Trade Deadline Day is a day filled with anxiety – both good and bad. There is excitement that maybe your team will surprise you, and make that big move, either for today or the future, that changes the club’s outlook. Then there is anxiety that the organization will remind you that they don’t get it. The fear that they make a bad deal.
For the Diamondbacks, we know where they stand. They are not in a position of looking to improve their team, like we see Oakland doing, but instead, they are building for the future. And they are also a team that worries you in terms of making competent moves.
Rest assured, Kevin Towers didn’t make a disastrous trade before the deadline, but in trading both Parra and Prado, he didn’t find a great deal either. And in terms of overall direction, we are seeing a lousy team with a payroll north of $100 million pay the price to rid themselves of some financial commitments.
With their four trades this month (McCarthy, Thatcher, Parra, Prado), Dbacks saved about $8.2M this year, plus $11M in both ’15 & ’16.
— Nick Piecoro (@nickpiecoro) July 31, 2014
The Parra Trade
The D-backs sent Parra to the Milwuakee Brewers for minor leaguers Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda. If you are saying to yourself, who? Don’t worry, you should be. Neither prospect ranks very high on any prospect list. Beyond the Box Score writer Chris St. John produces a consensus prospect ranking for each team. His list ranks Haniger sixth best in the Brewers system entering the season. Anthony Banda? He doesn’t even make the list, which includes 36 prospects.
Why would the D-backs trade Parra to begin with?
Ryan Morrison told us earlier this week that dealing him could make sense:
It’s hard to figure out how both David Peralta and Parra can fit in an outfield with A.J. Pollock and Mark Trumbo, especially because they both hit from the left side — and if Parra’s at bats are limited at all, he should be sat against lefties. Moving Parra right now is not a deal to be done at any cost. But it seems like one that should be diligently explored.
As he said, while the rise in Peralta’s play makes trading Parra more feasible, it doesn’t mean the D-backs should do it at any cost. And based on the return, it appears they have done that.
Evaluating Parra’s drop-off in 2014 is difficult. Ryan Morrison tried to do so about one month ago, coming to the conclusion that outside of his hitting, it is difficult to say whether his 2014 statistics are a product of measurable drop-off or some statistical irregularity. We know that his offense is down from a career high in 2011, with a wRC+ of 106, to this year’s wRC+ of 81. But does that tell the whole story?
The tell-all statistic that we like to cite, fWAR, does have some flaws in that defensive metrics are still somewhat unreliable. Do you believe that Parra’s UZR dropping from 31.1 last season to -1.3 this season is a sign that he has become a terrible defender? Is it possible that he has taken a step back defensively, but not quite so drastic as the numbers indicate? We try to use three years of defensive data to correct for wild fluctions year-to-year. In the end, we know that Para is probably not as good of a defender as his 2013 numbers tell us, and maybe not as bad as this year’s total. Overall, the crazy swing in is defensive numbers helped to bring down his fWAR from a career high of 4.6 last season to -0.3 this season. Well, that and a down year at the plate, but let’s not overlook how much Parra’s exceptional defense has helped his value.
The D-backs traded Parra with his value at an all-time low, and from our analysis, outside of a drop-off in hitting, which could correct itself, it is difficult to say whether his foot speed, base running, or defense are in fact on the decline.
The Prado Trade
Just when you thought the deadline had passed, and Parra for two minor leaguers was the day, one more trade snuck through the fax machine. Martin Prado was traded to the Yankees for power-hitting prospect Peter O’Brien, as well as a player to be named later or cash.
Per Chris St. John’s consensus Yankees prospect list, O’Brien ranked 22nd in the organization. Not very impressive at all, but somewhat, considering he was unranked the season before. The 24-year-old has raw power, hitting 23 home runs in 72 games in AA-ball this season. The D-backs obviously need catching depth, and while O’Brien has played catcher, he is considered a prospect without a defined major league position. He will likely fit in as a first baseman or outfielder.
Why trade Prado? Jeff Wiser articulates:
No one Arizona is considering dealing will bring back more than Martin Prado. His versatility is an asset, but on a clogged roster such as Arizona’s, it’s effectively worthless. He’s played all but four 2014 games at third base and hasn’t seen an inning in the outfield all year. This roster isn’t utilizing his best asset very well, and when considering his lack of hard hit balls, he’s not someone that would be badly missed.
Prado is owed $22MM over the next two seasons. And Steve Gilbert reports that the Yankees are picking up the remainder of the contract. With the D-backs not paying any cash in this deal, the prospect return is lower than what is probably fair value for Prado.
Trading away Prado also clears the way for prospect Jake Lamb, who could make the club sometime next season. As Jeff Wiser recently pointed out, it is difficult to say whether Lamb’s impressive minor league numbers tell the true story, or if the eyewitness accounts bear the truth. We may now find out sooner rather than later.
Trade Deadline Day is a day of anxiety. For D-backs fans, it didn’t turn out to be a nightmare day, but the trades of Parra and Prado leave something to be desired.
An important thing to remember is that the trade deadline is only a deadline for non-waiver type trades. Teams can still make deals in August, it just means that players would have to pass through waivers first. Something that hasn’t kept teams from making big deals in the past. See the Dodgers two seasons ago.
Initiating a trade through the waiver process has its advantages, too. It allows teams to place players on waivers, say, for instance, like an Aaron Hill, and gauge serious interest – rather than relying on the old fashioned way of soliciting interest through word-of-mouth or phone calls, teams have to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak, and place a claim. Then, the D-backs would still have the option of rescinding the waiver request at no cost, engaging in trade talks, or letting the player go to rid themselves of the contract.
For Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez, the two most likely trade candidates remaining, it would be in the D-backs interest to garner a return in terms of players/prospects. None are on contracts that warrant placing them on waivers just to get their payroll off the books. So keep an eye on a possible trade come August.
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