The Diamondbacks made a stop-gap maneuver giving Adam LaRoche a $6 million dollar deal with a reasonable $7.5 million dollar 2010 mutual option for 2011. This, in theory, is an easy contract to move except for the fact that the 2011 buyout becomes $9.5 million dollars if he is indeed traded. (Thanks Cots MLB contracts!) Even with that clause I believe he will still be fairly easy to move given the reasonableness of the option year and then of course, money can always change hands between teams in a trade.
Where I am going with this? Well as I mentioned this is a stop-gap maneuver - well at least the Diamondbacks hope it is as Brandon Allen, acquired from the White Sox last season, is rather close to the majors. If and when he is ready, the Diamondbacks have the choice of moving the oft-traded LaRoche to a contender. If not he's an inexpensive and stable option to keep on their team.
Allen, meanwhile, struggled in his MLB debut, but that's not surprising for a slugger with 30-plus home run potential, especially over such a small sample. In the minors he's struck out about a quarter of the time over his career but jumped to 38|PERCENT| of the time during his stay in the majors. On the positive side, he translated his good patience to the majors walking over 10|PERCENT| of the time. Over the past two seasons in the minors Allen has made some good strides in the development of his plate discipline, walking no less than 10.9|PERCENT| of the time at any of his minor league stops during that period. He has also reduced his strikeout rate, fanning fewer than 20|PERCENT| of the time at two minor league stops in 2009.
One area of concern, though he did actually hit better against lefties than righties in the minors this past season, is whether he'll keep that up, as his splits in 2008 were quite the reverse - just .225 against lefties, .304 against righties. Right now the 24-year old has less than half season's experience at Triple-A so he'll start there. Long-term it wouldn't surprise me to see him have a career very much like the player he may replace, Adam LaRoche – .270's hitter with 25-30 home runs.
Baltimore's rotation is flush with young talent in its rotation. Both Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz will have opening day spots. Still more spots are likely to open up as the season progresses. Enter Jake Arrieta who made 28 starts last season - 17 at Triple-A - and who first turns 24 later this week. While some may like him better as a reliever, he's got four major-league potential pitches - two of them being rated "plus". His control also improved last season - 3.5 BB/9 in Double-A and a 3.2 BB/9 in Triple-A. However, his K/9 did drop from a 10-plus in Double-A to a still solid, but not as exciting, 7.7 in Triple-A during that same time period. While he's still learning to command and throw his pitches more effectively, Arrieta has the upside to be a middle to upper end of the rotation starter and is worth a look during your AL-only keeper-league drafts.