Mar 30, 2023 - Sports

Diamondbacks are unlikely playoff contenders, but future looks bright

A picture from behind of a baseball player in a red uniform holding up a bat to his side.

Corbin Carroll is a Rookie of the Year candidate. Photo: John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Expectations for the Arizona Diamondbacks are muted as the 2023 season kicks off, but there's at least a hint of optimism in the air after several lackluster seasons.

Catch up quick: Arizona is expected to improve, though not necessarily enough to vie for a playoff spot in their stacked division.

  • Bleacher Report ranks them the 17th-best team to start the season; put them at 22nd and CBS Sports has them at 23 in their power rankings.
  • The D-backs are coming off a 74-88 season, which isn't great, but it was a 22-win improvement over their dismal 2021 campaign.

Zoom in: The D-Backs' roster is filled with up-and-comers, most notably outfielder Corbin Carroll, a potential Rookie of the Year contender whom the team signed to an eight-year, $111 million contract extension even though he's played in only 32 major league games.

  • There are high expectations for offseason addition Gabriel Moreno, one of the game's top catcher prospects, who could get a chance to show off while starting catcher Carson Kelly is out with a fractured forearm.
  • Pitcher Zac Gallen made headlines with his 44 ⅓ consecutive shutout innings last season, although the starting rotation after him presents questions.
  • Arizona also added veteran third baseman Evan Longoria in the offseason.

Between the lines: Perhaps the team's biggest weakness last year was its bullpen, which tied an MLB record for losses and had the worst win percentage in the majors when leading or tied after five innings, The Arizona Republic reports.

  • The D-backs lost their "worst offenders" with the departures of Ian Kennedy, Noé Ramirez and J.B. Wendelken.
  • They added some solid relievers in Andrew Chafin, Scott McGough and Miguel Castro.
  • Closer Mark Melancon starts the season with a shoulder injury, and manager Torey Lovullo says he'll miss "months not weeks."

1 big departure: There was a lot of buzz around Daulton Varsho after his third season with the team last year, but the Diamondbacks traded him to Toronto, getting Moreno and outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in return.

What they're saying: "It's a stretch, but it's not impossible that the Arizona Diamondbacks will enter the chat this season, at least enough to preview a three-way ruckus come 2024," Deadspin's Sam Fels wrote.

The bottom line: Even if the D-backs improve from last year as expected, reaching the postseason will be tough considering they're in the powerhouse National League West, where the Dodgers and Padres rank as two of the top teams in the Majors.

  • But they should be fun to watch and are building a team that could be a contender down the road.

What's next: The D-backs open their season Thursday on the road against the Dodgers and will face Los Angeles again next Thursday in their home opener.


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