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Arizona Diamondbacks in search of a lefty reliever?

As trade deadline approaches, could one of these players be a Mike Hazen Target?

MLB: Arizona Diamondbacks at Pittsburgh Pirates Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen was on Arizona Sports 98.7 Doug and Wolf yesterday morning talking about the Diamondbacks. During that interview he emphasized that pitching is likely to be a priority.

“We’re going to have to take a hard look at our team to try to figure out exactly where we need to improve,” Hazen told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday. “Throughout the course of the season, our position player group is a little bit of a mess due to injury. That’s starting to come back together, I think. You’re starting to see some semblance of that group and the rotations that you’ll see going forward. I think it’s in a pretty good place.

“I just think going down in the second half, the pitching is probably more an area where we’re going to take a hard look at.”

Listening to the full clip it seems pretty clear and unambiguous. They will target pitching. It’s very possible that they could target a starting pitcher, especially with Shelby Miller’s struggles and now going back on the disabled list. However it’s a lot harder to pull off a trade for a good starting pitcher that would be clear upgrade to the options remaining on the team. So if they do trade for a starter, my guess is it will be a pretty big deal, getting a good starter with multiple years of control. But this post isn’t about starting pitching. I believe that no matter what happens with the rotation, the team will look to add a left handed reliever.

T.J. McFarland , who has been having a remarkable season, just went on the DL with a neck injury. Andrew Chafin has had an up and down year in high leverage situations, but seems to have stabilized over the last month or so. (I know, written before today’s game)

Jorge De La Rosa however has struggled almost from the beginning of the 2018 season. Currently with a 4.83 ERA, he may have been fortunate for it to be that low, as his FIP is 5.82. His Inherited Runners scored, a strength last year, has regressed and then some , allowing 8 of 21 , 38% IRS. He almost certainly needs to be replaced, and the team needs an upgrade in his role.

Meanwhile, the team does not have any left handed depth in the minor leagues to call upon. AAA Reno lefty Jared Miller has 44 walks in 35 IP, and is simply not an option and there is nobody in AA standing out that would indicate a promotion to MLB. ( Colin Poche with his 83 K’s in 45 IP would have been an exciting guy to promote, but he’s gone to Tampa now as the PTBNL in the Souza Trade)

So the DBacks will have to trade for a lefty to replace JDLR. The lists below of potential trade targets were created after crowd sourcing with the AZSnakepit writing staff

This first list is “Pure Rentals” who will be free agents at the end of this season.

Rental LH Relievers

Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Aaron Loup TOR 2019 31.1 3.32 4.60 92 0.9 10.3 3.2 3.3 10.9 .380 .815 66%
Jake Diekman TEX 2019 32.1 3.32 3.34 138 0.6 11.1 5.3 2.1 7.8 .325 .671 60%
Jerry Blevins NYM 2019 22.1 4.97 4.43 88 1.2 8.1 5.2 1.5 8.1 .274 .736 57%
Zach Britton BAL 2019 12.2 4.32 4.26 98 0.7 7.8 5.0 1.6 7.1 .281 .687 59%
Zach Duke MIN 2019 33 2.56 2.73 154 0.0 9.6 3.3 2.9 10.1 .363 .657 61%

NOTE: PLAYER LINKS FROM THIS ARTICLE TAKE YOU TO BB-REF PLAYER PAGE. I SUGGEST CLICKING THROUGH TO SEE THEIR CONTRACT STATUS AND CAREER NUMBERS. ALSO BE SURE WHEN YOU GET TO THE PLAYER PAGE TO CLICK ON THEIR SPLITS DROPDOWN AND CHECK THOSE OUT TOO . THESE ARE LEFTIES AFTER ALL :)

Zach Britton is the headliner here. Discussing this off line with Sean, here was his comment:

The reliever I want is Britton. We can buy extremely low on him (due to injury the past two seasons) but he has elite stuff and a Ziegler-esque GB%. His velo has been down the past two years but has been trending up over the last several games (was sitting low-94 early season and now peaking at 96.00 two games ago). And with a salary of $12 million,(5M remaining) he won’t get a huge prospect haul. He has the potential to be an amazing use-in-high leverage pitcher that would be a HUGE add-on to the bullpen while allowing Hirano/Bradley/Boxberger to remain in the roles that they have.

Jake Diekman has been a fairly solid reliever in his career, and laboring in the AL the last 4 years may give him and advantage facing NL hitters. Still owed about 1.2M for 2018

Either one of Aaron Loup or Zach Duke could be an upgrade over JDLR, but don’t have a lot of upside. You wouldn’t want to give up much for either of these guys. Jerry Blevins is on the list on the strength of previous good seasons, but 2018 not so much.

LHRP with 1.4 -2.4 yrs of Control

Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Luis Avilan CHW 2020 26.2 2.98 4.05 101 0.7 10.1 3.4 3.0 9.1 .352 .735 61%
Xavier Cedeno CHW 2020 12 2.13 0.75 554 0.0 11.3 4.5 2.5 3.8 .217 .461 63%
Jose Alvarez LAA 2021 38.1 2.97 2.82 144 0.5 8.7 3.1 2.9 7.8 .287 .639 66%
Robbie Erlin SDP 2021 51.1 3.54 4.03 99 1.2 7.7 1.1 7.3 8.6 .298 .712 68%

Pretty interesting list, this second one is. Each one of these 4 would be an upgrade over JDLR in the immediate short term, and each give you an extra 1 or 2 years of control beyond 2018. The cost here would of course be higher than any of the guys on the rental list, but I don’t see anyone as untouchable here. It’s not hard to see Mike Hazen focusing on this group.

Luis Avilan looks like the same guy he was for the Dodgers, if you look at his peripherals and FIP and not ERA. However his velocity is down about 2 MPH from 92.7 to 90.9

Xavier Cedeno has battled elbow issues the last couple years (No TJ though) but is back and throwing high 80’s cutters and high 70’s curveballs with success. Not sure a guy with stuff like this would be a target, but when healthy has usually gotten good results.

Jose Alvarez is a guy I like, and if the Angels are in sell mode, which they should be, he might become available. His usage pattern is interesting as he uses a 4 Seam, sinker, slider and change pretty evenly, and Velocity is up a tick

Robbie Erlin is another possibility, but being on a division rival makes trades tougher.

LHRP with 3.4-4.4 yrs of Control

Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Name Tm FA IP FIP ERA ERA+ HR9 SO9 BB9 SO/W H9 BAbip OPS Str %
Adam Conley MIA 2022 23.2 3.47 3.04 124 1.1 11.0 3.4 3.2 4.6 .176 .541 65%
Alex Claudio TEX 2022 41.2 2.99 4.32 107 0.2 5.0 1.5 3.3 12.7 .387 .825 68%
Brian Flynn KCR 2022 43.2 4.14 3.71 114 0.4 5.0 3.9 1.3 10.5 .338 .808 59%
Richard Bleier BAL 2023 32.2 2.67 1.93 213 0.0 4.1 1.1 3.8 9.9 .319 .673 67%
Taylor Rogers MIN 2023 37.2 2.79 4.06 103 0.7 9.1 1.9 4.8 8.8 .340 .698 68%

James likes Adam Conley and it’s not that hard to see why. Converted from starter to reliever, his Avg FB Velocity is up 5 MPH from 90-95. He could always dial it up to 96, but couldn’t maintain as a starter. Now as a reliever he doesn’t need to worry about that. A guy like this could be an “Andrew Miller Type”...and wouldn’t be cheap, but definitely worth Mike Hazen’s time to put in a call.

Alex Claudio has been an effective soft tossing lefty in the past, but this year his hit rate has exploded to 12.7 per 9. Probably not a target.

Brian Flynn, Richard Bleier, and Taylor Rogers all have pretty good peripherals.

If going after a guy on this list, I agree with James, Conley would be the get. After that, I like Rogers. His Brooks Baseball Player Card provides a nice scouting report.

So that’s it. I hope you clicked through the links to the player pages and info provided. Let us know who you are interested in and if there are any names you think we left off.