Having fallen short in their pursuit of Masahiro Tanaka, the Diamondbacks don’t sound all that enamored of the remaining free-agent starting pitchers. When it comes to right-handers Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana, for example, the Diamondbacks are wary of their inconsistent track records and high price tags and don’t want to give up a draft pick to sign them. All of this is very good news for Archie Bradley’s chances of making an impact in 2014. Bradley, the Diamondbacks’ top prospect, hasn’t thrown an inning above Double-A and isn’t on the 40-man roster. But he’s been invited to big-league camp and will get a chance to compete for the fifth spot in the starting rotation. And that creates the possibility for a series of interesting decisions for the Diamondbacks in how they’ll handle him. First, there’s the timing of when to bring him up. Last year, Bradley posted a 1.84 ERA in 152 innings in High-A and Double-A. He is generally regarded as one of the top two or three pitching prospects in all of baseball. You never know with prospects, particularly pitchers, many of whom disappoint. But, obviously, if Bradley lives up expectations he will be a hugely valuable commodity, someone the Diamondbacks will want to have in their organization for as long as possible. And the best way to maximize club control and stave off free agency is to not have him on the Opening Day roster. If the Diamondbacks were to wait until late April to bring him to the majors, it would mean he would be under club control through 2020 (assuming he stays in the majors continuously). If they bring him up right away, he’d be eligible for free agency after 2019. Thinking this far ahead in a notoriously hard-to-predict sport might seem crazy, but promoting Bradley right away is something a team such as the Tampa Bay Rays would never do. Not only is that an extra year of production the team could get out of Bradley themselves, it’s a year that could prove highly valuable on the trade market.
Diamondbacks might look to Archie Bradley to bolster rotation
Arizona Republic | Jan 29