The Arizona Diamondbacks rid themselves of a cornerstone player and top pitching prospect this offseason.
Two-time All-Star Justin Upton was traded to Atlanta in exchange for third baseman Martin Prado, pitcher Randall Delgado and others.
Pitcher Trevor Bauer, the third-overall draft pick in the 2011 draft, was sent to Cleveland in a three-team deal that landed the D-backs shortstop Didi Gregorius.
The team also added outfielders Cody Ross and Tony Campana along with third baseman Eric Chavez, among others, while bolstering its pitching staff with the acquisitions of Brandon McCarthy and Heath Bell.
Still, CBSSports.com baseball writer Matt Snyder wasn’t impressed by the team’s moves. In his pre-season power rankings the D-backs stand at 19, right ahead of the Pirates, Yankees and Red Sox.
After trading his best player and most promising starting pitcher, general manager Kevin Towers said he wanted his team to get grittier. Generally speaking, that means less talented, in my opinion. Think about it. Do you ever hear Miguel Cabrera, Matt Kemp or Andrew McCutchen called gritty? Nope. They’re just incredible baseball players. And, yes, they do hustle and work hard. I’ll take more of those. You can have your “gritty” Tony Campanas.
Contrary to Snyder’s opinion, “grittiness” is not the only thing the D-backs may have acquired.
There’s no doubt Upton is extremely talented and it’s never easy parting with a player of his caliber, but in return the D-backs received a disciplined hitter who struck out 52 times less than the 25-year-old outfielder in 2012 and has 32 more hits over the past four seasons.
As for Gregorius, the shortstop has hit .458 in 24 at-bats this spring, while Ross accounted for 22 home runs and 81 RBI with the Red Sox last season.
Then there’s Campana, who swiped 54 bags in two seasons for the Cubs, and will provide a threat on the base paths for Arizona.
So are the D-backs grittier? Maybe. But there’s a chance they’ll also be better, and that’s what it’s all about.