So, the Diamondbacks made some trades yesterday and acquired some pieces in return. I don’t want to get too in-depth on the trades themselves, but I’d like to review what the team received in return for outfielder Gerardo Parra and third baseman Martin Prado. It should noted that the team saved $1.6M this year in dealing Parra, plus whatever they would have paid him next year in arbitration and opened up an every day spot for David Peralta. By trading Prado, they’ve saved roughly $16M over the next two years, plus have freed up third base in the infield. We’ll see what they do with that money, but for now, let’s take a look at the guys coming into the D-backs’ farm system.
Mitch Haniger, OF (12/23/90)
Haniger is a right-handed thrower and batter who logs some innings in centerfield at the moment but projects as a corner outfielder at the major league level. He should have plenty of range for right field and presently has the arm for the position. A supplemental first round draft pick from the 2012 draft, his value will be built on his ability to hit. Haniger possesses above average power but hasn’t hit a lot of homers since turning pro. One would think that it’s something that he may grow into. The approach at the plate is a strong area for him as he’s never struck out at a concerning level and has taken his share of walks, suggesting that he knows what he’s looking for in the batter’s box.
His ability to barrel up baseballs is the area of concern. The hit tool is thought to be average at best, suggesting that he’ll never be a high average guy. Currently hitting .255 in AA as a 23-year old, there’s perhaps some validity in the concern. But, a guy who can hit .265 with 12-18 homers while playing decent defense in right field isn’t terrible, it’s just not terribly exciting. On the whole, Haniger projects as a passable major leaguer but not of the high-impact variety. He could be in the bigs as soon as 2016.
Anthony Banda, RHP (8/10/93)
Also included in the Parra trade to the Brewers, Banda looks like nothing more than a throw-in. But after first glance, there’s a glimmer of hope. At just 20-years old, he has a projectable frame (6’3″, 175-pounds) and there’s no reason to think he can’t add some velocity as he matures. Currently, he sits 89-92 with his heat and has a curve and changeup, although there are no real reports on the usefulness of his arsenal as he’s never made any Brewers prospect list. This is the kind of guy the Diamondbacks should be looking for, however, as he’s essentially a lottery ticket with a little bit of upside. Like a lot of young pitchers, he struggles to command the zone at times but shows an ability to strike hitters out and has been reasonably hard to hit in Single-A ball. The projections wouldn’t suggest that you should hold your breath on Banda, but he’s not someone you should write off yet either.
Peter O’Brien, C, (7/15/90)
The Prado trade was a salary dump, and taking O’Brien back in return for Arizona’s starting third baseman shows that clearly. Like Banda above, O’Brien is nowhere to be found on any Yankees prospect list, and although New York is deep at catcher in the minors, they didn’t part with anything special. Essentially, O’Brien is an all-or-nothing player behind the plate, as he strikes out a ton and walks rarely while hitting for a lot of power. At best, he profiles as a backup, but there’s something to be said for a backup catcher who can put the ball over the fence. If his walk rate could ever improve, he may just become a notable prospect, but that doesn’t appear to be the case as minor league track record shows that he’s not in the box to take pitches. He’ll never hit for average from the looks of things, but that’s fine as a backup. Considering the depth the Diamondbacks have at the position, this is interesting as his ceiling is certainly higher than that of Tuffy Gosewich and Blake Lalli, who essentially have reached their peak and we already know what that looks like. O’Brien could see the major as soon as late 2015 depending on his development and what the team does at the catcher position this winter. His defensive prowess is essentially unknown as of right now.
Overall, this haul might appear underwhelming, but consider what the Diamondbacks gave up: an outfielder with above average defense but little offensive ability who should be platooned and a utility guy who is getting older, doesn’t hit the ball hard and was owed $16M over the next two years. Those assets aren’t going to net you top prospects, and overall, I’d say they got a reasonable return based on the financial and roster flexibility they were able to create in these deals.
The most encouraging sign, though, is that the team seems to have shifted its priorities for contention. By flipping Parra and, in particular, Prado, they’ve signaled that they need to build for the future, although in Haniger and O’Brien, that’s not necessarily the distant future. Instead, they look to be adding pieces that can pay off in the next two years. That’s kind of where I see them contending anyways, so while this deadline wasn’t the most exciting for those looking for major turnover, it’s a welcomed sign when compared to the alternative.
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