The trade deadline occurs tomorrow afternoon, at 1pm Arizona time, and it's still hard to tell whether the Diamondbacks will be buyers or sellers. Their position in the standings has them on the fringes of the playoff battle at the moment. They're third in the NL West, 4.5 games back of the tied Giants and Dodgers, and that is currently their best bet, as they are 6.5 behind the Braves, who currently own the second wild-card slot. Their moves so far have been little more clarifying. They traded their Opening Day starter at third-base for a prospect, which would suggest they're in sell mode. But a couple of days later, they trade prospects for...a starter at third-base.
After the jump, we'll take a look at the latest rumors and see if we can find any signal in the noise
As yet, there hasn't been word of a roster move to make room for new arrival Chris Johnson. While the team could certainly option Ryan Wheeler back down to Reno, Scott Bordow speculates that a deal could be in the works from the team's current abundance of middle-infielders. Bordow quotes Kevin Towers as saying, ""As it stands now it will be tough to get them all at-bats, but we'll see what happens the next two to three days," and suggests that we could be looking for arms in exchange, our General Manager adding ""I think you can never have enough pitching. Teams that go deep in the postseason have a lot of pitching."
However, what's less clear is which Diamondback would be heading out of Arizona. Stephen Drew has been getting most of the starts at shortstop, with Willie Bloomquist playing third - but the arrival of Johnson is likely to end the latter opportunity. Ken Rosenthal quotes major-league sources saying that management "are trying to decide whether to give the bulk of playing time at short to Drew or Willie Bloomquist." Wille has the better numbers, but are they sustainable going forward? And how much of Drew's sluggish stats since his return are due to a) ring-rust, and b) bad luck, as his 29% line-drive should convert into more than a .203 average.
As far as partners go, Jon Heyman reports that Oakland are "in the market for a shortstop," with Drew one of their two top choices, along with Yunel Escobar, though Drew "is viewed as a better possibility." Of course, the A's and D-backs have a long history of trading with each other, though from Arizona's point of view, the results of those deals could be described as mixed. The problem might be finding suitable pieces to come back in the other direction. The Athletics are in possession of the first wild-card spot in the AL (as an aside, I note how the AL East would currently miss out there!), so might not want to trade pieces that would help the D-backs now, as Towers seems to want.
While the above points toward the main focus of the team, it's also possible we could look to trade Joe Saunders. That might go against the line about "never having enough pitching," it seems almost certain that Saunders will leave the Diamondbacks at the end of this season, and you could argue that we have a credible replacement in Patrick Corbin. However, that would leave the team with a very young rotation - the 27-year old Ian Kennedy would be the grizzled veteran among them. And say what you like about Saunders, he leads the team in Quality Start %, his 71% figure ahead of Kennedy (62%), Miley (59%) and Cahill (50%).
Naturally, we'll keep our ear to the ground and see what happens over the next 24 hours or so. Will the team be buyers or sellers? And should they be that way?