The Diamondbacks have finally pulled the trigger on a Paul Goldschmidt trade, with the St. Louis Cardinals being in the mix from the get-go. This article will not focus on what the Diamondbacks will obviously lose on and off the field, but rather who comes back in that trade.
C Carson Kelly:
Jeff Mathis is now a Texas Ranger and Alex Avila is in the final year of his contract, so the team needed to find a long term solution at catcher. John Ryan Murphy still has 3 years left of control, but he’s a backup catcher who is more defensively oriented. The team prefers better catching defense, but Murphy and Avila are not players I would count on for offensive contributions in 2019. Avila may indeed bounceback from a dismal 2018 given his long track record of being an above-average hitter, but that’s not something to count on either given Avila’s batted ball profile and sudden increase in strikeouts.
After being previously blocked by future Hall of Famer Yadier Molina, Kelly now has the opportunity to receive regular playing time in Arizona. Kelly has had 131 plate appearances at the MLB level with sporadic playing time, so I’m not putting much stock in his career .154/.227/.188 batting line in 131 plate appearances. In the last three years, he’s put up a .278/.373/.416 slash with solid strikeout and walk numbers in a 755 PA sample size. If he comes anywhere close to those numbers, that’s a major upgrade offensively to what the position produced in 2018. Kelly only has accumulated 162 days of service time despite multiple call-ups, so the Dbacks control him for the next 6 seasons, although he’ll be arbitration eligible for 4 of them.
RHP Luke Weaver:
The Diamondbacks also had a hole in their rotation with the team’s best pitcher in 2018 just signing a 6-year deal to joining the Washington Nationals. They had just inked Merrill Kelly last night from the KBO for $5.5M guaranteed. After this trade, the rotation projects to be Zack Greinke (if he’s not traded), Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Kelly, and Luke Weaver on Opening Day 2019 with Taijuan Walker returning somewhere around the midpoint of the season. The team does have Taylor Clarke, Matt Koch, Jon Duplantier, and Taylor Widener, although each pitcher has their own issues. Duplantier and Widener need more seasoning in the minors while Clarke and Koch having lesser upside as a starting pitcher than Weaver.
Weaver projected as a middle of the rotation arm as a prospect, but hasn’t found his footing at the MLB level. After flashing in small samples in 2016 and 2017, Weaver got hit hard in his first full season in 2018. That’s not too uncommon for some pitchers once the league gets another look at him, as Ray found out in 2016. Weaver has a 4-pitch mix: 4-seamer, cutter, curveball, and change-up. The 4-seamer is his primary pitch, as he throws it close to 60% of the time with the change-up as his primary secondary pitch and also the most effective. Despite the quality change-up (once graded as a potential 60 pitch as a prospect), Weaver has weaker platoon splits against LHH although most of his career numbers come from that dismal 2018 season. He also had a bit of a problem pitching in St. Louis with a career 5.34 ERA at Busch Stadium vs. a 4.25 ERA on the road, so a change in scenery could help him out. If Weaver is able to bounceback, the team controls him for 5 seasons and only 3 arbitration eligible seasons (will likely miss the Super Two cutoff by just a few days).
INF Andy Young:
Young was drafted in the 37th round after his senior year at Indiana State, but has made himself into a solid prospect. Young has a .281/.367/.462 slash in his minor league career, but the numbers are trending upward with a solid 2018 season. After a .276/.372/.444 mark in Class A-Advanced Palm Beach in 351 PA, he looked excellent after a promotion to AA Springfield with a .319/.395/.556 slash in 152 PA. Going from 2017 to 2018, his strikeout rate dropped from 22% to 17% while not hurting his walk rate or power numbers. After a successful 2018 season, the Cardinals sent him to the Arizona Fall League, where he shined the brightest with a .316/.421/.521 slash and 9 XBH (5 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR) and a 14/17 BB/K in 89 plate appearances.
On my rankings list, Young slides in ahead of Pavin Smith for the #8 spot given that he has some success at the AA level. Over the last two seasons, he’s hit 38 home runs and 78 XBH (33 2B, 7 3B) in 973 PA, so there is some power upside along with a decent walk rate. Defensively he’s likely limited to 2B, where he’s played the bulk of his career. Given that the team doesn’t have a 2B waiting in the wings with Domingo Leyba’s prospect shine fading, that’s not necessarily a bad thing for the long term future of the team. Young likely will head for AA Jackson to start the 2019 season with a potential promotion to AAA Reno if things go well there and could appear in a Diamondbacks uniform as early as the 2020 season.
The team filled two major holes on their team after two of their free agents signed with other teams and added a prospect with solid upside in the future on the infield. The team was in the position where they had to either extend or trade Goldy with the team unlikely to contend in 2019 barring some unforeseen circumstance. On top of that, the team will receive the 78th pick of the 2019 draft, giving them 6 picks in the first day of the draft (Own 1st, 26, Corbin Comp Pick, Own 2nd, Own CBB, STL CBB) and likely 6 if A.J. Pollock signs with another team for more than $50M, which is a number the Diamondbacks should offer to Pollock to ensure they at least get the draft pick or the player. It’s the type of move that sucks for fans given that Goldy was the face of the franchise, but a move they needed to make in order because letting Goldschmidt walk for only a Top 40 pick just to play him on a non-contending team is a bigger mistake.