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An unofficial Arizona Diamondbacks community and blog



Updated: 2016-12-10T09:00:04-05:00

 



Diamondbacks add four for minor-league depth

2016-12-10T09:00:04-05:00

Four signings were announced last night by Arizona, with the players concerned all being assigned to the Reno Aces. Nothing particularly earth-shattering here, and odds are heavily against any of them making the Opening Day roster (unless something goes really wrong). Indeed, it’s quite possible we’ll see none of them at all with the major-league club during the 2017 season. But just so you know, here are details on the four men in question. OF Reymond Fuentes Fuentes was a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, going to the Boston Red Sox with the 28th overall selection. He was part of the Adrian Gonzalez trade to the Padres, and made his major-league debut with San Diego in 2013 (by coincidence, against Arizona). He appeared in 23 games there, mostly off the bench, but was dealt to Kansas City at the end of 2014. After a strong spring, he made the Royals’ Opening Day roster this year, but only as a fill-in until Jarrod Dyson returned from injury, and was released by Kansas City in mid-September. Overall, he’s a .243 hitter in 36 major-league games, though won the Puerto Rico winter batting title last year, and is still only 25 years old. Fun fact: he’s a second cousin to Carlos Beltran, through his mother. RHP Brooks Hall Selected in the fourth-round of the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Hall had spent his entire pro career with them, until becoming a free-agent at the end of last season. Over seven years, he has a 4.13 ERA in 140 appearances, including 92 starts, with a K:BB ratio of 390:177 in 564.2 innings. He reached Triple-A for the first time in 2016, but did not enjoy Colorado Springs, posting a 7.71 ERA over 13 relief stints. He was much better in Double-A, with a 3.48 ERA over 20 games, seven of them starts. Our friends at Brew Crew Ball would have liked to see him re-signed, but he’s ours now! Fun fact: Hall was drafted out of T. L. Hanna High School, in Anderson, SC, which has only ever produced one major-league player - but he’s a good one: Hall of Famer, Jim Rice. OF Jason Pridie The most experienced of the signings, Pridie has appeared in 133 major-league games, the great majority of those coming in the 2011 campaign with the New York Mets. Since then, he has been seen in four of the five seasons, but never in more than 10 games. He spent 2016 in the Japanese minor leagues, as part of the Hiroshima Carp organization. He received a 50-game suspension in 2012, after a second failed test for a recreational drug, and later said, "I made a stupid decision." The veteran turned 33 in October, and was drafted back in 2002 by the Rays; he was in the deal that brought Matt Garza from Minnesota, and Arizona will be his eighth MLB organization. Fun fact: But it’ll be a homecoming of sorts for Pridie, as he was born in Phoenix, and went to school in Prescott. RHP Asher Wojciechowski Another first-round pick, this time in the 2010 draft by the Blue Jays, who traded him to the Astros two years later, as part of the J.A. Happ swap. He reached the majors with them in 2015, making three starts and two relief appearances, with an ERA of 7.16, and was selected off waivers by the Miami Marlins in May this year. He had a 4.94 minor-league ERA in 17 starts and three relief appearances, with a 63:38 K:BB in 85.2 innings of work. Growing up, Wojciechowski and his family spent time on a mission working in a Romanian orphanage, and played on the country’s first Little League team. Fun fact: If Asher makes the big leagues with Arizona, he’ll have the second-longest surname in Diamondbacks history, tied at 13 characters with Ryan Rowland-Smith. I’ll leave you to figure out who’s #1! [...]



2016 Arizona Diamondbacks Play of the Year voting

2016-12-10T01:47:32-05:00

The preliminaries are over: it’s time for the final vote! Last week, we had five elimination rounds, all of which contained five potential nominees in the first AZ SnakePit award category for the 2016 season. The selections which gained most votes in each group, have qualified for this final vote. Here’s a reminder of the finalists. 4/18 - Lamb last strike homer Group 1 winner: 57% of the vote. The opening game against the Giants this year looked lost, after Arizona let San Francisco reclaim the lead in the bottom of the eighth. But, down to his last strike with two outs in the ninth, Jake Lamb homered off Santiago Casilla, tying things up, and the D-backs won in 11. frameborder="0" height="224" width="400" src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=600131683&topic_id=6479266&width=400&height=224&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. 5/6 - Castillo/Ahmed throw out/tag Group 2 winner: 43% of the vote. When it came to throwing out base-runners, Welington Castillo's numbers this year were among the best in the major leagues. But in this case, it took an amazing throw around the batter, on a pitch in the dirt, plus a great assist from his infield, in the shape of Nick Ahmed, to nail the runner. frameborder="0" height="224" width="400" src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=664786083&topic_id=6479266&width=400&height=224&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. 6/24 - Weeks catch at wall Group 3 winner: 35% of the vote. This was certainly a game saver. With two men on base and one out in the bottom of the ninth inning, and Arizona clinging to a 10-9 lead at Coors Field, anything but a catch would certainly have tied the game, if not given Colorado a walk-off. But Rickie Weeks Jr came through. frameborder="0" height="224" width="400" src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=854313983&topic_id=6479266&width=400&height=224&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. 7/2 - Castillo's clutchiest homer Group 4 winner: 38% of the vote. This was the year's biggest hit by a D-back, in Win Probability terms. Down two runs in the bottom of the eighth, Welington Castillo's three-run shot was worth +59.9%. As a yardstick, only three D-backs had better games in terms of impact, all this season. frameborder="0" height="224" width="400" src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=886795783&topic_id=6479266&width=400&height=224&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. 10/1 - Bradley fields comebacker Group 5 winner: 63% of the vote. Last but not least in these top-rate plays, we have Archie Bradley's last start, where he didn't just strike out a career-high 11 batters, he also delivered this impressively athletic play to get the out at first. Given his previous history, even just fending off the ball was impressive! frameborder="0" height="224" width="400" src="http://m.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=1199343183&topic_id=51231442&width=400&height=224&property=mlb">Your browser does not support iframes. Poll What was the Play of the Year for the 2016 Diamondbacks? 4/18 - Lamb last strike homer 5/6 - Castillo/Ahmed throw out/tag 6/24 - Weeks catch at wall 7/2 - Castillo's clutchiest homer 10/1 - Bradley fields comebacker   0 votes | Results [...]



Project the Diamondbacks Win Total for 2016

2016-12-09T18:00:01-05:00

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In a fun offseason exercise, I have a spreadsheet available for the average fan to project how he or she thinks the team will fare. Now that we've hit the slow part of the offseason between the Winter Meetings and New Year's. It does not necessarily mean the team is done making moves.

For a fun exercise this Winter, I put up my own projection chart for how I think the Diamondbacks will fare individually. Overall, the calculations themselves aren't as precise as top baseball stat webpages like Fangraphs or Baseball Reference because the formulas I use themselves are imperfect. Overall, I utilized an overall Park Factor of 105 for Chase Field in the calculations for calculating +/- metrics like wRC+, ERA-, etc. Fangraphs depth chart projects the Dbacks will put up 29.0 WAR in 2017 and finish 76-86.

Using the payroll regression formula, the Diamondbacks current estimated payroll of $90.85M and a league average of $150M, that puts the team at 74-88. I project the Diamondbacks position players to put up 19.0 WAR and the pitching staff 13.8 WAR. That adds up to 32.8 WAR or a 80-82 record projection. Another W-L prediction, I used with the team's 2016 record of 69-93 as the baseline. The Diamondbacks contributed 24.5 WAR in 2016 and are projected for 32.8 WAR in 2017 or a 8.3 WAR increase. Add those wins to the 2016 record and the 2017 record projects to 77-85. The final record projection I used is Pythagorean record, with the team scoring 722 runs on offense and the pitching allowing 791 runs. That adds up to a 72-90 record. That puts a prediction low of 72 wins and a high of 80 wins. I took the average of the four predictors and got 76 wins, so my prediction for 2017 is 76-86 with the current roster. You can find this on the final tab of the spreadsheet.

Here is the spreadsheet itself for you to play around with. I also welcome anyone to use this spreadsheet to write a fan post about how they think the team will perform in 2017. Please don't change the formulas though, I spent hours inserting and proofreading them.

src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1QFjDxHphADCrpyQHj185V4t4BH5yND1g7Hv5--KAeLI/edit?usp=sharing" width="100%" height="1000">




Pitch framing: What is it, and why it matters to the Diamondbacks

2016-12-09T15:30:01-05:00

The arrival of Jeff Mathis suggests a new aspect of front-office philosophy is now in play for Arizona. We believe in the metrics. We believe in the data. We believe in trying to do as much research as possible. We have a great team of people that are working hard behind the scenes. And, look, if it can help us win an inning, win a moment that could lead us to winning a game, we're in favor of that. We're trying to stay ahead of that. I think baseball is trending in that direction; that there's a certain metric that is kind of helping teams win games. We want to be a part of that. — Torey Lovullo While not actually speaking about pitch framing, the above quote from the new Diamondbacks’ manager is something it’s almost impossible to imagine coming out of the mouth of Chip Hale - and even less so, Hale’s predecessor Kirk Gibson. It appears this team is going to try and squeeze every advantage they can out of the game, and with a payroll looking likely to be a fraction of that available in Los Angeles and San Francisco, it’s probably the only way to compete. The signing of Jeff Mathis, expected by Lovullo to start 60 times a year, is significant, because Mathis’s value is certainly not with the bat. He has hit below the Uecker Line over his career, batting .197, with an OPS of just .562. His value since 2010 has been just 0.6 bWAR. So why was he signed? Because he does something very well, which doesn’t show up in his batting stats, or even in bWAR. That’s his defense in general, and one area in particular - pitch framing. According to ESPN, “Over the past nine seasons, Mathis ranks fifth among catchers in defensive runs saved. And on a per-inning basis [for Mathis has averaged fewer than seventy games per year], he rates better than the leader, Yadier Molina.” Let’s look further into this dark and mysterious talent. What is pitch framing? Simply put, it’s the art of making a pitch that’s a ball to the hitter, look like a strike to the home-plate umpire. Officials are human, and while most pitches are going to be called the same, it’s borderline ones where the way the catcher receives the ball that can impact the umpire’s call. There are any number of factors that can be used gently to coax the man in blue to make the “right” decision. For example, the best pitch framers have what are called “quiet hands”, meaning they don’t stab at the ball. There’s also the ability to move the caught ball towards the center of the plate as it’s being received [without, please note, making it blatant this is what you’re doing. Umpires, like anyone else, hate feeling like they’re being manipulated]. If you want more technical details, this article breaks down what you need to do, and how it varies depending on the pitch location. It’s also instructive to watch a game on TV, and focus purely on the catcher’s reception. If you compare and contrast the good and the bad, you will find yourself seeing the difference, particularly on those pitches that “should” be balls, but are actually called strikes. It’s a skill - and so can be taught to others. You have to think, signing a veteran like Mathis may not just be for the impact he has directly, but also in the hope he can give tips on the topic, to help our young catchers like Oscar Hernandez. Want to see it in action? Below, is a pitch framed by Jose Molina, the man whose 2008 season with the Yankees is the greatest for this skill on record, by one metric. This example was a bit later, from his time in Tampa, and was measured at more than 18 inches outside the strike zone - but was still called strike three by the home-plate umpire. Why does it matter? Umpires aren’t idiots (well, most of them). As mentioned, you could catch a pitch standing on your head, and it won’t affect the call in the great majority of cases. So what difference does it make? More than you’d think, because of the difference a single strike can make.[...]



Arizona Diamondbacks: December Confidence Poll

2016-12-09T12:00:01-05:00

Is confidence up or down after the winter meetings? A bit later than the start of the month, for Scotland-related reasons explained yesterday. But this was entirely deliberate, in order that this month’s poll could take the just concluded winter meetings into consideration. That’s my excuse, anyway, and I’m sticking to it! But before we get to that, here are the results of the November poll, the first to take into account the arrival of Mike Hazen - though at the time, we still did not have a replacement for Chip Hale: 10% - 1 (not confident in the slightest) 6% - 2 12% - 3 15% - 4 25% - 5 16% - 6 8% - 7 3% - 8 5% - 9 (very, very, VERY confident) What stands out here is the almost complete implosion of the "1" vote. Just three months earlier, at the beginning of August, it was rocking more than three-quarters of the vote (76.4%). Now, it’s down to below one in ten, at 9.6% to be precise. This marks the first time since May it has not been the most-popular choice, and it at its lowest since Opening Day, though it’s still more than ten times what it was at that point. In both the March and April polls, there was a single and solitary person who expressed a confidence of one; I’d love to find out who that was, for if they weren’t trolling the poll, they clearly saw something was rotten in the state of Arizona, long before the rest of us. frameborder="0" height="371" width="628.5" scrolling="no" src="https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1wUKFOIlXAWZZiBk5nLTsG1zoNUorvInMLVF9hawhmfk/pubchart?oid=1840344986&format=interactive"> On the other hand, no particular consensus as to where confidence should be, with nothing getting more than a quarter of votes. This somewhat reflects the situation after the first month of the season, where "5" was also the top choice, getting 21% of votes. However, the needle is clearly moving in the opposite direction compared to then. We get a third consecutive month of growth, and the overall figure comes in at 4.63, more than half a point better than at any time since the season opened. Here’s how that number stacks up as we go into the last month of 2016. And that brings us to this month’s poll, which has seen since last time, the appointment of Torey Lovullo, and the arrival of Fernando Rodney. But we have also had the departure of Welington Castillo and perhaps also a realization that the team’s payroll is apparently more likely to be lower than last year’s. Will that mean the honeymoon is over for Hazen and company? [Yeah, I figured I should explain the photo for this story sooner or later!] As usual, vote below and explain your choice in the comments... Poll How confident are you about the Diamondbacks? 1 (not confident in the slightest) 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 (very, very, VERY confident)   153 votes | Results [...]



Surveying the Arizona Diamondbacks landscape, post GM Winter Meetings

2016-12-08T19:00:01-05:00

The meetings finished, with the Rule 5 draft this morning. Let’s look at the roster situation for Arizona. If you were paying attention, you’ll have noticed my odd presence here over the last week or so, with no articles, fewer comments, and the latter tending to appear at odd times like 4am. That’s because, I was away in Scotland (where the photo above was taken) attending what I will call a “landmark” birthday for my mother - a gentleman never reveals a lady’s age! - so was off-grid and seven hours ahead of Phoenix. Thanks to the forces of James, Makakilo, Michael and Preston for their sterling work covering the winter meeting in my absence, and keeping the hot stove burning! Even if it wasn’t quite as earth-shattering as last year, in the wake of the Zack Greinke signing, there’s been a number of changes worth discussing. When I went away, Welington Castillo and Rubby De La Rosa were still Diamondbacks, while Jeff Mathis and Fernando Rodney weren’t. So I missed quite a bit of excitement, of one kind or another. Since we’ve already covered in detail the only thing of significance to happen today at the meetings [that Rule 5 draft], I figured I might as well talk more generally about where the team sits and what they still need to do. I know Michael wrote something up earlier today, but I’ve carefully not looked at that. If there’s any repetition, it’s because we independently came to the same conclusion. 2016 Opening Day Roster and payroll To be clear, we’re almost certainly not done yet. But if the season started tomorrow, here’s my best guess at the likely roster for the Diamondbacks. Starting line-up C. Chris Herrmann 1B. Paul Goldschmidt 2B. Brandon Drury SS. Chris Owings 3B. Jake Lamb LF. David Peralta CF. A.J. Pollock RF. Yasmany Tomas Bench Ketel Marte Jeff Mathis Jeremy Hazelbaker Phil Gosselin Nick Ahmed Starting rotation Zack Greinke Robbie Ray Taijuan Walker Shelby Miller Patrick Corbin Bullpen Fernando Rodney Jake Barrett Tyler Jones Randall Delgado Andrew Chafin Enrique Burgos Zack Godley The departures of Castillo and De La Rosa freed up about $9 million. Signing Mathis and Rodney cost $2 million and $2.75 million respectively; the latter can add up to another $2.25 million in incentives. Updating our previous work, that has the D-backs sitting at about $83 million, not including those incentives or the $10m of Greinke’s salary which has been deferred. This would seem to leave the team with a bit more cash to spend - though the precise amount, is almost as much a question of accounting as anything. Questions to be answered Catching. It’s fair to say that the replacement of Castillo by Mathis marks a sea change in the attitude of the Diamondbacks’ front-office, which now values defense far higher. For here are the offensive numbers of those two over the past two seasons:Castillo: .252/.310/.437 = .747 OPS, 96 OPS+Mathis: .205/.244/.315 = .559 OPS, 53 OPS+We’ll talk more about pitch-framing tomorrow, and its apparent new importance to the Diamondbacks. What isn’t clear is how playing time will be split up: Torey Lovullo said, “There's no clear-cut No. 1 guy,” but also with regard to Mathis, he is “a guy that's going to probably catch 60 games and we'll fill in from there.” By a process of subtraction, that makes Herrmann the “everyday” guy - unless, of course, there are further arrivals to come. Middle-infield. This could go any number of ways: while the personnel on the roster are probably relatively settled (I don’t see us acquiring any more, at least), their roles are to be determined. It could be Ahmed or Marte who is the everyday shortstop, rather than Owings. According to Lovullo, “It's going to be a competition, and nothing is going to be given to anyone.” We may end up moving Ahmed; I think Gosselin’s positional flexibility gives him an advantage off the bench, and Marte likely isn[...]



2016 Winter Meetings Wrap-Up: What we learned

2016-12-08T14:00:01-05:00

Looking at some of the moves made at the Winter Meetings and how the lessons learned from them could impact the Diamondbacks’ decision making process moving into the 2017 season. The Diamondbacks had a pretty uneventful Winter Meetings, which in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. It appears the team is taking a wait and see approach and figuring out what to do next. The biggest move so far is signing free agent reliever Fernando Rodney to a 1-year deal with a minimum value of $2.75M and a maximum value of $5M. The market for Yasmany Tomás has not developed yet: Unfortunately for the Diamondbacks, the big FA sluggers did not sign yet and are in no hurry to do so. Edwin Encarnacion, Mark Trumbo, Mike Napoli, Jose Bautista, and Chris Carter are still free agents and have plenty of potential suitors. Carter is probably the closest comp to Tomás, so what he signs for could be a key indicator on how much teams will pay. It’s looking more likely that Tomás will be on the team come Opening Day and he’s going to have to build value over the course of the first half of the season. For what it’s worth, Tomás has 30 HR/65 XBH ability but negative fielding and baserunning cripple whatever value his bat gives. Moving him to a full time DH role would only improve his value by 5 runs or roughly half a win. Baltimore seems to be the ideal suitor for a potential trade with its small ballpark (122 Park Factor for HR, 115 overall in 2016) and the possibility of losing Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez in free agency. “Proven” closers and other relievers are expensive, Dbacks priced out of relief market?: Four of the top five closers were available this offseason. Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen, and Mark Melancon were free agents while the Royals were shopping Wade Davis. Chapman signed for 5/$86M with full no trade for 3 years and opt out after 2019, Jansen unsigned but reports of $80M+ offers over 5 years, and Melancon signing for 4/$62M with an opt out after 2018. Jansen is reportedly signing tomorrow, choosing between the Marlins and the Dodgers, most likely the Marlins, who lost their best player in a boating accident. The next next tier of free agents could cost north of $8M, which is probably more than the team can afford. As Shoewizard pointed out all week, the team will likely be scraping the bottom of the barrel to add veteran relievers to the back-end of the bullpen. Jake Barrett and Enrique Burgos could not lock down the closer job last year, which is why the team spent $2.75M (incentives push the deal to a max of $5M) to sign soon to be 40-year-old reliever Fernando Rodney. The team could add another veteran to the back-end, but it looks like a Brad Ziegler or Daniel Hudson return is unlikely. The team will have to look internally for their closer of the future. Jake Barrett and Jimmie Sherfy are the two guys to watch for. Sale and Eaton deals should give Hazen a reason to at least shop Goldschmidt and Pollock’s value: When I say shop, I don’t necessarily mean trade unless you’re getting a can’t refuse offer. There’s nothing wrong in trying to do your due diligence out how much other teams value your best players. Paul Goldschmidt should fetch a similar return to what the White Sox got for Chris Sale, maybe a little bit more since he’s a position player. The White Sox got the top prospect in baseball in Yoan Moncada, a big time pitching prospect in Michael Kopech, as well as a couple B level prospects in Victor Diaz and Luis Alexander Basabe. You have to at least think about it. Now, I don’t think it will happen either. In the case of Pollock, the Diamondbacks are in no good position to deal him unless they’re tanking 2017. With a wait and see approach, that’s not likely. Pollock would not get as much as Eaton, but when healthy is a superior player with only 2 years of control as opposed to Eaton’s 5. Pollock is a guy w[...]



Who is Tyler Jones and what does he bring to the Diamondbacks bullpen?

2016-12-08T13:00:05-05:00

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A look at the Diamondbacks top Rule 5 selection. Jones put up solid numbers in AA Trenton last season, but batted ball results plus age relative to level ask questions of overall viability long term.

The Diamondbacks opted to spend their Rule 5 Draft pick for relief help as they selected the 27-year-old Tyler Jones from the New York Yankee’s minor league system. He’s got good size for a reliever, listed at 6’4” 240 by the Trenton Thunder’s roster. Jones is coming off a strong AA campaign where he went 6-2 with a 2.17 ERA (1.50 FIP), 1.23 WHIP, and a 67/11 K/BB in 45 23 innings for the Trenton Thunder. His overall numbers in AA are a 2.61 ERA (1.88 FIP), a 116/29 K/BB in 89 23 innings the last two seasons. Jones was in line for a promotion to AAA after a dominant season in AA before the Diamondbacks picked him up in the Rule 5.

Jones pitched at LSU, eventually getting drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 11th round of the 2011 draft. After beginning his career as a starter, Jones moved to the bullpen in 2013 and made it as high as the Florida State League before getting released by the Twins in 2014 due to a high walk rate. Jones quickly signed with the Atlanta Braves and pitched for their A and AA affiliates, posting solid numbers. After a 1 year minor league stint in the Braves organization, Jones signed with the Yankees and was one of the best relievers on the Trenton Thunder team that went 87-55 and lost the Eastern League championship to Akron. The last three years Jones has improved his walk rate from 10.2% in 2014 to 5.6% and improving his strikeout rate from 23.6% to 34.2%. In terms of batted balls, Jones profiles close to neutral with GO/AO ratios between 1.00 and 1.20 for most of his minor league career, although there are some outliers there over small sample sizes.

Stuff wise, Jones boasts a mid 90s fastball and a solid slider. Naturally, his repertoire that’s more successful against right-handed hitters, as they hit .240 vs. lefties hitting .260 against him. While not as dominant at the AA level as relief prospect Jimmie Sherfy (Sherfy struck out 42.5% of AA hitters he faced, Jones 34.2% both having similar walk rates at 6.9% and 5.6% respectively), he should compete with him for a bullpen spot. Even with the excellent difference between strikeout and walk rates, Jones does not put up a strong WHIP, being a career 1.30 at the AA level. Most of that is due to giving up roughly 8.8 hits per 9 IP. While Jones can miss a decent amount of bats, batters that have made contact against him have reached base, with BABIPs of .350 and .379 the last two seasons at the AA level. I’m not sure if it’s poor luck or skill because high BABIPs are consistent with his career to date.

The Diamondbacks are getting a reliever with MLB upside in the Rule 5 Draft, with solid control and good enough stuff to compete at the MLB level. The high K/BB ratio at the AA level gives Jones a decent enough floor to work with, but the batted ball results question his overall ceiling and his ability to limit hard contact at the MLB level. There are also concerns about his overall sustainability since Jones was a year and a half older than the average age in the Eastern League to start the season. For a pitcher with a strong strikeout vs. walk numbers in the upper minors, Jones is a good gamble for a team that could use a few in the bullpen. I don’t think his upside matches Sherfy or Barrett, but I won’t rule him out making the 2017 bullpen either.