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Reactions from Mike Hazen on the Paul Goldschmidt trade

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The Diamondbacks GM discusses the big trade and the players coming back

MLB: Spring Training-Media Day Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

As everyone knows by now, the Diamondbacks traded Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals today for a package of young players, including Catcher Carson Kelly, Starting Pitching Luke Weaver, and minor league utility man Andrew Young. While such a move has been in the cards (no pun intended) for some time, it still comes as a shock to realize that we will no longer see Paul Goldschmidt in a Diamondbacks uniform.

As reported by Nick Piecoro late this afternoon prior to the call,

“The Diamondbacks had discussed a contract extension with Goldschmidt, who had one year remaining on his contract before free agency, but were unable to reach an agreement.”

What type of offer may have been out there is completely unknown. Goldy has a strict policy of never discussing his contract and the Mike Hazen regime is typically very tight lipped on these matters as well. It will be interesting to see if in harsh glare of negative fan reaction in the coming days and weeks and months if anything comes out about this, or what kind of “spin” is put forth. My own personal speculation is that when Goldy changed agents to Casey Close it was a clear indication there would be no more “hometown discounts” and he would seek full market value for what is likely to be his last large contract. At the same time it is evident that ownership was not prepared to increase payroll to the levels required to retain a player of Goldy’s stature while at the same time retaining Zack Greinke and continuing to field a competitive team. In short, the two sides were likely so far apart in both dollars and direction that a deal was never close at all.

So it is against that simple backdrop and conclusion that the Diamondbacks entered the off season with the intention to seek a trade of Paul Goldschmidt , seeking to maximize the return they might get for him, instead of waiting until mid season when the return would certainly be lighter.

After extolling Paul’s qualities as a person and a ballplayer at quite some length, Hazen went on to say:

“He is everything in a baseball player you could hope to have , so certainly it’s bittersweet from that standpoint. From a decision standpoint ....there are decisions that you want to do and there are decisions that you feel like you have to do. I feel like this fell into the category of the latter certainly.”

Hazen spoke further about the process and indicated that a number of teams inquired and had discussions with the team but they felt they matched up best with St. Louis in terms of the return they were after.

It was notable to hear Hazen speak of a breakfast they had with Paul and his agent at the beginning of the off season to let them know the likely direction things were going to take. That said, they refrained from communicating about the process after that because until a trade is done it can always fall through and he didn’t feel it would be proper to jerk him around that way. (I’m paraphrasing, he didn’t say jerk him around ;)

Hazen and Lovullo met with Goldy at Torey’s house today to inform him of the deal, which I found to be interesting and reassuring. You don’t want Goldy hearing about this on twitter or even a phone call. As always Goldy was professional and respectful, while at the same time disappointed to be leaving this organization and this community.

Hazen was asked:

“What was the simplest rationale for trading him, was it about the players you got back or thinking you just couldn’t resign him ?”

MH: “I think it was more based on the return in our minds . As we look at the long term, which leads to sustainability, talent within in our organization up and down, which includes our Major League Roster but really underneath that, we worked pretty hard to build that talent infrastructure. We don’t feel like it’s where it needs to be. I think we’re still talking about a bottom ten farm system in baseball. Thats something we are working aggressively to try to improve. The amount of young talent we’ll have to sustain success, not just get there for any one year. I think that was more the driving force.”

My follow up question to that:

JS: What would you say to fans that would refer to what’s going right now as a rebuild, even though I know that the organization tends to try to avoid that terminology ?

MH: I understand that. I think it’s probably a little premature to speak directly in line like that. I feel like our major league team is still pretty talented. What it’s going to mean for the future in terms of the multiple years down the road is too hard for me to say right now. Everyone can look at our roster and see where the contractual status and control we have in large parts of our major league team. It’s just something I think we have to critically look at. We have to take opportunities at times , as challenging as they may be, to try to find ways to infuse talent into the organization . Younger talent that we can control for a little bit and grow with. So I think it’s a little premature to go all that way , but we’ll see how the season plays out and we’ll see what happens moving forward. We have obviously a lot of work ahead of us.

Ok, so make of that what you wish, however there was one other interesting exchange that also hinted at further rebuild moves to come. He was asked several times about Zack Greinke, which Mike refused to speculate on. One writer even asked if he could give odds on the chance of Greinke being traded, but Hazen laughed and said he wasn’t an odds maker. However when asked if he was done adding to the rotation, Hazen also esponded

“In it’s current form, yes. I would imagine that would be the case. “

In other words, yes, if we don’t trade Greinke rotation is done, but left hanging in the air with the words “current form” the clear possibility things could easily change. At this point I will be surprised if Greinke is not traded as well, but maybe I’m reading too many tea leaves ?

Other key takeaways:

  • The team will continue with the 3 catcher model. Kelly will share time with Avila and Murphy. However Kelly is seen as a full time catcher in the future, and the flexibility to work him into that role gradually is actually a bonus. Note: Avila is signed through 2019 season. So if all goes well, following a time share in 2019, Kelly will be the full time catcher in 2020.
  • They still have work to do in the Outfield and the Bullpen. So clearly the Joakim Soria rumors are not without some basis. The M.O. with this front office is to go with veteran relievers. But it seems incongruous in a rebuild atmosphere.

My own quick take on the trade:

Luke Weaver is going to have to be very mentally strong and have thick skin, especially when pitching at home. He will be viewed as the primary guy that Goldy was traded for, and as a back of the rotation type guy, you know he is going to have his nights where he is booed off the mound at Chase field. I don’t know if he has mid rotation upside or not. 12 months ago most people would have said yes. But he clearly needs some fixing . His FIP is considerably lower than his ERA each year and for career. So there is some hope there. But his career BABIP against, .332 indicates he’s pretty hittable perhaps. On the other hand, his career BABIP on groundballs is very high, .290, vs leage avg around .240. Hopefully a good Arizona infield will help him there. Per Hazen, his stuff was still good, but his delivery was inconsistent and obviously results not good. His Steamer projection is for a low 4’s ERA.

Andrew Young gets hit by pitch A LOT, (48 times the last two years) and that props up his minor league OBP to a great extent. But he doesn’t walk much, and it’s my belief he will need to either be able to stay healthy while still exhibiting a HBP skill, or his OBP’s will suffer when he eventually gets his shot at the majors. He has hit 38 homers the last two seasons, but is a bit old for level. Don’t expect much here, but he may be a gritty surprising player. For some reason I am thinking Ryan Roberts type gritty with some pop.

For me, this all boils down to Carson Kelly. Is his defense really as good as his reputation ? If it is, then even an 85-90 OPS+ would make him a valuable player. His AAA track record at Memphis each of the last two years gives one hope. But his three MLB stints have all been brief and he hasn’t hit at all yet in limited major league at bats. In 2019 he’ll probably get at least 200-250 PA and we’ll should have a better idea.

Remember, Goldy’s trade value was estimated at about 30M + a draft pick. If Kelly is a 2 WAR catcher for several years, then the DBacks will get that value back and then some, even if Weaver never improves. With 6 years of control of Kelly and 5 years of Weaver, the Dbacks will have a good chance to recoup much more than the 30M in performance value they gave up by trading Goldy. It won’t help them on the PR front in the short term, but both these players are under control long enough to be part of the next good DBacks team. Anything they might get out of Young would be gravy.

Poll

What’s your take on the trade ?

This poll is closed

  • 4%
    Great trade, Homerun !
    (23 votes)
  • 33%
    Good trade, but some questions
    (173 votes)
  • 25%
    Meh.....I don’t know
    (128 votes)
  • 17%
    Poor trade, too risky, underwhelming return
    (88 votes)
  • 19%
    Terrible trade, Pitchforks at Chase now !
    (100 votes)
512 votes total Vote Now