The real team has a rare day off today. That means it is time for a simulated season update. Plenty has happened since last time we checked in. I could go on about the continued growth of Carson Kelly, Nick Ahmed, and Robbie Ray. I could rave about how Brandon Marsh looks like a steal. But really, there are only two storylines that anyone is going to be truly interested in at this particular point. The first is, the Diamondbacks sit on an island of sorts in the standings. They are second place in the NL West, four games behind the Dodgers. They are also first place in the Wild Card standings, nine games ahead of St. Louis and San Diego. With 50 games left in the season, the odds of Arizona playing games in October are looking good.
The second story that will be of interest is that the Diamondbacks have just passed the trade deadline. Arizona entered the final 10 days of July expecting to be quiet at the deadline. Needs were identified and addressed earlier in the season, partly to avoid deadline price increases and partly to jump start mediocre offense. Then, the Milwaukee Brewers came calling. In the simulation, the Brewers are currently the class of the National League. They hold a two game lead on the Dodgers for best record in the NL. Their team is stacked and really does not need any help. Yet, Virtual David Stearns decided to make a massive near-deadline push to make them the prohibitive favorites. He picked up the phone and made a call to Arizona. He wanted to know if the Diamondbacks would be willing to trade Madison Bumgarner. My gut reaction was that there was no way I was trading Bumgarner, not when starting pitching has been a team strength almost all season. I pulled up Arizona’s pitching to confirm my suspicions that moving Bumgarner would put a significant dent in the rotation. That’s when I noticed something I would not have bet on. On July 23rd, Bumgarner was, at best, the team’s third-best starter. An argument could be made for him being the team’s fourth, or even fifth-best starter. Robbie Ray and Zac Gallen were both clearly better pitchers. A very easy argument could be made that Luke Weaver was at least as good as Bumgarner. Additionally, Weaver’s age and contract both stand out as pluses against MadBum. The other arm in the rotation at that time was Jon Duplantier. Duplantier’s problem in the simulation is the same as it is in real life - fragility. That gives MadBum an edge, though when Duplantier is both healthy and on, he is dominant in a way that MadBum is less and less frequently.
Then I looked at how newcomer lefty, Braxton Garrett had been doing. 2020 is a small sample size, but that sample was very impressive. Though Garrett does not have Gallen’s strikeout numbers, his immediate ability to go into the rotation and make an impact the same way Gallen did a year prior was something to be considered. The thought all along was that Garrett would be replacing Ray once the season was over. The team was not going to have the money to ring Ray back. A major reason for that was MadBum and his contract.
Well, hell. What is Milwaukee offering? Surely this will be as ridiculous a trade proposal as 95% of the other proposals the simulator makes during the course of the season. For starters, how much money are the Brewers expecting Arizona to eat? After all, Bumgarner’s contract is a fat one and he isn’t exactly a spring chicken. Opening the trade proposal, the first thing that caught my eye was that the Brewers were trying to send Arizona Logan Morrison as part of the deal. I almost spit some adult beverage all over my television when I saw that. Then I saw there was a second name listed, 18-year-old shortstop, Eduardo Garcia. Really, Logan Morrison and a throw-in? I click on Garcia to get my laughs. Oh. Wait a minute. What’s this? He’s 18 and already rated at 3.5 stars out of 5 with room for growth? Hit tool 60. Home run power 50. Okay, so he’s a bit thick, what is his defensive profile and how does he run? Oh, those are Nick Ahmed-like defensive scores. Oh, and his speed and all-around base running both rate as a solid 55. Okay, so he’s not a bad prospect. In fact, it turns out he is Milwaukee’s number two prospect, behind Brice Turang, the $31 overall prospect in baseball.
What’s this? Additionally, Milwaukee will take 100% of MadBum’s salary. Suddenly, this does not feel like a ridiculous proposal at all. In fact, I had to pause the game there and spend nearly three whole days digging through all the numbers and various scenarios before I could finally tell Milwaukee no. That’s when I decided to play out another game, only to watch as Arizona’s offense, once again, failed to produce. There are lots of strong individual performers, but there is no single batter tying the entire lineup together. Even with Ketel Marte raking and Carson Kelly having a plus bat, the runs just aren’t there. This team needs offense. It has no money to make another deal though. Well, not with MadBum on the team. The team does still have Braxton Garrett waiting for another opportunity to start. Also, Corbin Martin is expected to be ready to pitch in only two more weeks.
The hard choice was made. The trade was approved. I did try to dicker about and get Milwaukee to sweeten the pot somewhat. After all. Mike Hazen was adamant we weren’t getting enough back. However, the Brewers were not willing to add more. I took the deal and inserted Braxton Garrett into the rotation.
The Diamondbacks have now had two starts by Garrett instead of Bumgarner. The result has been 13 2⁄3 innings pitched and five runs allowed. For the Brewers, MadBum has provided 14 1/3 innings and allowed six runs. That’s awful close. However, MadBum is 31 and will cost $79 million over the next four year, while Garrett is 24 and is pre-arbitration. That leaves the Snakes with some money to make another move to help bolster the offense.
Alas, attempts to bolster the offense through trade fell through. Even with some money to work with, the cost was prohibitively high in prospects or cash to make a deal work. Still, the money is now there to potentially keep Ray, or to make some other bold move once the season is out. Time for the simulated season’s stretch run.
Stay tuned for more updates when the real team has their next day off on August 13th.