The Arizona Diamondbacks ended the 2012 season and entered the off-season with perhaps as much pitching depth as any team this side of the Tampa Bay Rays. Brandon McCarthy entered the off-season with perhaps a dozen teams interested in his services.
The improbability of their coming together this winter is a great example of why some baseball fans love this time of year almost as much as the season itself.
The Diamondbacks have signed the former Oakland A’s starter to a two-year deal worth $15.5 million, adding to their stable of pitching options for this upcoming season. McCarthy will join a rotation that already consists of Ian Kennedy, Trevor Cahill, and Wade Miley, solidifying four-fifths of their starting rotation. The final spot in the rotation is up for grabs, and among its competitors will be Patrick Corbin, Trevor Bauer, Josh Collmenter, and Tyler Skaggs.
Or at least among whichever of them are still around in the spring.
The signing of McCarthy allows the Diamondbacks to use their organizational pitching depth to upgrade their roster in other areas. McCarthy’s injury history (from past years, not his freak ball-off-the-head injury from 2012) means that he will likely miss some stretch of time over his two-year contract, but the Diamondbacks have enough pitching depth to trade some away and still have a capable sixth or seventh starter within their own organization.
With a solid offensive nucleus consisting of Justin Upton (for the time being), Paul Goldschmidt, Aaron Hill, Miguel Montero, Adam Eaton and Jason Kubel, the Diamondbacks feel that they aren’t far from competing in the suddenly deep NL West.
But they have a massive hole at shortstop without any viable internal options.
They have been linked this winter to Cleveland Indians shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera. The signing of McCarthy means that their collection of young pitchers only have to fill one rotation spot instead of two, making them possible trade bait for a player like Cabrera.
Trading young pitching, especially Bauer, would be a high price to pay for immediate returns, but in a division that is quickly improving, the Diamondbacks are feeling hard-pressed to make a major move this off-season. The addition of McCarthy gives them the ability to do just that.