Coming off a Wild Card win and NLDS berth in 2017, the Arizona Diamondbacks were certainly looking to repeat their success in 2018. Today on August 1st, the team currently sits 11 games above .500 (60-49) and lead the NL West by a half game over the Rockies and Dodgers. While the team has been frustratingly inconsistent and snake-bitten on the injury front, that’s still an enviable position to be in for a postseason push. That has prompted the team to try to make a run for it with A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin free agents when the season ends and Paul Goldschmidt still in his prime.
Let’s take a look at the mid-season moves, starting from the middle of June:
- Diamondbacks send LHP Gabe Speier and RHP Elvis Luciano to the Kansas City Royals for OF Jon Jay: The Diamondbacks at the time were getting zero offensive production from the RF spot. Offseason acquisition Steven Souza Jr. was battling pectoral injuries and was already on his 2nd DL stint. AJ Pollock had been out a few works with a fractured left thumb while trying to dive for a ball in CF in a Dbacks loss to Milwaukee. The team was giving significant playing time in the OF to Jarrod Dyson, a solid 4th OF who’s known more for his basestealing and home run robberies than his bat, and Chris Owings, a converted infielder. Speier was a minor league reliever for the AA affiliate Jackson Generals and Elvis Luciano was in extended Spring Training with a likely assignment to either Missoula or Hillsboro in 2018. With Luciano 4-5 years away from reaching the majors and a very low ceiling for Speier, they traded both of them for 4 months of Jon Jay. It was a low-risk move overall on the Diamondbacks’ behalf, although Jay has put up a fairly pedestrian .241/.324/.349 slash (76 OPS+) although that’s been an upgrade over who he was replacing at the time. Grade: B (Low Risk, Low Upside Move)
- Diamondbacks send C Michael Perez and RHP Brian Shaffer to the Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Matt Andriese: After Randall Delgado returned from elbow and oblique problems with diminished stuff, the Dbacks elected to move on and acquire a similar arm from Tampa. Andriese from a talent perspective is a lateral move from the entire body of work Delgado gave to the Diamondbacks in 2013-2017, although comes with more team control than Delgado, who was scheduled for FA after the season. Andriese’s two appearances for the Diamondbacks have been disastrous (4 IP, 3 HR, 4 R), but at the same time it’s too early to call the deal a bust. Perez was near-MLB ready coming into the season and put up average numbers in the PCL as a defense-first type catcher prospect. Brian Shaffer was a high floor/low ceiling starter with solid control and command and was dominating the Midwest League this year. Grade: C (Medium Risk, Low Upside)
- Diamondbacks send OF Gabriel Maciel, OF Ernie De La Trinidad, RHP Jhoan Duran to the Minnesota Twins for 3B Eduardo Escobar: The Diamondbacks had been struggling to get production from the 3B spot with Jake Lamb struggling to barrel up baseballs. Perhaps Lamb’s troubles are due to playing the entire year with a bum shoulder, which flared up a day before the team picked up Escobar. With Lamb weighing rotator cuff surgery, this deal becomes even more important as Escobar will be the team’s primary 3B for the rest of the season. So far, he’s produced two solid games at the plate for the team as they’ll need his bat and glove at the hot corner. This could be the one move that is the difference between playoffs and no playoffs as Escobar has the biggest potential impact for any of the midseason acquisition pieces. The Diamondbacks gave up a decent haul to land him with Gabriel Maciel projecting to be a plus defender in CF and potentially elite basestealer, although his current projected ceiling is limited to being a 3rd/4th outfielder type barring an increase in power. Duran is intriguing for his toolset and solid sinker-curve combo that have people projecting his upside to be potentially a mid-rotation starter, but has a lot of bust potential. For a guy with 1, possibly 2, plus pitches, he gives up a lot more hits than he should, which suggests a strike zone command issue as the control numbers are fairly decent. Grade: B (Medium Risk, Medium Upside)
- Diamondbacks send RHP Tommy Eveld to the Miami Marlins for RHP Brad Ziegler: 7 years after initially trading for Ziegler, history repeated itself. We all know what Ziegler does, ground ball specialist from a sidearm/submarine arm angle who can pitch with traffic on the bases. His ability to conjure up double plays, almost at will, will be an asset to a bullpen that outside of Hirano, Bradley, and Boxberger have trouble pitching with inherited runners on base. Going to Miami is 24-year-old reliever Tommy Eveld, who is putting up monster numbers against younger competition in the Cal and Southern Leagues. Eveld has experience pitching in late innings and strong control numbers with a big strikeout rate at every step. Given that he was blocked by superior prospects ahead of him, they likely moved him while he had value. Grade: B (Low Risk, Low Upside)
- Diamondbacks send RHP Wei-Chieh Huang and a PTBNL to the Texas Rangers for LHP Jake Diekman: The Diamondbacks badly needed LH relief help and got it in the fire-balling Diekman. Curiously enough, Diekman has some curious home/road splits where he stinks at Globe Life Park (notorious hitter’s park) and is virtually untouchable on the road. Since his new home stadium is Chase Field, we hope those splits away from Arlington continue to hold up. Diekman allows for Lovullo to utilize Chafin in better matchups once he gets back from paternity leave as a guy who can come in with men on base and blow hitters away. Huang was an up-and-coming reliever prospect who like Eveld put up monster numbers in the Cal and Southern League. The organization had been using him as a multi-inning reliever, so I thought of him as a bridge guy in the middle innings or possibly an innings-eater. The PTBNL looms ominous though, because the last deal that included the dreaded 5-letter term had 2 of them and both were prospects of at least medium value (Sam McWilliams and Colin Poche). Let’s hope the PTBNL isn’t a guy like Geraldo Perdomo or any players from the 2018 Draft Class altogether. Grade: B with a possible downgrade C if the PTBNL is a notable prospect (Low to Medium Risk, Low Upside)
Conclusion: These moves mostly targeted rental players as a means to avoid dealing the elite prospects (Jon Duplantier, Daulton Varsho, Taylor Widener, Jazz Chisholm). While the team did have to move some prospects with solid enough value (MLB upside, lower bust potential) in Shaffer, Maciel, Huang, and Perez to get better, I feel like they didn’t torpedo the farm system too much either. Overall, the team strengthened the bullpen with rental pieces with a ground ball specialist we’re all familiar with and a flamethrowing lefty to replace Jorge De La Rosa. With Lamb potentially staring down season-ending surgery as an option to repair a severe shoulder injury, the team was able to find a solid fill-in and upgrade for the season at the hot corner while Lamb can focus on getting to 100% for Spring Training next year. Depending on how these moves play out down the stretch and/or into the postseason, the grades will change. Overall, I like where they made the upgrades in spots that needed upgrades in a big way and I think they’re as well-suited for a postseason run as they’ll ever be. Grade: B
How do you rate Mike Hazen’s moves at the deadline?
This poll is closed
The poll will be mostly be for record-keeping purposes and perhaps we’ll revisit this post when the season is over and there is a larger body of work to judge these trade acquisitions. The current poll is mostly how you see it from a value perspective.