Analyzing the Thatcher and Campana for prospects deal

One last chance to use this picture... - Christian Petersen

And they're off! The first big deal of the 2014 season for the D-backs, saw left-handed reliever Joe Thatcher and speedy outfielder Tony Campana traded to the Angels for two prospects. Let's look at what we lost, and what we gained.

What the Diamondbacks gave up

Joe Thatcher

Thatcher was part of the trade-deadline deal with the Padres for Ian Kennedy last year, coming over with then prospect, now bullpen member, Matt Stites. After a wobbly start in Arizona, posting a 6.75 ERA the rest of 2013, Thatcher has settled down admirably this year, allowing seven earned runs in 24 innings, a 2.63 ERA, with a shining K:BB ratio of 25:3. He held all batters to a .670 OPS, without much of a split between the results against LHB and RHB (OPS of .657 and .685 respectively, a very solid performance during the 37 games in which he appeared.

However, this is Thatcher's third year of arbitration eligibility, making him a free-agent at the end of the season. With the team currently possessing the worst record in baseball, there was no point in hanging onto him, and getting nothing when he walks. With the arguably superior Oliver Perez already under contract for 2015, and Matt Reynolds hopefully returning from Tommy John surgery by next Opening Day too, the odds of the team having any interest in re-signing Thatcher were slim.

Tony Campana

Campana arrived from the Cubs in a February 2013 trade for a couple of prospects who are still only teenagers, so we won't have any idea whether this was a good deal or not for about five more years. Tony appeared in 55 games over two seasons with the Diamondbacks, and was pretty much as advertised: fast on the basepaths (12 SB in 15 attempts), but crap at getting on them, with a .261 on-base percentage in 115 PAs. Both bWAR and fWAR had him slightly below replacement level in his time here, at -0.1 and -0.4 wins respectively.

What I'll remember most about Campana is his speed. Next most is the utter fit he threw at a game down in Tucson last year. I wish there was video somewhere. Anyhoo...The rise of both David Peralta and, in particular, Ender Inciarte, probably rendered Campana superfluous to requirements, Inciarte proving himself capable of manning a decent center-field in the absence of A.J. Pollock and, after a rough start, better at getting on base than Campana, with a .327 OBP since taking over the lead-off spot in mid-June. Depending on where you rate Roger Kieschnick, Campana was 7th or 8th on our outfield depth-chart, and at 28, doesn't have much more upside.

What the Diamondbacks received

Zach Borenstein

Lose one outfielder, get another. Borenstein is, however, a lot younger and rawer, turning 24 later this month and not having played above High-A until this season. After murdering the ball there in 2013, with a line of .337/.403/.631 that earned him honors as the Angels' Minor League Player of the Year, he seems to have struggled with the aggressive promotions, posting an OPS of only .718 in 78 games between Double-A and Triple-A. He was promoted to the latter in late May, and has since hit .256/.279/.342, a mere .612 OPS. No word yet on where the Diamondbacks will slot him.

John Sickels says, "His best physical tools are strength and power. His running speed and arm strength are nothing special. He's an adequate defender at either corner but his value lies in his bat. California League breakouts are often a mirage and skeptics question his swing, but he did hit well in the Midwest League in '12 and his Arkansas numbers in '14 are better than they look on the surface, above-average in context and quite in line with what he did at Cedar Rapids. The main blemish on his resume is the weak month at Salt Lake. He is not going to hit .337 at higher levels, but if he can refine his approach against advanced pitching, his power could have value."

Joey Krehbiel

At least Krehbiel didn't have far to travel, being assigned to Visalia - who are currently playing a series against his previous team, the Inland Empire 66ers, which led to this:

Drafted as a third-baseman out of his school, the 21-year-old Krehbiel converted to a pitcher almost immediately, and has decent numbers in the past couple of seasons, after understandable issues while learning his craft in 2011-12. He had a 2.74 ERA in 65.2 innings at A-ball last year, and an even 2.00 ERA between there and High-A, where he was promoted a couple of week ago. Sickels reports, "He works with a 90-95 MPH fastball and has made progress improving his slider. His arm angle is tough on right-handed hitters and he profiles as a middle reliever at higher levels."

Conclusion

Yeah, it's not really anything to get particularly excited about, in terms of moving the needle. But the departure of Thatcher seems the clearest acknowledgement to date that, no matter what Miguel Montero may say, management is now viewing this season as a lost cause. What we got back is nothing special, but I generally agree with Sickels, who concluded, "They have more potential future value than fungible veterans Thatcher and Campana." For a team now 17 games below .500 and sinking, it's the future we should be looking toward, and I think that may well be a theme of other deals in the coming month.

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