SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The addition of Bronson Arroyo signals a temporary end to the Diamondbacks roster remake, general manager Kevin Towers said Sunday, but he made a point of saying that it should not impact rookie Archie Bradley’s chances of making the team.
The D-backs will break camp with the five starters most likely to contribute, and if top prospect Bradley is among them, that is the way it will go down, he said. Some have speculated that the Diamondbacks could start Bradley in the minor leagues in order to delay his arbitration clock, but Towers pooh-poohed that.
"We want to get out of the gate quick," Towers said. "I’ve said from the beginning, with Archie, it’s not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he’s ready coming out of the spring and we’re a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he’s going to be there.
"I’m sure there is probably some disappointment, ‘Am I the odd man out?’ But I don’t think that’s his mentality, either. I don’t think Archie has ever viewed himself as a fifth guy anyway. Knowing Archie, one of the veterans is out and he’s in. I want it to be a competitive spring and him to approach this spring no differently than when Arroyo’s name came up."
Patrick Corbin, Trevor Cahill, Brandon McCarthy, Wade Miley entered camp as the top rotation candidates, with Delgado and Bradley also in the mix. Arroyo has averaged 13 victories and 211 innings in his last nine seasons, and his spot seems assured. The right-hander is expected his throw his first bullpen session at Salt River Fields on Wednesday.
I’ve said from the beginning, with Archie, it’s not about trying to save a year, save money. We need to win games. If he’s ready coming out of the spring and we’re a better ballclub with Archie being in it, he’s going to be there.
Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers
Bradley, whose fastball has been clocked at 98-99 mph, plans to continue to develop his changeup this spring.
If Delgado does not make the rotation, he likely will remain in the bullpen, Towers said, as a second long reliever to pair with Josh Collmenter. Delgado does not have any options remaining, and the D-backs are unlikely to expose him to waivers for fear of losing him.
"There is not as much flexibility with him," Towers admitted.
Delgado’s addition would add depth to an already-deeper bullpen that also includes Addison Reed, J.J. Putz, Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez, Will Harris and Joe Thatcher, among others.
As for the rotation, while the Dodgers announced that Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke will start in the two-game series against the Diamondbacks on March 22-23 in Australia, the D-backs remain noncommittal. For one thing, new pitching coach Mike Harkey will have input, and he has only seen his starters throw off a mound once thus far.
The D-backs are unlikely to platoon young shortstops Didi Gregorius and Chris Owings this season, preferring to get both of them regular at-bats while Cliff Pennington remains as the primary backup.
"I just don’t think it is good for their development," Towers said. "It will be one or the other. I think both are very, very good players, and they need at-bats. I would say one would win the job and the other would be at Triple-A, and if something happens, one will be back up. I don’t see them both being on the club."
Gregorius, who turns 24 next week, played the majority of available innings last season after being promoted in mid-April when Aaron Hill suffered a fractured hand. Gregorius hit .258 with seven home runs in 357 at-bats while showing great range and arm strength. Owings hit .291 with five doubles and five RBIs in 55 at-bats in a September recall after being named the Pacific Coast League MVP. The 22-year-old hit .330 with 12 homers and 81 RBIs at Class AAA Reno.
Both Gregorius and Owings have options remaining.
Unlike in the previous handful of seasons, the Diamondbacks likely will break camp with five outfielders, Towers said, partly because of the uncertainty regarding Cody Ross’ status. The D-backs have opened with four outfielders in each of Towers’ previous three seasons.
Towers mentioned Matt Tuiasosopo, Tony Campana, Alfredo Marte and Shelley Duncan as possible candidates for the fifth spot, and two could make the team initially if the D-backs opt for a slower-is-better approach while Ross returns from his fractured hip.
Tuiasosopo, claimed off waivers from the Tigers after hitting .244 with seven homers and 30 RBIs in 164 at-bats last season, also has played the infield, and he started his career as a shortstop. Duncan, in camp on a minor league contract, has played some first base. Marte made the team out of spring last year, when both Adam Eaton and Ross opened the season on the disabled list.
"Cody, if he is healthy and ready to go, you are not going to want to overdo it with him right off the bat," Towers said. "Don’t know if you’ll be pinch-running him much. The one thing he hasn’t done is slide, go down on that hip. He’s done pretty much everything else."
Towers, on any potential carryover from the Diamondbacks’ heated rivalry with the Dodgers last season: "Cooler heads will prevail." The Dodgers and D-backs are the only teams that have opened spring training so far in Arizona, as they will open the exhibition season against each other Feb. 26-27 before heading to Australia. The D-backs also will play six of their first 18 stateside regular-season games after returning from Australia against the Dodgers.