Gregorious was a building block under Arizona’s old regime, but new general manager Dave Stewart wanted to give playing time to top prospect Chris Owings. Trading both players seems like a risky move, but fans will see whether these moved paid off.
Storyline #3: Will Corbin Return to Form?
During 2013, starting pitcher Patrick Corbin emerged as one of the best young pitchers in the league. Corbin went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA over 208 innings in 2013. Corbin, however, tore a ligament in his arm last year during Spring Training and became the first of many pitchers last season to undergo Tommy John surgery. Arizona’s rotation isn’t great, but getting Corbin back will be a major boost.
Storyline #4: Can Tomas Contribute Right Away?
Tomas was Arizona’s lone major off-season acquisition. If Tomas can contribute right away, like other recent Cuban outfielders, Arizona will have protection for Goldschmidt in the middle of its order. Tomas may play either corner infield spot or third base, but his offensive contributions will be realized right away.
Storyline #5: Protecting Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt is one of the National League’s best hitters. Finding protection for him, however, has been difficult. Arizona is hoping the combination of Trumbo and Tomas can give Goldschmidt more pitches to hit. Goldschmidt will need to remain healthy in order for Arizona to remain competitive. Goldschmidt injured his hand and missed 52 games.