11 September 2012
On July 25, the Diamondbacks had a record of 49-49, and were six games behind the Giants in the NL West and five games behind the Braves for the second wild card spot. Over the next few weeks, the Diamondbacks made five trades. While the organization insisted that the trades did not signify that the team had given up on the season, the trades definitely saved the team some money, and also opened up some roster spots for younger players. Since then, the Diamondbacks have gone 20-23, and slipped to ten games behind the Giants and six out of the wild card. Let's take a look back at the five trades made by the Diamondbacks this summer.
1) Traded 3B Ryan Roberts to the Rays for 2B Tyler Bortnick (July 25, 2012)
Roberts had been the team's Opening Day starter at 3B, but had hit just .250/.306/.357 (.663 OPS) over 280 Plate Appearances. Since the trade, Roberts has hit about the same with the Rays, going .215/.294/.333 (.627 OPS), so the Diamondbacks probably didn't lose much here, and they avoided paying half of Roberts' $2M salary.
Unfortunately, the player acquired for Roberts, 24 year-old Tyler Bortnick, has not hit well for AAA Reno - .212/.293/.311 (.603 OPS). Bortnick is still displaying decent speed and plate discipline, but he needs to hit for much higher average if he wants to become a utility player at the Major League level.
2) Traded OF Marc Krauss and 1B/LF Bobby Borchering to the Astros for 3B Chris Johnson (July 29, 2012)
The trading of Roberts left the team with some question marks at Third Base. Four days later, the Diamondbacks sent two minor league prospects to Houston for 27-year-old Chris Johnson. Johnson has hit fairly well for the Diamondbacks, batting .264/.304/.519 (.823 OPS), with 26 RBI in 33 Games, but his defense has been below average. He is only earning $495K this year, and he is expected to hold the starting job at 3B next year over Ryan Wheeler.
Marc Krauss (24) had an excellent comeback season for AA Mobile, batting .283/.416/.509 (.924 OPS), and followed that up with a great week for the Astros' AA affiliate in Corpus Christi, where he went 12 for 29 with 5 HR and 16 RBI in just 7 Games. Krauss did struggle during a brief promotion to AAA Oklahoma City at the end of the year, where he went just 7 for 57, but he could be a factor in the Astros' plans in 2013.
Borchering (21) hit well for Class A Visalia (.874 OPS), but struggled at both AA Mobile (.130/.183/.208 in 82 PA) and AA Corpus Christi (.189/.275/.389 in 109 PA). Between the two AA Teams, he struck out 63 times while drawing only 13 walks. He did hit 24 Home Runs for the year, but he is still pretty far from the Majors.
3) Traded LHP Craig Breslow to the Red Sox for RHP Matt Albers and OF Scott Podsednik (July 31, 2012)
This was probably the strangest trade that the Diamondbacks made this summer. Breslow had a 2.70 ERA for the Diamondbacks with 42K/13BB in 43.1 IP, and had been the team's only reliable left-hander in the bullpen. Since the trade, Breslow has not pitched very well for the Red Sox (4.38 ERA, 13K/5BB in 12.1 IP), while Albers has been a little better with the Diamondbacks (3.29 ERA, 16K/5BB in 13.2 IP, but 3 HR), so maybe it didn't really hurt the team. Breslow did have a higher salary than Albers ($1.795M compared to $1.025M).
Podsednik never reported to the Diamondbacks, since he had the right to refuse his assignment to AAA Reno. Since the Diamondbacks did not end up trading any of their outfielders, Podsednik probably realized that his chances of returning to the Majors were better with the Sox, and he was probably correct, as he has made about 100 plate appearances for them since the trade.
4) Traded SS Stephen Drew to the Athletics for SS Sean Jamieson (August 21, 2012)
The trade of Drew has probably ended up hurting the Diamondbacks the most this year. While Drew only had a .601 OPS with the Diamondbacks, and he hasn't hit significantly better with the A's (.644 OPS), Drew's replacements in Arizona have really struggled. The player expected to replace Drew, Willie Bloomquist, has been injured and has only played in one game since the trade. Since the trade, Jake Elmore has made 8 starts, and has hit just .176/.200/.206 (.406 OPS). Veteran John McDonald has made 13 starts and has not hit much better at .180/.255/.240 (.495 OPS). The team also brough back Cody Ransom to help at shortstop. Overall, shortstop has been a disaster since the Drew trade. But the team did save a little over $2M on Drew's salary for this year and also will not have to pay the $1.35M buyout on Drew's $10M option for 2013.
Sean Jamieson was impressive in his two weeks for Class A South Bend, batting .327/.431/.473 (.903 OPS) with 5 SB in 14 games. He's already 23, so he's a little old for a prospect, but his speed and defense give him a chance to be useful at the Major League level.
5) Traded LHP Joe Saunders and cash to the Orioles for RHP Matt Lindstrom
Saunders did exactly what was expected of him with the Diamondbacks, providing the team with plenty of innings at a slightly better-than-average ERA. But the team thought that top prospects like Tyler Skaggs were ready for a shot in the Majors, so Saunders was expendable. Since the trade, Saunders has pitched about the same with the Orioles (4.24 ERA in 3 starts) as he had with the Diamondbacks, while Skaggs has been promising in Arizona (4.43 ERA, 17K/9BB in 20.1 IP).
Lindstrom gives the Diamondbacks another hard thrower in the bullpen. He has struck out 8 batters in 5 IP wthout walking anyone, and has a 3.60 ERA. Lindstrom has a $4M club option for next year, so the team will have to decide if he is worth that much money next year.
Overall, the trades that the Diamondbacks made in July and August probably did not have a major impact on this season. The team has been hovering around .500 all season, and the Drew trade is the only one that may have hurt the club for 2012. But the exchange of Ryan Roberts at 3B for Chris Johnson probably balanced out the loss of Drew. The Diamondbacks did save around $4M, and they have some potentially useful pieces for next year in Chris Johnson, Matt Albers, and Matt Lindstrom, and maybe Sean Jamieson down the road. Finding a shortstop during the offseason has to be the highest priority, especially if Willie Bloomquist has any lingering injury issues, but it unlikely that Drew would have been re-signed for $10M anyway. Next on the shopping list will be a left-handed reliever to replace Breslow, but the Diamondbacks could turn to Patrick Corbin for that role if Trevor Bauer is ready to join Kennedy, Cahill, Miley, and Skaggs in next year's rotation.