As of today I think that most Diamondbacks fans, including myself, would agree that if the Shelby Miller trade is not the worst trade in Diamondbacks history, it is certainly up there. Most people would agree that you cannot judge a trade immediately, or even this close to the transaction occurring, and overall I still remain open-minded to the possibility of a positive result eventually occurring: If Shelby finds a way to turn it around and become the lights out pitcher he was purported to become when he first came up with St. Louis, then regardless of how Dansby Swanson does, a solid Ace or number two pitcher will always outweigh (in my opinion) the production of a position player.
However, today, when you take into consideration the current defensive needs in the outfield, as well as the promise that Dansby Swanson has shown in the minors for the Braves, coupled with the horrendous year Shelby has had so far, I am sure that all of our reactions will lean to the affirmative: His is one the worst trade in Diamondbacks history.
A few weeks ago a friend of mine thought it would be cool for me to judge/grade every trade in the Kevin Towers era. As someone who literally called a local sports station and dropped a #FireKT reference in my call, I was excited about the project – until I realized that Kevin Towers made more trades than anyone in freaking history (that is hyperbole, I honestly do not know how he ranks in the echelon of quick fire general managers) I backed away from that daunting task all together, and converted it into grading all of Ryan McDonough’s trades so far – a much smaller task.
As we all know, Kevin Towers had several trades that still look absolutely terrible today which made me wonder how bad some of his traded fared next to others in franchise history. Therefore, for your viewing and debating pleasure, I have compiled a list of the most controversial trades in Diamondbacks history, along with a brief summary, starting from the beginning.
I will not be grading these as I did with the Suns moves because I would prefer to hear your reaction rather than ask you to debate me, so I will simply lay them out for all to see, and let you judge for yourself.
I feel necessary to note, that like most trades, many of these trades were bad in hindsight, and I am looking at most of these from the ends of the results, rather than from the beginning.
(All trade verbiage is taken from baseball-reference.com)
1. June 12, 1999 – Traded Tony Batista and John Frascatore to the Toronto Blue Jays. Received Dan Plesac. – Plesac was a left-handed specialist who pitched very decently for Arizona. In 96 games he held a solid 3.21 ERA. However, Tony Batista was a 25-year-old power hitter who with Toronto hit 80 home runs and drove in 238 RBI’s in two and a half seasons, including 41 and 114 while batting .263 in an All-Star season in 2000.
2. July 8, 1999 – Traded a player to be named later, Vladimir Nunez and Brad Penny to the Florida Marlins. Received Matt Mantei. The Arizona Diamondbacks sent Abraham Nunez (December 13, 1999) to the Florida Marlins to complete the trade. – It is hard to call this trade the worst, but in the end it was bad. However, while Mantei’s power arm helped the Diamondbacks win the West in 1999, and he pitched fantastically for the Diamondbacks again in 2003, in 2001, injuries held him back and he made only eight early season appearances never truly helping the Diamondbacks win the World Series. Brad Penny, on the other hand, would go on to have a long career as a starting pitcher, and in 2001 went 10 and 10 with Florida and only a 3.69 ERA. Ending his career in 2014 with two All-Star appearances and a third place Cy Young finish in 2007, having Brad Penny on the roster would have helped soften the post Randy/Curt blow, and been an anchor in the Brandon Webb rotations.
3. November 28, 2003 – Traded Curt Schilling to the Boston Red Sox. Received Mike Goss (minors), Casey Fossum, Brandon Lyon and Jorge De La Rosa. – When trading away a future Hall of Famer, one would seriously hope that the team would get something in return that will lead you into the future. But did Arizona get a future top-end of the rotation starter? No. A back end closer who blew away the opposition? No. A power hitter who would anchor the clean-up spot for a few years? No. At this point in the Diamondbacks history, they were aging and needed to go to the youth movement for future financial solvency. But, knowing that Shilling would help lead Boston to two World Series wins in four years, sure does makes you wonder if the Diamondbacks had held on to him and tried to use free agency to build up quickly one last time, if he and Randy Johnson could have led the franchise to the top at least one more time.
4. December 1, 2003 – Traded Chris Capuano, Craig Counsell, Chad Moeller, Lyle Overbay, Jorge De La Rosa and Junior Spivey to the Milwaukee Brewers. Received a player to be named later, Shane Nance, and Richie Sexon. The Milwaukee Brewers sent Noochie Varner (minors) (December 15, 2003) to the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade. – Holy Schnikies what a trade, and Holy Schnikies, what a bust. Granted, in the end the Diamondbacks didn’t give up any future stars for Richie Sexson’s 23 games and 90 at bats, but still. When you take into consideration the crazy number of players it took to land him, and the fact that he sandwiched 129 Home Runs and 351 RBI’s in the three years before Arizona, and 94 Home Runs and 291 RBI’s in the three years after, one MASSIVE homerun off the Diamondbacks’ scoreboard just wasn’t enough.
5. January 11, 2005 – Traded Randy Johnson to the New York Yankees. Received Brad Halsey, Dioner Navarro, Javier Vazquez and cash. – Two years after trading Curt Schilling and a perfect game later, Randy Johnson forced his way out of Arizona and into Yankee pinstripes. Granted he was aging – he was 40 at the time – but RJ51 still had plenty left in the tank and would go on to win another 57 games, winning career number 300 with San Francisco. Granted, this trade was only the beginning of the souring of the relationship between the franchise and the greatest player in Diamondbacks history, but the fact that it even came to this, was then, and still is now, disappointing.
6. December 8, 2009 – As part of a 3-team trade, traded Max Scherzer and Daniel Schlereth to the Detroit Tigers. Received Edwin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers and Ian Kennedy from the New York Yankees. In addition, the Detroit Tigers sent Curtis Granderson to the New York Yankees; and the New York Yankees sent Phil Coke and Austin Jackson to the Detroit Tigers. – Hindsight being 20/20 is everything here. Max Scherzer was a top of the rotation prospect in the Diamondbacks farm system, but fears that his pitching motion would eventually cause serious arm troubles, caused front office brass to trade him off, leaving the rest to history. Edwin Jackson would throw a no-hitter, and Ian Kennedy would have a 20-win season, but Max Scherzer is one of the most dominant throwers in the game and still going strong seven seasons later.
7. December 9, 2011 – Traded Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill and Jarrod Parker to the Oakland Athletics. Received Craig Breslow, Trevor Cahill and cash. – This trade would be really bad if Jarrod Parker’s arm weren’t made of glass, however, the promise of Parker and the epic failure of Cahill still rank this trade as one of the worst in franchise history. No Diamondbacks fans would fault the franchise for continually rehabilitating Parker if he were still on the roster, but all Diamondbacks fans fault the franchise for giving up on a guy who was so young, for someone who would fall flat on his face and never show any of the promise that made Cahill a trade target in the first place.
8. December 24, 2013 – As part of a 3-team trade, traded Matt Albers, Trevor Bauer and Bryan Shaw to the Cleveland Indians. Received Didi Gregorius from the Cincinnati Reds and Lars Anderson and Tony Sipp from the Cleveland Indians. In addition, the Cincinnati Reds sent Drew Studds to the Cleveland Indians; and the Cleveland Indians sent Shin-Soo Choo, Jason Donald and cash to the Cincinnati Reds. – In prime Kevin Towers fashion, the Diamondbacks gave up on Trevor Bauer very early because he clashed with the "old school" approach the Diamondbacks were supposedly building. On the surface, the Diamondbacks truthfully received a fair value in return. Anderson and Sipp weren’t too bad (Sipp would end up pitching great for Houston) and Didi was supposedly the next Derek Jeter, and as of this season, is better than anyone the team has at shortstop. The major problem with this trade, is that Sipp and Didi would eventually get moved too early, and their best seasons would not happen in Arizona.
9. January 24, 2013 – Traded Chris Johnson and Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves. Received Nick Ahmed, Randall Delgado, Brandon Drury, Martin Prado and Zeke Spruill. – Everyone knew that Justin Upton was going to be traded. All fans were hoping for was a big return. With Ahmed, Delgado, and Drury still currently on the active 40 roster, and Upton now on his third team since his trade, it wasn’t all that bad. What makes this trade sucky is the haul that the Diamondbacks would have received from Seattle, had Upton agreed to have been moved there. Once fans knew of the possibility of Taijuan Walker coming to Valley (along with Danny Hultzen, James Paxton, Nick Franklin, Charlie Furbush and Stephen Pryor) there was no other return that would ever excite fans again.
10. December 10, 2013 – As part of a 3-team trade, traded Adam Eaton to the Chicago White Sox and Tyler Skaggs to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Received a player to be named later from the Chicago White Sox and a player to be named later and Mark Trumbo from the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. In addition, the Chicago White Sox sent Hector Santiago to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim sent A.J. Schugel (December 13, 2013) to the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade. The Chicago White Sox sent Brandon Jacobs (minors) (December 13, 2013) to the Arizona Diamondbacks to complete the trade.) – Two young players touted as the next great defensive center fielder for the Diamondbacks, and the next Ace for the rotation, trading Adam Eaton and Tyler Skaggs made no sense when the player to return swings and misses a lot, proving Kevin Tower’s "grind it out" mentality wholly hypocritical. While Eaton’s stolen base numbers have never panned out in the majors to what they were in the minors, and Skaggs is still trying to recover from Tommy John, Trumbo was already 28 and had not been a player who hit for average at all, totally flying in the face of what Towers claimed he was trying to build. The fact that he would be given up on way too early, once again, as this season he is leading the majors in Home Runs and Total Bases and was an All-Star, really throws salt into the wound.
11. December 5, 2014 – As part of a 3-team trade, traded Didi, Gregorius to the New York Yankees. Received Domingo Leyba (minors) and Robbie Ray from the Detroit Tigers. In addition, the New York Yankees sent Shane Greene to the Detroit Tigers – Basically the centerpiece of the Trevor Bauer trade was shipped off for an inconsistent starting pitcher. I personally like a lot of what we see from Robbie Ray, but his inconsistency, especially after the fourth inning, just ruins any hope for current trade redemption, specifically when you take into consideration the offensive production the Diamondbacks are receiving from shortstop. Plus the fact that Didi is currently batting .298 with 11 Home Runs and 41 RBI’s for the Yankees is just GREAT.
12. June 3, 2015 – Traded Vidal Nuno and Mark Trumbo to the Seattle Mariners. Received Gabriel Buerrero (minors), Jack Reinheimer (minors), Welington Castillo and Dominic Leone. – Again, giving up on Mark Trumbo so quickly, especially in light of this current All-Star season, is just painful. Not much else to say here.
13. June 20, 2015 – Traded Touki Toussaint (minors) and Branson Arroyo to the Atlanta Braves. Received Philip Gosselin. – In nothing more than an Arroyo cash dump following a horrendous signing, the Diamondbacks shocked the world by trading away their number one pick, Touki Toussaint. Granted, Touki is far from blowing anyone away in the minors (he has a minor league career 5.15 ERA and 1.44 WHIP), he is only 20 years old and his SO numbers and opponent’s BA are pretty darn good. The funny thing is, as upset as Diamondbacks fans were that the franchise gave up on their number one pick so quickly, it wouldn’t be the worst time that would happen…
14. December 9, 2015 – Traded Aaron Blair (minors), Dansby Swanson (minors) and Ender Inciarte to the Atlanta Braves. Received Gabe Speier (minors) and Shelby Miller. – You’d be a liar if at the moment this trade was announced you weren’t at least a little nervous that the Diamondbacks had just given up on a future star at shortstop. There was definitely some optimism that Miller would at least be fine and be a solid number two in the rotation behind Zach Greinke, but absolutely nothing could have prepared Diamondbacks fans for the downright awful, terrible, no good season that Miller is having. Couple that with the fact that Swanson has looked pretty darn good, by all accounts, in the Atlanta Braves minor league system, and just as of today a national writer said that if called up for either Arizona or Atlanta he would be the best shortstop on either major league roster, just seriously sinks all disappointed Diamondbacks hearts to the ground.
What do you think? What is the worst trade in Diamondbacks history? Let me know in the comments!
(While I did not want to rank the trades in order of my opinion, I have decided upon my top-5 and added them to the poll below.)