At 36-52, the Arizona Diamondbacks are obvious sellers this upcoming trade deadline. Nothing has gone according to plan for the lowly D’backs. They were expected to be rigorous contenders this year; carried by a loaded lineup.
Well, entering Saturday, that “loaded lineup” has produced the 24th worst wRC+ in the league at 89. Injuries have played a significant role for that abysmal number, but you can’t deny underperformance from certain players is the main culprit. Aaron Hill, Gerardo Parra, and Martin Prado aren’t producing anywhere close to the level they are capable of. As a result, trade rumors have started to swirl for all three.
Two of the three (Prado and Hill) inhabit Arizona’s infield. Didi Gregorius, who’s been relegated to a bench role in wake of Chris Owings‘ emergence, is another infielder on the trade block. In fact, Gregorius has been on the “block” since the prior offseason. Nevertheless, Tony La Russa, the D’backs new Chief Baseball Officer, has some interesting decisions to make the next few weeks.
Nothing is as easy as it seems, but from my vantage point, it’s apparent what they should do.
Before I deliver my sentiment on the situation, it’s important to be cognizant the injured Chris Owings is likely a lock as the D’backs shortstop of the future. The rest, however, is uncertain.
Prado’s in the midst of a down year. His OPS has fallen from .750 in 2013 to just .675 this season. Still, his versatility and offensive potential are desirable to many teams. While a reasonable return could be acquired, it would be more wise to hang onto Prado. For one, he’s under contract for two additional years at a good price. Also, selling low on him is downright absurd.
Hill is “enjoying” a down-year, too. In 337 plate appearances, the second basemen has churned a mediocre .248/.285/.368 slash. To further emphasis his decline, Hill’s wRC+ is 47 points worse this year (77) than last (124).
He’s been an utter disappointment at this juncture, but, like Prado, is under contract through 2016 and Arizona would be selling low on him.
I’m very weary about selling low on either guy given the underwhelming options in the farm to replace them. Jake Lamb, the 23-year-old third basemen, has been tremendous early in his professional career, though, his BABIP (batting average on balls in play) has been unsustainable in multiple levels of the minor-leagues and that should cause the front office some concern.
If the return isn’t overwhelming for either Prado or Hill, then don’t pull the trigger. Pitching, rather than hitting, has been their main Achilles’ heel. But with top-prospect Archie Bradley and All-Star Patrick Corbin anticipated to be a part of the D’backs’ rotation in 2015, they should substantially improve in that aspect of their squad.
The arrival of top-of-the-line starters and an offense likely to bounce back from an underachieving 2014, Arizona should be in a good position to contend next season. So I wonder what the benefit — even in the long-run — would be by trading Prado and/or Hill. Both players give the team the best chance to win.
Gregorious, on the other hand, should be actively shopped. He has no place on this team and could draw a mid-level prospect in return.
All said, to me, it’s evident the Diamondbacks are in a good position to succeed going forward. There’s no need to rebuild yet, and La Russa shouldn’t do anything rash at the deadline.