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2014 Fantasy Outlooks: Arizona Diamondbacks

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For two years running, the Diamondbacks have sat on the fence with a .500 record. This offseason, they made an attempt to address two problem areas, but is it enough to lift them up from mediocrity?

The Snakes tied the Mets for the 25th-most home runs last season, clubbing just 130 of them, so Mark Trumbo and his 30-homer bat are welcome newcomers to the lineup. In addition to bringing some thump, Trumbo will provide some protection for Paul Goldschmidt, who emerged last year as the National League's most potent hitting first baseman. The former Angel will also add some stability to an outfield that included only one player -- Gerardo Parra -- who started more than 110 games as an outfielder in 2013.

The bullpen was another area that lacked stability, but general manager Kevin Towers acquired Addison Reed from the White Sox to handle the closing duties. Owners won't have to worry about whether J.J. Putz can stay healthy or if Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez or Heath Bell can handle the closer's role. Bell was dispatched to Tampa Bay, while Putz, Ziegler and Hernandez will set up Reed and be rendered as Fantasy afterthoughts outside of leagues that use non-closers in relief spots.

2014 Fantasy Outlooks
A.L. East N.L. East
Orioles Braves
Red Sox Marlins
Yankees Mets
Rays Phillies
Blue Jays Nationals
A.L. Central N.L. Central
White Sox Cubs
Indians Reds
Tigers Brewers
Royals Pirates
Twins Cardinals
A.L. West N.L. West
Astros Diamondbacks
Angels Rockies
Athletics Dodgers
Mariners Padres
Rangers Giants

In order to get Trumbo and Reed, the Diamondbacks had to part with three potential up-and-coming stars, Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs and Matt Davidson, so the team is clearly in win-now mode. They are counting on Aaron Hill to bounce back from last season's broken hand, Miguel Montero to snap out of a two-year power decline and Martin Prado to continue to provide steady production. Hill and Prado join Trumbo as solid middle-round Fantasy options, while Montero is better saved for two-catcher mixed leagues.

The starting rotation appears to be set, and Patrick Corbin will likely serve as the ace rather than as the No. 5 starter that he was on opening day a year ago. Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill and Brandon McCarthy look like locks to retains their spots, and free agent signee Bronson Arroyo will round out the rotation. Reinforcements are available, as Randall Delgado and prospect Archie Bradley could serve in starting roles. Daniel Hudson also lurks as a possible mid-season rotation addition, should he recover from his second Tommy John surgery in time to contribute in 2014.

Goldschmidt may be the Diamondbacks' only member of the Fantasy elite, but especially with the addition of Trumbo, Reed and Arroyo, they have a healthy contingent of players who can help owners in standard mixed leagues. It's probably not enough to make them competitive with the Dodgers in the National League West, but their core group could help to keep both the Diamondbacks and your Fantasy squad in contention this season.

Head-to-Head hero ... Martin Prado, second base/third base/outfield

2014 projected lineup
Player Name Position
1. Gerardo Parra CF
2. Martin Prado 3B
3. Paul Goldschmidt 1B
4. Mark Trumbo LF
5. Aaron Hill 2B
6. Miguel Montero C
7. Cody Ross RF
8. Chris Owings SS
Bench Eric Chavez 3B
Bench A.J. Pollock OF

Prado has never hit more than 15 home runs and only once has he stolen more than five bases or driven in over 70 runs, yet he is far more valuable in points leagues than those numbers would suggest. Eligible at second base, third base and outfield, Prado's versatility serves him well in any Fantasy format, but his aversion to strikeouts and penchant for doubles make him especially useful in standard Head-to-Head formats. Those qualities may go underappreciated in Rotisserie leagues, especially given his lack of a speed-power combination. Don't allow his lack of Roto cred to influence where you would take Prado in your non-category leagues, as he will probably fall just short of the elite ranks at second and third base in those.

Underappreciated ... Patrick Corbin, starting pitcher

Corbin's sensational sophomore season could easily be forgotten by some owners, as he limped to the finish line with a terrible seven-start stretch. Through his first 25 starts, Corbin got swings- and-misses on 11 percent of his pitches (per Baseball-Reference.com) and walked just 42 batters in 172 1/3 innings, contributing to a 2.45 ERA and 1.02 WHIP. Over the final five weeks, Corbin's whiffs dried up, and while he had previously benefitted from a generous .261 BABIP, his luck more than evened out by allowing a .387 batting average on balls in play. Maybe fatigue set in, as Corbin did lose some velocity over those late-season starts, but regardless of the reason, he showed over a large portion of the season that he can be trusted as a must-start in virtually all formats. Though he may have left a bad impression by ending with a slump, it's still reasonable to expect Corbin to repeat as a top 30 starting pitcher in 2014.

Impact prospect ... Archie Bradley, starting pitcher

2014 rotation/bullpen
Player Name Throws
1. Patrick Corbin LHP
2. Wade Miley LHP
3. Bronson Arroyo RHP
4. Trevor Cahill RHP
5. Brandon McCarthy RHP
ALT Randall Delgado RHP
Bullpen Breakdown
1. Addison Reed RHP
2. J.J. Putz RHP
3. Brad Ziegler RHP
4. David Hernandez RHP
5. Joe Thatcher LHP

You know how we will sometimes say of a prospect, "he has nothing left to prove in the minors"? Despite a 1.97 ERA in 21 starts at Double-A Mobile, that's not the case with Bradley. He walked 59 hitters in 123 1/3 innings, so at the very least, Bradley may need some time in Triple-A to work out his control issues. Earlier this offseason, it appeared that Bradley had an outside chance to make the team out of camp, but with the acquisition of Arroyo, the Diamondbacks can take their time to promote the 21-year-old. In the unlikely event he gets rushed to the majors, Bradley could evoke unpleasant memories of Trevor Bauer, but as Tony Cingrani showed last season, a lot of progress can be made in just a little time in Triple-A. If you don't grab Bradley as a reserve-round flyer, he could be worth eyeing as a mid-season waiver claim.

Prospects Report

Though Bradley almost certainly won't make the opening day roster, he could be in line for a midseason callup. If the opportunity for a promotion arises and Bradley isn't ready, Zeke Spruill, Charles Brewer or Chase Anderson could get a shot at the rotation, though all turned in disappointing seasons in Triple-A last year. ... Chris Owings could break camp with the big league club, and he could get the nod as the regular shortstop over Didi Gregorius. Further down the depth chart, 24-year-old Nick Ahmed could eventually overtake both shortstops, and he could be a stolen base threat. ... Davidson is gone, but the organization still has quality third base prospects in Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury. Both are probably at least a couple of years away. ... Braden Shipley, Aaron Blair and Jose Martinez have yet to advance beyond Class A, but all three are pitching prospects worthy of targeting in deeper dynasty leagues.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al at @almelccbs .

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Player News
Rangers 1B Mitch Moreland won't play spring games until next week
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:36 pm ET) Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland will run the bases on Tuesday, and won't seen any spring games until next week, according to the Star-Telegram. Texas is taking a cautious approach with Moreland in camp after he underwent ankle surgery last June.

The 29-year-old Moreland hit .246/.297/.347 over 167 at-bats last year.


Blue Jays' Gibbons yet to settle on closer, could use committee
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:34 pm ET) Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said Tuesday that while Brett Cecil has the ability to close, he might not serve as the team's closer, the National Post reports.

"He could do it. He might not. It might be somebody else," Gibbons said.

The manager also raised the possibility of using multiple closers.

"It could be one of those deals where one night he might be closing, the other night he might have to come in at the end of the seventh or eighth inning," Gibbons said.

Despite the face that Gibbons hasn't deemed Cecil his closer, he did praise his pitching ability Tuesday.

"He’s got some overpowering stuff," Gibbons said. "He’s a lefty and I don’t think there’s a better curveball out there. He can throw it for strikes, he can bring it down low in the zone and bounce it for a strikeout. That’s kind of his go-to pitch. He doesn’t rattle. He’s pretty confident and calm when he’s out there."

Cecil went 2-3 with a 2.70 ERA, 76:27 K:BB ratio and five saves in 53 1/3 innings in 2014. He owns a 11.1 career K/9 rate in relief.


White Sox's Geovany Soto feeling good at the start of spring games
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:23 pm ET) White Sox catcher Geovany Soto said he is feeling good after being limited to 78 games the last two seasons due to injuries. He missed time in 2014 because of arthroscopic surgery on his left foot and a torn meniscus in his right knee.

"I love where I'm at," Soto said, per The Chicago Tribune. "My legs feel great. My whole body feels great. I'm just anxious to get started and show these guys what I can do, hopefully stay healthy and break camp."


Dodgers' Mattingly: Hyun-Jin Ryu's (back) next step will be BP
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:22 pm ET) Dodgers manager Don Mattingly told reporters that starting pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu came out of Monday's bullpen session "fine," and that his next step will likely be throwing batting practice, according to SB Nation.

Ryu is dealing with a back injury, but has been throwing the last couple of days without pain. At this point, Ryu remains without a timetable for his first spring game. He went 14-7 in 2014 with a 3.38 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 152 innings pitched last season.


Hinch: Astros 'likely' to use seven-man bullpen in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:15 pm ET) Astros manager A.J. Hinch indicated that the team is likely to use a seven-man bullpen this season, leaving two spots open for competition this spring, the Houston Chronicle reports.

"Likely," Hinch said of a seven-man bullpen. "There’s always a chance that (changes) depending on how the schedule plays out, and there’s always a debate on how many pitchers to carry during interleague. Now interleague is pretty much year round, so I mean, in a perfect world with our roster, it’s likely to carry a seven-man ‘pen. If we feel like we need an extra pitcher or injury happens, there’s different ways to shape our roster, then we will, but likely 12."

The two open spots will likely be filled by a left-handed pitcher and a long reliever. The competition for the second lefty in the pen likely comes down to Kevin Chapman and nonroster invitees Joe Thatcher and Darin Downs. The long relief role has a broader list of candidates, including Alex White and Asher Wojciechowski, who will prepare both as starters and relievers.

"We’re going to stretch out a lot of our guys," Hinch said. "Some of them are because they’re competing in that fifth starter spot, some of them are bullpen guys. Will Harris is going to throw multiple innings. Obviously (Sam) Deduno has been a starter in the past, he’s in a competition for the fifth man spot. Wojo, White, those guys are going to need to, going to plan for the season on both fronts, whether it’s a starter or reliever. But we’re preaching multiple innings. It’s important if you have a seven-man bullpen that you have a couple of guys that can get four, five, six outs if needed and be a bridge to the rest of the bullpen."


Rangers' Tolleson: 'I'd like to be that bridge' between starters, closers
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(12:15 pm ET) Rangers pitcher Shawn Tolleson told reporters he would like to become the link between the starting rotation and back-end relievers Tanner Scheppers and Neftali Feliz this season, according to the Dallas Morning News.

"I would like to be that bridge," Tolleson said.

Tolleson led the club with 71 2/3 innings of relief last season. He pitched more than one inning 20 times and held left-handed hitters to a .282 on-base percentage.

"He's got the skill set to be one of those that we use in the latter portions of the game," manager Jeff Banister said. "He seems to love the competition."


Nationals faced with tough decision regarding Michael Taylor
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com
(12:10 pm ET) The Nationals are faced with a tough decision when it comes to outfield prospect Michael Taylor, who appears to be on the cusp of being ready for a regular role at the major-league level.

A major issue is playing time since the Nationals have a starting outfield of Jayson Werth, Bryce Harper and Denard Span. Taylor would be a solid fourth outfielder, but having him coming off the bench is not ideal for his development.

“It’s the same age-old decision that must be made regarding guys that are just on the cusp of being big-league ready and everyday players,” manager Matt Williams said, per NatsInsider.com. “And a question of depth on your team, too. … It’s a question of depth on your team, it’s a question of how much playing time they’re really going to get, and are they better served staying in the minor leagues and getting those at-bats until their opportunity arises. But Mike’s close. He’s really close.”


Nationals' Aaron Barrett: 'I'm ready for a full season'
by Igor Mello | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) Nationals pitcher Aaron Barrett worked on strengthening his shoulder and legs in the offseason to improve his longevity throughout the entire season. Barrett admitted he wasn't used to a full major-league schedule, which contributed to him feeling "tired" in the middle of his rookie season.

"I'm ready for a full season," Barrett said. "Last year was a long season for me. It was my first year up. I had a lot of appearances, a lot of warm-ups and stuff like that. I think that is part of the process of coming up and working on that. I did as much training as I possibly could for this year."


Daniel Descalso brings versatility, playoff experience to Rockies
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(12:06 pm ET) Rockies infielder Daniel Descalso is ready to fill the role of versatile veteran who can play second base, third base or shortstop as needed, the Denver Post reports.

"I'll be ready for whatever comes my way," Descalso said Monday. "It's been a while since I've played just one position for any length of time, so I've worked hard to reach a comfort level at all three spots. I have an idea of what it takes to stay sharp."

Another factor that piqued the interest of the Rockies this offseason was his postseason experience, as he has played in 44 postseason games and won one championship.

"All of that factored in quite a bit," manager Walt Weiss said. "I think we sometimes underestimate the value of that — guys that have played in big games, pennant races, and have won a World Series. Those types of players are valuable, and that's a big reason why we brought Danny in here."

Descalso has made 110 starts at second base, 91 at third base and 88 at shortstop in his five-year career, seeing at least 100 appearances at all three poitions. He hit .242/.333/.311 in 161 at-bats last year with the Cardinals.


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(12:02 pm ET) Indians manager Terry Francona said Tuesday second baseman Jason Kipnis (hand) will likely make his spring debut this weekend, per MLB.com.

 
 
 
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