It’s nearly two hours to go before the trade deadline, and while the D-backs haven’t pulled the trigger on a trade at this point, they are actively working the phones. We’ll continue to update this page as/if more D-backs related business happens during the day.
2:25 (JW): The trade deadline was fun, as it usually is, even though the Diamondbacks didn’t make a move. And while we were all holding our collective breath to see if something was going to go down, it’s not really a surprise that nothing transpired. In fact, that’s probably a good thing in the end. The Diamondbacks were connected to a couple of players, however. It’s not like they did nothing at all. Cole Hamels, Aroldis Chapman, other controllable starters (Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner?). They checked in on these guys at the very least, and that’s what they should have done.
As we’ve seen in the past, the Diamondbacks have been good about making contact and monitoring the market. They did this with Masahiro Tanaka. They did this with James Shields. They’ve done this with the guys mentioned above. Sure, they didn’t end up with these players, but they’ve routinely put themselves in a position to be able to judge the market and, if for some reason, the cost is lower than expected, Arizona can jump in. This is exactly what happened with Yasmany Tomas, if you don’t recall. Speculation suggested he’d be more expensive than he ultimately became and the D-backs were there to capitalize.
For a team with limited resources, be it cash or prospects, this is a sound strategy. They can’t get in the pool with the big boys all the time, but when an opening emerges, they can take advantage. For example, the Reds were listening on Chapman and it appears they wanted Braden Shipley, Brandon Drury and another top 10 prospects from Arizona. From the sounds of it, the D-backs made a counter offer that was lighter and let the Reds mull it over. Ultimately no deal was reached, but Arizona didn’t need Chapman and they gave the market a chance to come to them by giving the Reds a choice and not budging. Chapman wouldn’t necessarily be the guy I was after in the first place, but the logic was sound.
They did similarly with Hamels from the sounds of things and, again, they got involved, kept their ear to the floor, made their price known and gave themselves a chance without pushing the issue to the point that they could be taken advantage of. If the rumors are correct and this is how the team played the situation, we should be applauding them for being bold enough to get involved but not so bold that they made a major mistake or two. We have to read between the lines and do some assuming, but this appears to be a recurring strategy that’s working out well at the moment.
And I say “at the moment” for a reason. This season is lost (although a lot has been learned) and trying to make a move right now that will push them over the top next year or in 2017 is hard. That’s a tough evaluation and the time in between provides a lot of additional risk. Now, come the second half of next season or next winter (when they should have a lot of extra money to spend), their ability to wheel and deal will be tested and more heavily scrutinized because there will be an immediate expectation of competing for the NL West crown.
But as of this point in time, patience was in order. If someone wanted to take the Diamondbacks’ low offer, great. If not, cool, move on. It looks like this is how the Diamondbacks have been handling negotiations and it played out well for them today. In the future, it may be a different story. For now, though, it’s so far, so good.
1:48 (RPM): The deadline is past. As Jeff posted with that Cotillo tweet, the D-backs were active looking for fits, which is great, but didn’t stretch or go off plan, which is also great. The only thing we might definitely regret but in a very minor way: the team didn’t swap Cliff Pennington, who is owed just over $1M for the remainder of the season. He’s probably worth that, so in a perfect and perfectly efficient world, he would have been moved just to save the expense, if nothing else. I love the guy, but the extra things he brings, from #VeteranPresence to emergency catcher-ship, weren’t necessities for the balance of the year.
The main thing he brings, backup at short and at least theoretically at third and second, has been a little redundant lately (not that that’s a problem), but will get much more redundant here soon. 60-day DL or not, Phil Gosselin is in the picture, and the team may want to get Brandon Drury more than just a cup of coffee this season. Jake Lamb‘s first major league time last season wasn’t so hot, but after the amazing spring and beginning of the season he put together this year, it’s hard to say a nearly-two-month cameo couldn’t benefit Drury. So what happens? Because Nick Ahmed needs to play, Chris Owings needs desperately to play, and I think just about everyone would agree that Lamb needs to get his time in. They can do that and still mix in Drury for enough starts to make that worthwhile, but it will be very tough to do with both Penny and Aaron Hill on the roster, and playing time will be laughably short for everyone in the non-1B part of the infield if Gosselin is also active in September.
My guess is that moving Penny has been logistically difficult because it’s Hill that the team would rather move, and if Hill were gone, Pennington is still very helpful, if not exactly needed. This may end up one of the dominant storylines in the month of August, with increasingly-frequent checks on the progress of both Drury and Gosselin, and possibly speculation on Hill’s future. An outright release is not out of the question, especially if things stretch on through the end of the month and September’s roster expansion arrives. Should an injury occur on the rosters of 5-7 of the teams in contention, Hill could also be moved easily through waivers and made available in a trade.
12:15 (JW): With Cole Hamels off the board and James Shields some combination of too rich and not good enough for the Diamondbacks, the controllable starting pitching market has thinned. San Diego still has Tyson Ross and Andrew Cashner, but attention may have turned more solidly to the Indians’ Carlos Carrasco. It’s not known if the Diamondbacks are in the mix or not, but it has been pointed out that Arizona is exploring every aspect of this market.
Team to monitor on controllable starters all day today: Arizona. They may strike. Feelers out everywhere.
— Chris Cotillo (@ChrisCotillo) July 31, 2015
Carrasco makes a ton of sense for Arizona as he’s under contract through 2019 for something like $19.5 million, or roughly $6.5 million per season. Even if he’s only had two great seasons, they’ve both come in the last two years and for that price, you can afford to roll the dice. If it all worked out, the Diamondbacks could keep him through 2021 with a pair of affordable club options. And if you’re not familiar with the 28-year old Carrasco, that’s okay. Let’s take a look at where he ranks in baseball since the start of last season, when he really came on. Out of 83 pitchers with at least 250 innings pitched since 2014, Carrasco ranks:
7th in strikeouts per nine (9.64)
18th in walks per nine (1.93)
11th in groundball rate (52.1%)
28th in ERA (3.27)
6th in FIP (2.63)
82nd in starts (35)
So it goes something like this: when Carrasco is on the mound, he’s really, really good. He’s had some tough outings, but he’s flirted with no-hitters, too. His ability to stay on the field, however, could be legitimately called into question and, given that he’s both a) good and, b) cheap, the Indians will want a ton for him. They have a bevy of good, young, cheap starting pitchers and are looking to get rich off of a surplus in Carrasco.
In addition to wanting a strong package of prospects back, they may want to shed some salary. Dumping Michale Bourn on an acquiring team may be part of their prerogative. We don’t know yet, but that would seem to make sense. That might take Arizona out of the running as they couldn’t likely absorb much in the way of Bourn’s salary unless there was a way to throw Aaron Hill in going the other way. That’s a mess but a feasible one, perhaps. It would likely mean that some money exchanges hands, too, along with two or three top Diamondbacks prospects. Cleveland is in a position of leverage and can more or less call the shots. If they don’t trade Carrasco, they can look to do it over the winter instead. They don’t have to move him, but they can if someone wants to overpay. The Diamondbacks may or may not be in on Carrasco, but he fits the timeline and fits the budget. Working it all out, though, may prove too difficult.
11:59 (RPM): Old friend Gerardo Parra was moved for the second time in as many years today, traded by the Brewers to the Orioles for pitcher Zach Davies. Is Davies superior on his own to Mitch Haniger and Anthony Banda, the prospects the D-backs got a year ago? I don’t know — looks like Davies is very divisive for a less-than-blue-chip prospect, and while neither Haniger nor Banda has made The Leap this year, they haven’t flamed out, either. I guess? Remember the Big Deal that we had here, what it was to have a corner outfielder like Gerardo Parra (below average offense, stellar defense) instead of Jason Kubel (above average offense, tremendously awful defense)? Yeah… Parra IS Kubel right now. Parra’s slugging percentages had hovered around .400 in previous seasons, but is a David Peralta-esque .517 so far this year. And you had probably already heard this, but the 29.5 UZR/150 that made him a Platinum Glove candidate in 2013 turned to an almost exactly average -0.2 UZR/150 in 2014. In 2015, that defense has been a Kubel-esque -18.9 UZR/150. It’s possible that playing more in left field isn’t a great fit — his arm still grades as effective — but… sheesh. I liked that Parra was unique. This metamorphosis is also unique, but it’s turning Parra into something conventional.
11:44 (RPM): As Jeff targeted in 2013, former GM Kevin Towers didn’t do the team many favors by talking so frequently about the D-backs players he’d like to trade. There was one benefit, maybe: attracting additional suitors. Possibly. Today, Bob Nightengale tweeted that the D-backs had been outbid on Chapman, that they were just one of five teams involved, and finally that Braden Shipley was included in the bid:
These leaks are something a little different than Towers’s… forthcomingness? Maybe we generally hear what the D-backs want to tell us, but having the contents of the D-backs’ bid out there doesn’t help the team at all. On the surface, it would look like Nightengale’s source was on the Reds side of things — and hey, maybe him hashtagging #Reds twice was a way to put us off his trail? But this is the second time that Nightengale has broken something the D-backs definitely would not want us to hear, first tweeting in the offseason that the team was in on Matt Kemp and open to trading Archie Bradley to make that happen.
The publicized interest in Hamels and Chapman would probably have made teams infer Shipley was available, so this isn’t really a big deal. Just noting that Nightengale has a leak, and it seems to be in the Arizona camp — not the Dodgers side, as seemed possible before today.
11:30 (JW): A potential trade for Aroldis Chapman has divided a lot of fans. I mean, who wouldn’t like to watch him come in and light up the radar gun? For a single inning, there might be no one I’d rather watch pitch. He’s electric, and that’s putting it lightly. But, there are a couple of issues with obtaining him.
- He is under contract beyond this season, but only through 2016. The Diamondbacks look be strong contenders in 2017 and 2018. Chapman will be a very hot commodity when his deal is up and it’s hard to see the D-backs signing a closer for $12, maybe even $14 million per year.
- The bullpen is not Arizona’s biggest need. Sure, Brad Ziegler is the only guy in there who’s exceptionally good, but Andrew Chafin is good, Randall Delgado is okay, Enrique Burgos has had some growing pains but shown signs of being very good and Daniel Hudson is more than serviceable. This isn’t what’s killing the Diamondbacks. In fact, they’re 11th in baseball in xFIP and 15th in reliever WAR. If you have limited resources to make a trade, this is probably not where you should use them.
- Which leads up to what Chapman would cost to obtain. Sources have said Braden Shipley is the starting point, followed by at least two other players from the Diamondbacks’ Top 10. That’s a rich investment into a reliever who’s only under control for the rest of this season and 2016. This season is lost already, so really you’re just buying him for one season that actually matters. A one-year rental on a reliever isn’t worth your best starting pitcher prospect and more.
If the team were going to make the playoffs this year, I might feel differently about it. But buying now for 2016-only is risky. What if Paul Goldschmidt or A.J. Pollock gets hurt next year? What if the rotation doesn’t get improved this winter? There are too many other pieces that need to fall into place just to make Chapman relevant. And, if they burn Shipley and others on Chapman, can they trade for the starting pitcher they want to so badly this winter anyways? This doesn’t sound like a great idea… Luckily, it looks as if things have cooled for now.
— Steve Gilbert (@SteveGilbertMLB) July 31, 2015
Maybe this is one that gets revisited this winter, maybe not. My guess is that the Diamondbacks saw that there wasn’t much competition for Chapman (his name hasn’t been thrown around a lot) and they would come in with a low offer and just see how desperate Cincinnati got to move him. If that was the strategy, I can live with that, but I’m still not convinced that now’s the time for this move.
From the last week: In our Midseason Plan, we were looking for and expecting a quiet deadline this year. Most assets that are assets are controlled for a few seasons; the rentals or contract dumps didn’t figure to attract a whole lot of interest. Brad Ziegler is the only D-backs player who didn’t fit neatly into one category or the other, considering the team holds a valuable $5.5M option on Ziegler for the 2016 season. What with Ziegler seemingly immune to Chase Field and dominant in his own way, it looks like we figured correctly that it would take a very strong return for the D-backs to move him.
We did hope that the team would explore trades of Cliff Pennington (to the Angels, was the idea we ran with) and Oliver Perez (to the Tigers, who turned out last minute to be sellers). We also pitched Jeremy Hellickson, Aaron Hill and Randall Delgado as players for whom the front office should feel comfortable initiating conversations (like with Penny and Perez, but not Ziegler or anyone else).
Perez and Hellickson, in particular, have done a great deal in this most recent stretch of the season to make themselves more enticing to other clubs. Perez has been used in more of a matchups capacity, and has not yielded a single earned run since the 2 he gave up on June 1 of this season in a three-inning stint. Of his twenty appearances, Perez has recorded just a single out in thirteen (and no outs in one).It’s possible he’s been lucky, as he’s yielded 9 hits and 5 walks over his last 15 innings, sprinkled mid-inning over several appearances — and yet those are still strong totals (and he’s recorded 16 K in those 15 IP, too). On a reasonable contract, Perez figured to at least raise an eyebrow if shopped.
Hellickson has strung together four strong starts in July while dealing with a blister issue. We can’t ignore a mediocre run in June that saw him give up 16 ER over four starts (21 IP), but 5 ER in 24 IP in July? That’ll play. Hellickson has tinkered with his approach a bit in July, pitching off the plate more (still down and/or to his arm side) — and after more or less shelving his sinker in June (2%) it’s re-appeared in July (14%). The front office did float Hellickson’s name with other teams, it was rumored earlier this month. No takers, it seems; either there has been little interest, or the price wasn’t to other teams’ liking. Some teams that may have made sense — the Royals jumped to mind when Jason Vargas tore his UCL — have moved for sturdier options.
Several reporters have noted that while there has been pitcher movement, it’s been very top heavy with few innings-filling types moved (we see you, though, Joe Blanton). The D-backs didn’t figure to be in on a rental like Scott Kazmir or David Price, but they did leave their names at the door with the Phillies on Cole Hamels, as the great Jerry Crasnick reported late on Monday. Hamels made some sense for the team; it is his changeup that has made him dominant, possibly making him more likely to retain his value as he ages — and his resurgence this year can be traced to a revamped curveball, also something he may be able to keep. A pillar for the rotation going forward is a good idea, and there’s no reason to rule out right now as the right time to do it, even if the offseason would seem to be just as appropriate.
Ultimately, Hamels was moved for a package from the Phillies that the D-backs probably couldn’t have matched (not just in value; a legit catching prospect like Jorge Alfaro is hard to find available these days). Short on low-minors, high-ceiling prospects and also fairly light on Double-A (read: ETA late 2016) talent, Braden Shipley and Gabby Guerrero would almost certainly have been names the D-backs would have had to discuss.
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