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A Farewell To Arms, Including Trevor Bauer: What The D-backs Gave Up

The biggest trade to go down in these parts for quite some time saw three new arrivals for Arizona, but three players, all pitchers, were given up in exchange. Here's an analysis of the former Diamondbacks.

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Matt Albers

Albers came to the Diamondbacks, along with temporary acquisition Scott Podsednik, at the trade deadline last year, when we sent Craig Breslow to the Boston Red Sox. He appeared in 23 games for the Diamondbacks, putting up a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings of work, and over his career, has a 94 ERA+. This year was a real breakout season for Albers: his major-league ERA coming in to it was north of five, but between Boston and Arizona, he posted a figure less than half that this campaign. However, there was likely a good degree of luck involved in that, resulting from a .245 BABIP, freakishly low when compared to the .313 put up over the preceding six seasons.

Albers is a third-year arbitration pitcher, so would likely have earned about $1.7 million this year: he'll be a free agent at the end of next season. Assuming Tony Sipp takes Albers' spot in the Diamondbacks bullpen, the move should free up a little bit of cash, perhaps about $700K or so.

Bryan Shaw

Shaw made his major-league debut for Arizona in June last year, and put up a stellar rookie season in the D-backs bullpen, with a 2.54 ERA in 33 appearances, which had some discussion of his name as a possible future closer for Arizona. However, his 2012 numbers were less impressive: while Shaw actually allowed fewer hits, the walk rate increased markedly and the strikeouts dropped. His season completely derailed in July, where his ERA was 12.00 over eight appearances, before he was sent to Reno. He pitched better down the stretch, with a 2.11 ERA, but his K:BB ratio was still weak, at 12:9 for that period, and 41:24 overall for the season.

With barely over a year of service time, the Diamondbacks gave up a lot of service time: Shaw won't even be eligible for arbitration until 2015 at the earliest. At age 25, he still might have some upside too. The move likely frees up a spot which can be used for Rule 5 draft pick Starlin Peralta, though both men earn major-league minimum this year, so there are no real financial implications here.

Not Going Anywhere

It's worth pausing, before we get to the meat of the deal, to chew over who won't be going anywhere now. That's not solely Justin Upton, though it now seems the trade rumors concerning him can be put to bed - I think I can hear Ken Rosenthal weeping gently in the distance. It also means that the Diamondbacks have hitched their pitching stars to Patrick Corbin and Tyler Skaggs as the arms of the future. It always seemed likely that one of them would end up being traded: truth be told, whichever one it was, D-backs fandom would probably not have been happy, regardless of both the player involved, and the return received for them.

Trevor Bauer

Here are three sets of stats, from three Diamondbacks pitchers of similar age, for both the majors and at Triple-A Reno this year.

Majors Triple-A
Player A (age 21)
16.1 6.06 17 13 5.19 82.0 2.85 97 35
Player B (age 22)
107.0 4.54 86 25 4.00 52.1 3.44 55 15
Player C (age 20)
29.1 5.83 21 13 5.86 52.2 2.91 45 16

Looking at these, it seems that Player B did a better job of making the transition to the major-league level, though we are obviously talking a small sample-size for time at the big show.. Player A definitely seems to have some control issues, walking 4.40 batters per nine innings across the two clubs, compared to 2.26 and 3.18 for Players B and C respectively. However, his strikeout rates are also more impressive, at 10.43 per 9 IP, well ahead of the 7.96 and 7.24 put up by his team-mates. It's really hard to make a case for one of the trio having been significantly better, or worse, than the other two, based on their 2012 numbers.

In case you haven't figured it out yet: A is Bauer, B is Patrick Corbin and C is Tyler Skaggs, and it may well be that this evenness is what eventually doomed Trevor Bauer. Because when all other things are seen as equal, talent-wise, then things like personality and clubhouse chemistry can become more important, as a tie-breaker. And almost from the get-go, Bauer's attitude and apparently unflinching belief that he, and only he, knew what was best for him, had apparently rubbed both team-mates and management the wrong way. That included frontline catcher Miguel Montero:

When Miguel Montero was told that Trevor Bauer wanted to meet with him in part to tell the catcher how he liked to call a game when he pitches, Montero did a double take. "What? He's going to tell me how to do my job?" Montero said after Thursday night's loss to the Dodgers. A day later, Montero still seemed to find it difficult that a rookie having just recently been called up to the majors would make such a demand. And maybe the declaration was even harder to stomach because Bauer is 0-1 with a 9.82 ERA after two starts in Arizona's rotation.

Though that rift was supposedly patched up subsequently, it was hardly the most auspicious of starts, especially on a team where Kirk Gibson has made it pretty clear that there is no I in Diamondbacks. [Which I suppose would make it Damondbacks] Owner Ken Kendrick was typically forthright when asked about Bauer in October: "He is the employee, and in an employer/employee situation it's incumbent on the employee to make adjustments to satisfy the needs of his employer... I think we all need to grow up and mature and learn from our elders, and hopefully Trevor will recognize the need to do that."

The same story noted, with apparent prescience, "if that does not get corrected, the pitcher's potential may end up being fulfilled elsewhere." That now will be the case. What that might end up being, it's virtually impossible to tell. Almost everyone agrees that Bauer has the talent to succeed, but he is also a unique and special snowflake, and that temperament is going to need some special handling. He's certainly much harder to project than Corbin or Skaggs,and that may also have factored into the Dianondback's decision to pull the trigger on a trade, before Bauer could either reach his stellar potential, or flame out. Neither possibility would surprise me.