Bronson Arroyo signs with the Diamondbacks, but did they improve?

John Sommers II

The Diamondbacks are better than they were Thursday, but are they better than they were at the start of the offseason?

Before last season, I made a point of telling anyone who would listen that they should watch out for the Diamondbacks. They had depth. They had youth. They had a lineup filled with players who deserved to be starters in a good lineup.

They flopped.

This time, though, you gotta believe me. They have depth. They have youth. They have a lineup filled with players who deserve to be starters in a good lineup. Watch out for these Diamondbacks, boy howdy.

These Diamondbacks also benefited from a little patience this offseason, at least financially. They picked up Bronson Arroyo for two years and $23.5 million, which is a year and $11 million or so less than he was asking at the beginning of the offseason. Arroyo is a solid starter, and teams need solid starters. He signed at a reasonable rate compared to the rest of the market. Therefore, the peanut gallery cries, this was a good deal.

Except, wait a sec. Here's the rotation with which the Diamondbacks started the offseason:

Patrick Corbin
Brandon McCarthy
Wade Miley
Trevor Cahill
Randall Delgado
Tyler Skaggs (in a glass case)

What you have up there is a list of five or six pitchers I just might trust over a 37-year-old Bronson Arroyo. Corbin and Miley have the recent success, and what McCarthy lacks in durability, he makes up for with his groundballing ways in a dinger-encouraging park. Cahill is not unlike Arroyo when it comes to league-average innings munching, and Delgado has the big arm to go with his promising debut last year.

Alright, I'll take Arroyo over Delgado for sure, at least if the idea is to win now. But it's close.

Delgado takes the sixth-starter role over, as Skaggs was sent to Los Angeles with Adam Eaton for Mark Trumbo. Let's  tally up the additions and subtractions of the offseason as if they were part of one big trade.

Collection of players A
Adam Eaton
Tyler Skaggs (in the minors)
Randall Delgado (in the rotation)
$25 million to spend on your wildest desires

Collection of players B
Bronson Arroyo
Mark Trumbo
Randall Delgado (in the minors)

Pick a collection. It's close for me, mostly because I'm an admitted Adam Eaton fanboy. Apparently his grit was the wrong kind of grit for Kirk Gibson -- more of a sassy grit than a put-your-head-down grit -- so his years of team control weren't as important as Trumbo's lumber.

Before you answer, though, ask yourself exactly what the Diamondbacks need to spend money on. My knee-jerk reaction is to suggest I'd rather have Delgado in the rotation and the extra clams in the bank. But look at the lineup, rotation, and bullpen. There aren't holes that desperately need patching. Paul Goldschmidt has his extension, as does Martin Prado and Miguel Montero. Gerardo Parra and Trumbo aren't coming up for a couple of years. The rotation is cost-controlled for a long time, for the most part.

The only reasonable way for the Diamondbacks to spend money this offseason, then, was to get another starting pitcher. They tried for Tanaka, but so did everyone else. They didn't want to give up a draft pick for Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana, and Matt Garza at twice the price of Arroyo doesn't seem like a great investment. If the idea was to spend money on a pitcher, once Tanaka was gone, Arroyo was the reasonable choice. He makes the Diamondbacks better than they were yesterday.

Back to that original question, though: Are they better than they were on Oct. 31? Don't know about that, not if you had the entire offseason to figure out a way to spend that money. Collection A plus Joe Nathan seems as tempting as it is frivolous. Collection A plus Grant Balfour and another reliever of note would also be tempting. It would help lessen the difference between Delgado and Arroyo, and the outfield defense would be much better with Eaton instead of Trumbo.

I think I'd take Collection A and some relievers, actually. I appreciate the Arroyo signing for the value it is, and in isolation it's a good move, but the entire offseason has been a lot of Rubik's Cube twisting that's ended with roughly the same pattern they started. They lost some cheap seasons from Eaton and Skaggs, though, and in a division where the Diamondbacks have never spent like the Giants, much less the Dodgers, that's not a small consideration.

Still, get back to that first paragraph: The Diamondbacks have depth, youth, and a solid top-to-bottom lineup. They're a good team, and Arroyo makes them better than they were yesterday. I'm just not sure if they're better than they would have been if they had done absolutely nothing.

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