Only time will tell if the Arizona Diamondbacks made a good trade on Tuesday. What we do know is they dealt from a position of strength (pitching prospects) to address a position of need (shortstop). Now, Didi Gregorius may not be as good as Asdrubal Cabrera or Elvis Andrus or as highly-rated as Jurickson Profar, but he is a top five or ten shortstop prospect in baseball, is under control for six years and a good comparison of what type of player he may become is Edgar Renteria.
What we know about Gregorius is that he is very good defensively, has great range and can hit a little. Not a lot of power but could be a .260 to .275 hitter in the big leagues with 10 to 15 home runs. He is considered Major League-ready right now, so he could break camp as the starting shortstop.
I like the addition of Tony Sipp, a good left-handed reliever with a solid breaking ball. The third player in the trade, Lars Andrson, was a Boston prospect stuck behind Anthony Rizzo and Adrian Gonzalez. He is just OK — not a key component of the trade. He put up gaudy minor league numbers but is a Josh Whitesell-type player.
The key to the trade, of course, is what Bauer will become. The third overall pick in the 2011 draft was on the fast track to the Major Leagues, dominating in Double-A and Triple-A before struggling in a brief stint with the Diamondbacks. The issues with Bauer were attitude, velocity, control and program.
He had a bad attitude when he first arrived in the big leagues, punctuated by constant battles with Miguel Montero and management. When he struggled and the organization suggested changes to his routine, he resisted.
His velocity in college had his fastball sitting at 93 to 94 and topping out at 97. He never touched that in the Majors, topping out at 92. That led to questions on his arm endurance, which is much different than arm strength. His high walk total (13 in 16 innings) was an alarm. He didn’t want to pitch to contact; he wanted to strike everyone out. That philosophy leads to a five-inning pitcher. And his unconventional program of warming up and throwing on the side, something that had never been done at the Major League-level before, caused problems.
Now, even with those questions Bauer is still a top pitching prospect in baseball and has the potential to be an ace of a staff. Opinions on Bauer vary. Some believe he will be a star, some believe he’ll be a bust.
It’s quite possible this trade ends up helping both teams. Gregorius could become a dominant player at the most important defensive position on the field and Bauer could end up becoming a solid number-two pitcher on the Indians’ staff.
Only time will tell.