GM Kevin Towers indicated shortly after the winter meetings began last week that the D-backs were looking to make two big moves, one involving a corner power hitter, the other an ace pitcher. Derrick Hall later noted that one would come via free agency, and one would come via trade. I’m not sure if that last comment was intended in part to lend credibility to the idea that the D-backs might land Shin Soo Choo, a threat that was designed, it seems, as leverage with the Angels as the Mark Trumbo negotiations were in progress. If that was the idea, though, I’m not sure it actually worked.
Last week, we covered the status of both moves. Jeff Wiser profiled Mark Trumbo (and Yoenis Cespedes) on Monday, and on Tuesday, he looked into the propriety of replacing one player with another player who happened to be a power hitter, concluding that a move for Trumbo might only add 10-15 HRs to the D-backs’ totals. When the Trumbo trade came through, I analyzed it as a value-for-value trade, noting that adding a left fielder wasn’t so helpful to justify the lost value. There’s also a “silver linings” section in there. Stay tuned for more on this move; we intend to look at the impact on the lineup and some of the move’s other consequences, both negative and positive — on Friday, Jeff Wiser compared Trumbo to some other players, and his findings might surprise you.
Of course, that’s just one piece of the puzzle; Jeff and I have also addressed the D-backs’ pursuit of a high end pitcher. Jeff broke down some likely free agent targets, and I’d note that from Jeff’s list, only Bartolo Colon has signed. Jeff did not include Masahiro Tanaka, and I still believe that signing Tanaka is a long shot because of the relative value of posting dollars. Jeff’s post from the previous week included several trade targets (only Brett Anderson has come off the board from that list), and I chimed in with more trade targets, some of which were really off the wall.
In short, it’s been a busy time lately, and we expect that to continue, particularly if Masahiro Tanaka is not going to be posted. Since the Rakuten Golden Eagles have two more years of control over Tanaka, they could keep him for one more season before posting him next year — and since they’d probably max out with a $20M posting fee either way, you can see where they’re coming from. It seems, though, that even though they are trying to convince Tanaka to stay, they may respect his wishes either way. If Tanaka is posted, it may take more than a month for his situation to get resolved; if it’s announced that he won’t get posted, we can expect the dominoes to start falling right away.
Despite Hall’s comment last week, the cupboard is not quite bare in terms of trade chips, so we might still see another trade. Arizona still has an extra young shortstop (particularly with Cliff Pennington on the roster), and the Trumbo acquisition made Matt Davidson completely blocked and most likely available. Still, in a trade for a pitcher, it’s likely that the other team will want a pitcher back (particularly the Chicago Cubs), and with Tyler Skaggs (and David Holmberg) gone, the team is fresh out of mid-level starting pitcher prospects. Should a pitcher get traded, it would have to be the nearly untouchable Archie Bradley, Randall Delgado, or Trevor Cahill, whose contract is looking better and better as the winter progresses.
If nothing else, the last week caused a lot of people to focus on the Diamondbacks. So here are some links:
- Nick Piecoro addressed how other people addressed the Mark Trumbo trade — “weird vacuum” is spot on. On his own behalf, Piecoro wondered if Arizona would have been better off not making the Trumbo trade, given their other options. If you only read two of these links, read both of those.
- If you only read three, pick Jason Collette’s piece at ESPN SweetSpot as your third. Collette broke down Trumbo’s climbing strikeout rate, tracing it not to swinging at pitches outside the zone, but to swinging and missing inside the zone. Not a great sign.
- If you have a Baseball Prospectus subscription and you only read four of these links, make the next one this BP breakdown of the Trumbo trade by R.J. Anderson.
- On Wednesday, Piecoro came back with notes about why both Skaggs and Adam Eaton might have been sold high. Hard to disagree with Piecoro on Skaggs — spring struggles would have severely depressed Skaggs’s value, although I still think that because Arizona is so average across the board, a lottery ticket like Skaggs should be worth at least as much to Arizona as he would be to practically any other team. I think it would have taken longer for Eaton to really lose his shine as a leadoff prospect, though.
- Also on Wednesday, Piecoro reported that others had told him that Towers has said (even in the wake of the Trumbo trade) that he’s “flush with cash.” Well, I can’t see what the advantage would be for Towers to advertise that if it weren’t true, and I guess he’d know better than anyone. Piecoro had an update on Thursday on the D-backs’ pursuit of a pitcher.
- At AZ Snake Pit, Clefo examined the Trumbo acquisition, noting that what you see with Trumbo might be whatever you’re attuned to see.
- Also at Snake Pit, Jim McLennan took a look at the three PTBNL the Diamondbacks received last week: Brandon Jacobs, A.J. Schugel, and Todd Glaesmann. In my view, none of these players changed the math on the Heath Bell and Mark Trumbo trades, although I again find it encouraging that Towers targeted a guy like Schugel, who could be a future piece of a good, young bullpen. At Bleacher Report, Chris Roling published a scouting report on Jacobs.
- At Venom Strikes, Thomas Lynch took a step back before posting his calm take on why he came to support the Trumbo deal. Noah Dougherty also struggled with whether it was a good move. Dougherty makes a point that I don’t think got enough coverage: Towers is in the last year of his current deal, as ownership did not exercise their option for 2015 and 2016. It certainly does seem as though Towers is much more concerned with 2014 than with 2015.
- I incorporated some comments from Dave Cameron and Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs in my piece on the Trumbo trade, but here’s Cameron and here’s Sullivan. Fresh out of the Seattle Mariners’ front office, Tony Blengino also posted on what Mark Trumbo is likely to be in the next few years.
- At ESPN, Keith Law looked at each end of the three-way Trumbo trade, writing that the Diamondbacks’ end left him “at a total loss” (Insider required). Kind of hurts to read it all in a nutshell like that, but I don’t disagree with a word of what Law wrote.
- Jeff Summers posted on the role that baseball played in his relationship with his recently-departed grandmother. Rest in peace, Velma Olsen.
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