40-Man Roster Deadline Analysis: NL West

Kyle Lewis
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The 40-man roster deadline led to the usual squall of transaction activity, with teams turning over portions of their rosters in an effort to make room for the incoming crop of young rookies. Often, teams with an overflow of viable big leaguers will try to get back what they can for some of those players via trade, but because we’re talking about guys straddling the line between major league viability and Triple-A, those trades tend not to be big enough to warrant an entire post.

Here I endeavor to cover and analyze the moves made by each team, division by division. Readers can view this as the start of list season, as the players covered in this miniseries tend to be prospects who will get big league time in the next year. We’ll spend more time discussing players who we think need scouting updates or who we haven’t written about in the past. If you want additional detail on some of the more famous names you find below, pop over to The Board for a more thorough report.

The Future Value grades littered throughout these posts may be different than those on the 2022 in-season prospect lists on The Board to reflect our updated opinions and may be subject to change during the offseason. New to our thinking on this subject and wondering what the FVs mean? Here’s a quick rundown. Note that because we’re talking about close-to-the-majors prospects across this entire exercise, the time and risk component is less present here and these FVs are what we think the players are right now.

Arizona Diamondbacks

Current 40-man Count: 39
Added Prospects: CF Jorge Barrosa (45 FV), SIRP Justin Martinez (40+ FV), OF Dominic Fletcher (35+ FV), SS Blaze Alexander (35+ FV)
External Additions: CF Kyle Lewis, SIRP Carlos Vargas (40 FV)

Quickly on Alexander before we talk about this outfield situation: He is a good defensive shortstop with a 70-grade arm and a 20- or 30-grade bat. He gives Arizona a viable defensive shortstop behind the oft-injured Nick Ahmed and Geraldo Perdomo, replacing Sergio Alcántara, the Derek Jeter of Licey.

The two righty-hitting outfielders who would at times spell Arizona’s excellent young lefty contingent — Jordan Luplow and Stone Garrett — were DFA’d and non-tendered, and 2020 Rookie of the Year Lewis was added via trade from Seattle. Lewis’ chronic knee issues likely push him to a corner outfield spot going forward, and perhaps sharing time as the shorter end of a platoon will help lighten the physical load enough for him to stay healthy and produce on offense. Arizona dealt C/OF Cooper Hummel to Seattle for Lewis after giving him another extended look behind the plate during the Arizona Fall League. Most scouts (and yours truly) don’t think Hummel is a fit back there, and so he was made extremely redundant by the Serpientes’ long line of Lilliputian lefty outfielders, which grew deeper with their additions.

With Daulton Varsho, Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy already on the roster, Arizona added Fletcher and Barrosa (who is actually a switch-hitter) to the 40-man. Barrosa lacks power but does everything else. His hit tool, plate discipline, and defense in center field are all plus, and even though I believe his power output at Amarillo was a caricature of his actual pop, there’s enough good stuff here to consider him more of a fourth outfielder who plays a lot rather than a light-hitting fifth outfielder, which is how I had him evaluated in the low minors. I’m more skeptical of Fletcher, who I consider a better fit in a corner; that combined with his tendency to chase makes his profile feel tenuous.

Arizona’s glut of these sorts of players would seemingly put the team in position to make at least one trade involving this group during the offseason. Miami (starved for offense, especially from the outfield positions), Cleveland (has pitching depth Arizona could use, also arguably a fit for Christian Walker), Toronto, and many more are logical fits. Basically any team rumored to be interested in Cody Bellinger considers itself in need of a lefty-hitting outfielder who can play center and is therefore a potential trade partner for Arizona. The market might be more favorable for Mike Hazen and co. after Brandon Nimmo signs, as the combination of talent and years of control make virtually all of their trade candidates the next most attractive option.

Martinez returned from Tommy John surgery with his mid-to-upper-90s arm strength intact and developed a nasty splitter — a pitch that was entirely new for him in 2022 — that might be good enough for him to work high-leverage innings. He and Vargas, acquired from the Guardians, are the only two 40-man adds to a very needy bullpen. Vargas had no 2020 season, then had Tommy John surgery in ’21, which kept him out until June of this year, and while his arm strength returned (he sat 96–99 mph in the back half of the season), he has very little feel for location. That’s understandable given that he just completed his injury rehab and hadn’t pitched for several years, so he may have just been rusty. He’s been an exciting upper-90s/plus slider prospect for nearly a half decade now, the back half of that derailed by COVID shutdown and injury.

The Diamondbacks have several injury-addled names to know who weren’t put on the 40-man but who could be within a year. They took a shot on former Royal Tyler Zuber, who looked like a solid middle relief option prior to shoulder problems. Two-way college player Conor Grammes, who has shown two plus or better pitches at times, ended the year on the IL after struggling to throw strikes across fewer than 20 innings. He had just come back from TJ, too. Young righty Jhosmer Alvarez fits into this bucket, as well. At times he’s been 94–97 with a plus split, but he’s hurt a lot and only pitched nine innings in 2022.

Colorado Rockies

Current 40-man Count: 39
Added Prospects: 3B Warming Bernabel (45 FV), CF Brenton Doyle (40+ FV), Julio Carreras (40 FV), Riley Pint (35+ FV), Blair Calvo (40 FV)
External Additions: Nolan Jones (40+ FV, trade from Cleveland), Brent Suter (claimed off waivers from Milwaukee), Dylan Spain (from ATL for Sam Hilliard, not on 40-man)

The Rockies had about as many departures as they did additions, non-tendering Garrett Hampson, losing catcher Dom Nuñez and leftfielder Ryan Vilade via waivers, trading would-be 40-man addition Juan Brito to Cleveland, and outrighting three players, most notably young lefty Helcris Olivarez, off the roster. Olivarez’s health is shrouded in mystery. Contacts in the Rockies org won’t disclose what has ailed him such that he was on the club’s late-season Arizona Complex roster as a rehabber but never threw. My scout sources who cover the org are also in the dark.

The most notable addition here was Jones, who has been one of the more statistically extreme prospects in baseball since he was drafted in 2016. He has never run a walk rate lower than 14% at any minor league level and has gargantuan raw power, but there is disagreement among scouts as to whether he actually has premium plate discipline or if he’s just passive in the box. There are also indications that Jones isn’t going to get to his power in games, or at least that he hasn’t been. Film study shows that he struggles to lift and sometimes even make contact with offspeed pitches in the bottom of the strike zone. Synergy Sports has him slashing just .169/.235/.315 against breaking balls in 2022, though that sample is somewhat limited because he missed much of the first half with injury. Jones is also averaging just three degrees of launch off the bat, part of why his raw power hasn’t actualized in games. These indicators combined with his fall down the defensive spectrum (he played only right field in 2022) and lack of defensive versatility bring about a pretty significant re-evaluation here. He is still projected as a meaningful role player with this FV grade, but not a 2-WAR regular, where I had him for the last couple of offseasons.

Bernabel is likely to be on the 40-man in a purely developmental capacity next year, but he is a good-looking young hitter. He has some approach-driven bust risk, though; he walked at a nearly 10% clip in 2022, easily a career-high, but his underlying plate discipline metrics are not as strong. His 54% swing rate in 2022 would tie him for the most aggressive among big league third basemen, and his 37% chase rate is comfortably worse than the big league average — and Bernabel posted that mark in A-ball. At age 20, it’s possible he’ll grow into enough power via physical maturity to profile as an eventual big league regular, but he may also be an Elehuris Montero sequel with a slightly better glove.

It’s a little tougher to anticipate 24-year-old Doyle’s big league timeline because, even though he’s a little older, he’s barely tasted Triple-A and might spend most or all of 2023 there. It’s rare for players who strike out as often as he does to be successful big leaguers, but his raw power (plus) and speed (plus-plus) sure are tantalizing. Like lots of the Rockies’ hitting prospects, Doyle has below-average plate discipline, which foment his already shaky feel for contact.

After a rough 2021, Carreras had a bounceback 2022, posting a 129 wRC+ at High-A and playing a pretty good defensive shortstop. His range is only fair, but the quickness of his hands and his huge arm strength make him a shortstop fit, and while he probably won’t reach base enough to be an everyday producer there, he has enough pop to make for a dangerous 1-WAR utility infielder. I quite like Ronaiker Palma and Juan Guerrero, who were both unprotected and are Rule 5 eligible. Palma’s lack of physicality might be a barrier between him and being drafted, but he has fantastic catch-and-throw skills and could be a 40–60 game backup in 2023, with more long-term upside because of his contact skills. He played at the same level Carreras did all year. Guerrero was a level below them, too far away to be considered for the Rule 5 even if you like him.

Pint has made the 40-man after briefly retiring. His heavy mid-90s sinker and upper-80s cutter/slider look like a middle relief fit on pure stuff, but his command causes them, especially the fastball, to play down, and he’s in up/down territory right now. Calvo is not as famous as Pint, but his stuff and command are both better. Like Pint, his fastball doesn’t always play like a mid-90s pitch because of its tailing shape, but his slider (which looked incredible in the Fall League) has so much length that it might be a 70-grade pitch. He’s definitely a consistent on-roster reliever. I typically won’t 40+ (or better) a pure reliever unless they have multiple bat-missing weapons, but perhaps I’m underrating the impact of Calvo’s slider quality here.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Current 40-man Count: 36
Added Prospects: C Diego Cartaya (55 FV), DH Michael Busch (50 FV), RF Andy Pages (50 FV), CF Jonny DeLuca
External Additions: SIRP Jake Reed (waiver claim from Red Sox)

Let’s begin with who the Dodgers did not protect, as they left four 40-man spots open and opted to scoop slinging reliever Reed off waivers rather than add some of their internal bullpen candidates. Teams are typically more likely to lose someone to waivers (a player who can later be outrighted off the 40-man, clear waivers and remain with their new org) than in the Rule 5 draft (players are tougher to retain due to the season-long roster requirement), and a crowded 40-man heightens the risk of offseason DFAs when the Dodgers pursue free agents or trades, so this line of play makes sense for them even though I think they are likely to lose at least one player in the draft. I think Carlos Duran is the most likely, among the pitchers anyway. He missed the first half of the 2022 season with a shoulder injury but was back to sitting in the mid-90s when he returned and built back up to five-inning outings late in the year. The 21-year-old has a heavy sinker and a potential plus-plus slider spearheading a developmental starter’s pitch mix. A drafting team could deploy him as a reliever (he threw just 48 innings in 2022 — it’s a snug workload fit) before resuming starter development in 2024. His slider has an elite spin rate (about 3,000 rpm) and grades out well in other proprietary pitch metrics, and his fastball’s sink and tail keep it off barrels. His size (6-foot-7) and the visual nastiness of his stuff provide the eyeball scouting compliment to the data.

Unprotected reliever Nick Robertson sits 94–96 and has an above-average changeup. Double-A starter Gus Varland sits 95 (there might be more in relief) and his slider has plus action, though it generates fewer whiffs than you’d guess given its visual length. Teams obsessed with release point height might consider Adolfo Ramirez, a four-pitch little guy with an extreme drop-and-drive delivery and uphill fastball. He had a two-tick fastball bump in 2022 (sitting 93 now) and throws enough strikes to start, but he only worked 70 innings in 2022. He hasn’t been on a Dodgers prospect list before but is maybe the next most likely to be popped in the Rule 5 after Duran. Long reliever Jose Martinez has a deep repertoire and generates a ton of ground balls, but his peripheral stats (walk and strikeout rates) have trended down as he’s reached the upper levels. This group is a more mature contingent that teams could consider an upgrade to their current low-leverage options. Lower-level prospects, like Jeisson Cabrera (who was hurt most of the year but throwing inaccurate 95–98-mph fire during instructs), are probably too far away to be considered.

I think at least one of outfielder Ryan Ward and first basemen Ryan Noda and Justin Yurchak will be drafted. The three of them have been too productive at the upper levels for a team like Oakland (which has a history of taking strong statistical performers) not to consider them an upgrade to Dermis Garcia and the like. Noda has clubbed at least 25 homers each of the last two years, with power on par with what’s typical at the position, and has a great feel for the strike zone, but there are some indications that he struggles to handle velocity. He hit .209 against fastballs 93 mph and above in 2022, per Synergy Sports. Yurchak is the opposite, combining contact and approach but not power, and adept at getting on top of high fastballs. Ward is the well-rounded member of the trio, with his hit/power/patience all hovering around average, the power perhaps a bit above. None of them projects to be a star, but they’re near-ready, above-replacement hitters who all have the platoon advantage most of the time.

Young outfielder Jose Ramos is the highest-ranked prospect of the players not added, a player I had on a Top 100 trajectory entering the year. He was swinging underneath tons of fastballs in the Fall League, in which he played 20 games, providing the industry with an extended evaluation. Ramos’ operation is so uphill, and his head is often flying all over the place as he swings. His power and physical projection are tantalizing, but his hit tool has become terrifying.

Now to the players who were protected. Pages has enough playable power to be an everyday corner outfielder. Busch has no position (his is not a range issue; his hands are simply not good enough to field the baseball consistently), but I still think he’s going to rake enough to be a 2-WAR designated hitter. Cartaya is a high-variance prospect with a risky hit tool and stuff to clean up on defense, but his ceiling is enormous if he improves both, and he’s probably an everyday player even if he just cleans up one of them. DeLuca’s hit tool and passable defense in center field made him a more secure-feeling addition than Ramos, especially with the org presently thin at the position.

San Diego Padres

Current 40-man Count: 33
Added Prospects: SP Pedro Avila (35+ FV), SIRP Tom Cosgrove (35+ FV)
External Additions: SP Julio Teheran (minor league deal, not on the 40-man)

Readers are probably familiar with Avila, who debuted in 2019 but hasn’t pitched enough to exhaust rookie eligibility. He had a strike-throwing rebound in 2022 and again looks like a changeup-heavy depth starter. Reliever Cosgrove is a low-three-quarters-slot lefty with a huge, sweeping slider that he leans on more than his low-90s cut/rise fastball. The Padres have a ton of 40-man space entering the meat of the offseason, having outrighted dodgeball player Austin Adams and non-tendered Jorge Alfaro and starter Efrain Contreras, whose pre-TJ arm strength bump did not sustain upon return (at best he was 92–94 in the Fall League).

He’s not a prospect, but it’s worth noting that 31-year-old former mid-rotation stalwart Teheran appears to have had a little velocity rebound after a year away from affiliated ball. The ultra-athletic sinkerballer has been parked in the 91–93 range and topped out at 95 on the TV radar gun for LIDOM’s Toros del Este. It’s not like he’s held that across a whole season, but this is the hardest Teheran has thrown in half a decade.

San Francisco Giants

Current 40-man Count: 37
Added Prospects: SS Marco Luciano (55 FV), CF Luis Matos (45+ FV), SP Keaton Winn (40+ FV), SP Tristan Beck (40 FV), 2B Isan Díaz
External Additions: 2B Brett Wisely (40 FV, traded from Rays)

Taking one look at the Giants’ transaction page will illustrate how active they tend to be on the margins of their roster, turning over huge sections of it at a time. This includes tons of players who were claimed off waivers and then designated for assignment, illustrating the dynamic I outlined in the Dodgers section.

Luciano’s bat speed makes him a star if he can stay on the infield, and “merely” a very good player even if he ends up moving to right field. Matos’ bat speed looks, to me, to have regressed some. His defensive ability and gorgeous swing are still exciting elements and give him impact potential, but his distance from the big leagues and approach issues, combined with my purely subjective opinion around his bat speed, merit an FV change. Both will spend a developmental year on the 40-man, in all likelihood.

Winn returned from Tommy John with mid-90s velocity, sitting 95 across about 100 innings after not pitching since 2019. His plus splitter and average slider give him a starter’s mix, and his strike-throwing was better than I expected when he vaulted up the Giants list in the middle of the year. I still think there’s relief risk here based on how violent his delivery is, and his injury history, but he has the innings foundation to play a big league role in 2023 if he kicks down the door. Beck remains a four-pitch fifth starter prospect. Low-A reliever Jose Cruz has an upshot mid-90s fastball and what might develop into a nightmare changeup, if it isn’t already. He has late-inning potential, and if the Giants consider him a reliever only, then there’s no reason to slow-play his promotion pace.

Both Wisely and former top 100 prospect Díaz will vie for lefty infield at-bats behind or instead of incumbent Tommy La Stella. Wisely was squeezed off the Rays’ roster by their prospect depth and acquired via trade. He’s a well-rounded, compact lefty hitter with an all-fields approach and average raw power that might play above that in games due to the quality of his contact. Díaz had a power output rebound in 2022 and once again clubbed 20 homers, likely aided by the PCL hitting environment. I can’t identify any swing changes here compared to his time in Miami; he still has issues against breaking stuff, though he didn’t swing through as many of them inside the strike zone in 2022.

Eric Longenhagen is from Catasauqua, PA and currently lives in Tempe, AZ. He spent four years working for the Phillies Triple-A affiliate, two with Baseball Info Solutions and two contributing to prospect coverage at ESPN.com. Previous work can also be found at Sports On Earth, CrashburnAlley and Prospect Insider.

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Steven Gonzalesmember
1 year ago

dodgeball player Austin Adams” is gold