After losing to the Dodgers in the postseason last year, the Diamondbacks learned exactly what they need to do to make a true playoff run.
With MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt back in the fold and a young rotation developing into something special, Arizona isn’t far from becoming a real threat for the World Series.
J.D. Martinez is gone to the Red Sox and with him the 29 home runs in just 62 games with the Diamondbacks last season (after coming over from Detroit in July).
But the Diamondbacks hardly missed a beat, announcing Monday that they had agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with Jarrod Dyson shortly after the Red Sox announced a five-year, $110 million contract with Martinez, clearly out of Arizona’s price range, then reportedly acquiring Steven Souza from the Rays on Tuesday in a three-team deal.
Dyson, 33, led the Mariners with 28 stolen bases last season despite going out in September following core-muscle surgery. Not only does he have the speed to play all three outfield positions, but he also provides a strong, positive clubhouse presence — and he has a World Series ring from his days with the Royals.
After finishing fourth in the American League in runs scored and OPS and third in on-base percentage, Minnesota not only retained its young starting lineup that just reached the postseason as the second wild card, but vastly improved its pitching staff with shrewd signings and trades for established veterans to complement the core. With Detroit and Kansas City entering rebuilding phases and Chicago’s well underway, Minnesota is in position to benefit from a power vacuum in the AL Central and improve on its 85-77 record from 2017.
Left fielder Eddie Rosario, 26, hit .290 with a career-high 27 homers while slugging .507. Shortstop Jorge Polanco, just 24, came out of nowhere to drive in 74 runs, and 29-year-old Eduardo Escobar cracked 21 homers while filling in along the infield.
If Joe Mauer continues to hit over .300 with a .385 on base percentage and Minnesota sees progress from outfielders Byron Buxton, 24, and Max Kepler, 25, the Twins could even exceed their offensive success from last season.
Still, with the new regular season fast approaching, a number of high-profile names remain on the open market. While most teams have a pretty clear plan at this stage, a few last-minute additions could push a couple teams into postseason contention.