The pages and comment sections of AZSnakepit have been filled with lively, informed debate about the potential future of the Diamondbacks. Much of that discussion has been framed by James Attwood’s excellent series Of Prospects and Rosters. As we head to the trade deadline, which is 2 days away as of this writing much of the debate has specifically centered around who should or shouldn’t be moved , and who should take their place and why.
My thoughts are already well known on the subject, but I wanted to clean them up a bit, and take a closer look at what I’ve been proposing would actually look like. I titled this article in the context of an alternate reality, because I fully understand that what follows is not what’s likely to happen. The front office , via interviews with Mike Hazen and Amiel Sawdaye has spent much of the last month lowering our expectations for what deals may actually get done due to the difficulty in pulling off the trades. (See links in highlighted names for MLB articles) But it’s not only that. Philosophically they simply don’t agree with the approach outlined below. However I wanted to look at this piece by piece, and make my case. And of course provide a chart or two with what I thought turned out to be some pretty interesting numbers.
NOTE: This is about the position players. Pitching is handled separately
Part 1: CLEARING SPACE
Below chart lists guys in somewhat of an order. Some of what follows in this section is a rehash of what James said the other day, but needs to be here to make sense of part 2 of this article.
Eduardo Escobar: MUST be traded. If they need to lower their expected return, then so be it. I love Eduardo, will miss him , but it would be irresponsible not to move him for the best possible return.
Josh Reddick: likely has zero trade value or appeal to any team. He should be DFA’d to make space. Period.
Asdrubal Cabrera: would likely have had some more trade interest if fully healthy. Teams will be leery of those hamstrings however. If he is released, he will likely get picked up by a contending team with nothing to lose for the minimum. While it may seem cold hearted to release a popular clubhouse leader and veteran like this, they’d actually be doing him a favor.
Kole Calhoun: This is a tough one. Living in the real world, it seems almost impossible that the team would release him. But it’s unlikely another team would trade for him due to cost, unless the D-backs agreed to pick up the option buyout in the event that his new team did not pick up his option. Local guy, clubhouse and fan favorite, it’s hard to see this happening. But he’s on the list.
David Peralta: Unfortunately he’s torpedoed his trade value with the total collapse of his power. He would be far more tradable if he were hitting .220 with 10 homers instead .252 with 4 homers, and nary a long ball since May 15th. Since that date his Slug is just barely higher than his OBP for crying out loud. (.232/.313/.321) . He is probably the primary person Hazen was talking about when he was asked how recent performance impacts trade value:
That’s going to come into play. That’s the way this whole thing operates. How they’re playing now versus two months ago tends to have an impact on the return you get as well, even though it’s very recent. Teams want to acquire players who are hitting the ground running.
If the D-backs are willing to pick up half the money owed to David they could move him. But I doubt they’ll do that. So he probably stays. But he’ still on this list for the purpose of the article.
Christian Walker: Arb eligible next year, still quite cheap. Maybe some team wants a Right Handed pinch hitter, defensive replacement at first base. If they can’t trade him, and can’t bring themselves to release him, then they need to nail his tush to bench and let Pavin play every day at first
Bryan Holaday: As James has stated clearly, there is just no need for him to be on the roster. Clear the space.
PART 2: TIME TO SHINE
Ok, so once you’ve cleared the space, what next ? Below Table shows my proposed positional lineup. The PA projections are mine, based on health of course. The BA/OBP/SLUG/OPS are Fangraphs Rest of Season projections for each player.
One important feature I want to emphasize is that in this alternate reality, the starting players are given a position to go work on and hone their defensive craft over the remainder of the season. These guys should be placed in these positions for 90% of their remaining games.
The first thing to note is that I have Ketel Marte playing second base. I’m fully aware that the team is unlikely to do this. But they should. Not only does it help protect his legs for the remainder of the season, but allows the team to give Stuart Fairchild a good look in CF to see if he can be the bridge to Alek Thomas, who is still a year away, or sometime in late May 2022 at the earliest.
In this scenario the 25 year old Drew Ellis gets called up to play 3rd, and Daulton Varsho takes over every day duties in left field. He can still spell Fairchild in center, and catch a game here or there, but 75% of his time should be in LF. Josh Rojas plays his best defensive position right field, except for when he needs to backup Nick Ahmed at short. And of course Pavin Smith is at first base where he belongs as well.
Jose Hererra, just featured in a great fanpost by HeathKBar gets the surprise callup to back up Carson Kelly. He’s a switch hitting catcher that hits right hand pitching well. Read HKP’s post for more info on Hererra.
Seth Beer is a tough fit, because he bats left handed. But they need to give him some MLB PA’s , so I squeezed him in.
Josh VanMeter and Andy Young are your lefty and righty utility players. In the event that the team unwisely puts Ketel in CF for the remainder of the year, then they could be the L/R platoon at second base for the rest of the year. VanMeter can also spell Ellis at 3b from time to time.
Ben Deluzio deserves his cup of coffee. He’s been a good organizational soldier, but he’s also performed well. He’s fun to watch. Bring him up.
REST OF YEAR TOTALS
This part stunned me. You will just have to believe me, and trust my my intellectual honesty. I only added up the total AFTER I’d completed the playing time apportionment. The Triple Slash numbers came out exactly the same as the team’s year to date triple slash !!. What a coincidence. That’s all it is, but it helps demonstrate a point. In this lost season, the team has little if anything to lose in the won loss column should they take this route. And they have everything to gain in terms of player evaluation and looking forward to 2022 and beyond.
Failure to give these young players their time in MLB now will cost more losses for the team in the years to come.
Thats my story and I’m sticking to it.