NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tomorrow comes up a lot here. Granted, it’s December and the nearest thing to a baseball game is a jamoke in a Nate Colbert jersey stalking for an A.J. Preller autograph.
But, as far as the winter meetings are concerned, every tomorrow is Christmas. At worst, tomorrow is a tag-along thing, stapled to today, as though today couldn’t possibly exist without, you know, tomorrow, because today without tomorrow is like plaids without skinny jeans.
Which is what’s made the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offseason pretty satisfying.
Today, boys. Today. Nobody’s getting any younger, the Dodgers aren’t getting any poorer, the Giants aren’t getting any dumber, and Paul Goldschmidt and A.J. Pollock aren’t getting any more ready to win.
Yeah, the Red Sox run hard at today and the Cubs ain’t playin’ around anymore and the Dodgers are probably backing up the dump truck as we speak, but we’re talking about the Diamondbacks, a plucky little club that managed 2015 on about $88 million, that four years ago had a payroll under $60 million. Not only did they riffle $206.5 million under Zack Greinke’s nose last week, they flipped two former first-rounders (and a big-league outfielder) to the Braves for Shelby Miller on Tuesday, and this is what today looks like.
In six months, they traded away first-round draft picks from 2013 (right-hander Aaron Blair, 36th overall), 2014 (right-hander Touki Toussaint, 16th overall) and 2015 (shortstop Dansby Swanson, 1st overall). In a day, they spent more than $200 million on a 32-year-old pitcher. They’d like to make further upgrades to the bullpen and the rotation.
Tomorrow? Pssh, we’ll get to that.
Dave Stewart, the 168-game winner and their general manager, sat Wednesday morning in the afterglow of turning the Diamondbacks into today’s team. Doesn’t mean they’re going to win. Doesn’t even mean they’ll be expected to win the NL West. But he – they – have put what weight they have behind whatever comes of 2016, and might not yet be done.
“Quite frankly,” Stewart said, “we think that it’s time to try to take it to the next level.”
He would not predict a division championship, something the Diamondbacks have not done since 2011. He would not suggest the Diamondbacks were favorites. But, to have invested what they have and not expect both would be folly. If that cost a little bit of some tomorrow that may or may not come, welp …
“People have always asked me, what is the worst part of my job?” he said. “And my answer has always been, ‘Sometimes you do things that you don’t want to.’ Believe me, I didn’t take any great pleasure in trading Touki Toussaint, or Aaron Blair, or … Dansby Swanson. But in the short term it makes our major league team better. It gives us an opportunity to win today. And that’s what my thought was in the moves that we made.”
Reminded – or, perhaps, informed – that he gave an excessive amount to acquire Miller, Stewart, stone-faced, responded, “I would say that is incorrect. That’s three players. And, believe me, they’re very highly regarded players, but three players do not make our future.”
Besides, he said, a year ago Miller was traded for outfielder Jason Heyward, “And right now Jason Heyward is looking for $200 million. So we got a guy, quite frankly, if you value it that way, we got great value.”
There’s that. Along with this quick synopsis of where things had stood with the Marlins on a trade for Jose Fernandez, who the Marlins say they will not trade, who the Marlins appear to be only too happy to trade for the proper abundant (some would say outrageous) take: “We were just in conversation. Quite frankly, the only person that knows – or the only people that know – if we were close or if we weren’t would be the Marlins.”
Presumably the Marlins would have required Pollock.
“A.J. has always been a no for me,” Stewart said.
Stewart says “quite frankly” a lot, and then, as you can see, delivers, which makes him a refreshing character here. He says those words from behind cool eyes, and now behind a roster that has a chance. A real chance.
“What would you do to win?” he said. “That’s how I look at it. … We’re in the business here to win.”
Today. Starting today.