The D’Backs came into 2010 with some hopes of contention. With some quality players forming what should be a decent core, the hoped-for-return of Brandon Webb, and some decent off-season additions, Arizona fans had some reason for optimism. It has not, however, turned out in their favor: Dan Haren has struggled; Webb remains on the DL; and the bullpen has imploded. The team sits 11 1/2 games out of first place in the National League West, and at 26-38, their playoff chances are practically nil.
Buy Or Sell?
There’s no doubt which way the D’Backs should go at the deadline, and they have enough chips to make a sell-off interesting.
Adam LaRoche is the most obvious name from the roster who will likely be moved, as he’s both productive and cheap enough to be enticing to other clubs. The Diamondbacks could hold onto him and exercise their side of the mutual option for 2011, but there’s no guarantee LaRoche would pick up his part of it, and $7.5 million for a league average first baseman isn’t exactly a bargain anyway. They’re best off moving him this summer.
Another popular target should be catcher Chris Snyder. While he’s a good enough player to be part of Arizona’s future, they also have Miguel Montero as an option behind the plate, and having two good catchers is a bit redundant. Snyder’s contract isn’t so cheap as to be a huge bargain, but he’s underpaid relative to his value, and teams looking for a several year solution to their backstop problems could be interested.
On the pitching side of things, don’t be surprised if a contender with sabermetric leanings makes a run at Chad Qualls. With an 8.46 ERA, you’d think he’d been a total disaster, but his xFIP is a respectable 3.55, and he’s been one of the best relievers in the league the last few years. His .474 BABIP will regress, and he could be a quality bullpen piece for another team down the stretch. A free agent at the end of the year, you have to think that his days in Arizona are numbered whether he’s traded or not, so Arizona will likely be happy to move him. Don’t be surprised if he’s involved in a “change of scenery” trade.
On The Farm
The presence of Brandon Allen in Triple-A makes letting go of LaRoche easier. He’s probably not going to be a star, but he could fill the job at first base well enough and do so for the league minimum once the position is opened up. Most of the rest of the talent on the farm is further away, however, and the D’Backs probably won’t be able to plug their holes internally. Expect them to target close to the majors pitching help in nearly every deal they make.
The D’Backs will have some money to play with this winter, especially if they move guys with 2011 commitments this summer. They are on the hook for about $45 million in salary for next year and have some arbitration cases with players like Stephen Drew, Miguel Montero, and Kelly Johnson that should push that number to closer to $60 million. But if they move Snyder and non-tender Conor Jackson, they’d be able to spend somewhere between $15 and $20 million while maintaining the 2010 budget number. Whether ownership will agree to spend that much again following a season where the team was a large disappointment remains to be seen.
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