Apparently, the Diamondbacks’ search for a 2016 closer ended here in early November. That’s because the club picked up a $5.5 million option on closer Brad Ziegler Tuesday.
After the club banished early-season closer Addision Reed to the minors and then eventually traded the right-hander to the National League champion New York Mets, Ziegler, one of the best set-up relievers in the majors, was moved into the closer’s spot. The 36 year-old native of Pratt, Neb. proceeded to set a career mark with 30 saves and tied a club record by converting 28 straight save opportunities at the end of the season.
In the process, Ziegler put up strong numbers. Right-handed batters hit .179 against Ziegler with no home runs allowed. He went 14-for-15 in save opportunities in Chase Field and established a franchise record for the lowest ERA by a reliever. For 66 appearances in 2015, Ziegler went 0-3 but posted that franchise-best 1.85 ERA.
In addition on Tuesday, the Diamondbacks also picked up a $1.825 million option on right-hander Josh Collmenter. Starting the campaign as the Diamondbacks’ Openign Day pitcher, Collmenter fell on hard times and was eventually exiled to the bullpen. Used essentially as a long reliever by manager Chip Hale, Collmenter is likely penciled in as the Diamondbacks’ long reliever for 2016.
If that’s the plan, the organization then has its sight on Randall Delgado as a potential starter. For the recently completed season, Delgado was 8-4 with a 3.25 ERA, but Hale told reporters throughout the season that Delgado’s arm and athletic personality are more suited as a starter.
For his part, Collmenter struggled with a 4-6 record but recorded a respectable 3.79 ERA. Starting 12 games, he relieved in only 32 games. For parts of the season, the native of Homer, Mich. tended to disappear. Perhaps the reason was that Collmenter is not a true reliever and Hale had difficulty spotting him for a batter or two.
Compare Collmenter with left-hander Andrew Chafin, who came into spring training looking for a spot in the rotation. Yet, Chain settled nicely into his role out of the bullpen and finished with a 2-1 mark and a 2.76 ERA for his first, full season in the majors. Among National League rookies, Chafin ranked second in appearances, tied for second in saves and tied for eighth in wins. Plus, Hale used Chafin in 66 games. That’s just half the amount he used Collmenter.
Though Ziegler and Collmenter are signed for 2016, that does not necessarily mean they have locked in a roster spot. With the off-season trade winds about to blow, Collmenter, Ziegler or anyone else on the roster, save perhaps Paul Goldschmidt and A. J. Pollock, could be thrown to the wolves.
For now, the signing of Collmenter and Ziegler represented another layer of security. If the club is unable to secure a closer for the 2016 season, Ziegler does present some issues. Perhaps the main concern is his durability.
Many pundits believe the Diamondbacks could be poised to improve their lot in the National League West Division. If that’s the case, they would need a reliable closer who will record 43 to 50 saves. After many mound appearances, Ziegler sported an ice bag on his left knee and continued to be watchful. In September, 2013, he underwent season-ending mircofracture surgery on his left knee and took precautions throughout last season to safeguard wear, tear and endurance.
With Collmenter as well, the Diamondbacks may dangle the right–hander for trade considerations, and see if there are any takers. At any rate, the signings of Ziegler and Collmenter do give the Diamondbacks a safety blanket. That’s in case the club, if it desires, is unable to move either or both players.
Rosters for the Arizona Fall League All-Star Game slated for this Saturday Nov. 7 at Salt River were announced. The Diamondbacks are represented with two prospects.
Catcher Oscar Hernandez and right-hander Adam Miller were selected to play for the East Division. Because he was a Rule 5 selection off the Tampa Bay roster, Hernandez spent the 2015 season on the Diamondbacks 25-man roster. Miller was a 20th round pick in the 2013 draft. For the 2015 Fall League, Hernandez, though games of Tuesday, as batting .167 (5-for-30), two doubles and two RBIs. Miller was 0-0 with a 4.50 ERA in four appearances.