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D-backs must navigate trade deadline amidst crowded NL Wild Card picture

Robbie Ray #38 of the Arizona Diamondbacks gestures to the dugout after hitting an RBI single off of Jon Gray #55 of the Colorado Rockies during the fourth inning as Diamondbacks first base coach Dave McKay #39 looks on at Chase Field on July 06, 2019 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks two years ago secured a home Wild Card game against the Colorado Rockies — their first playoff appearance since they won their division in 2011. The one-game playoff ended in Arizona’s favor and vaulted it to the NLDS, where the D-backs were eventually swept by the Dodgers.

That short postseason for the D-backs is good context for what perhaps is a split in opinion among those observing the Diamondbacks: Is it better to make the playoffs but get eliminated quickly or miss the playoffs but build for a more sustainable future?

“I think we talk about all the time. It seems like one game most likely, at this point, the way the Nationals have been playing and separating themselves, is probably a road game against Max Scherzer,” D-backs assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday. “Yeah, those are some of the conversations we have. But we also recognize this team has a lot of talent. We also recognize as much as there’s been mediocrity in the National League, we’ve been part of that mediocrity.”

Indeed, a look at the NL standings paints an odd picture. The San Francisco Giants, who are just 2.5 games ahead of being the second-worst team in the NL, are also only three games back of the second Wild Card spot. Similarly, the Diamondbacks are only a game out of the second Wild Card spot despite only being a game over .500 and having a sub-.500 record at home. Since May 4, the D-backs are 28-34.

All this makes it that much more difficult to decide whether to buy or sell at the July 31 trade deadline.

“I think it’s a tough question to answer,” Sawdaye said. “We’re in a pretty decent position as far as where we are in the Wild Card standing, but not necessarily how we view where we want our team to be playing. We obviously hope to see a little more consistency and a little bit more separation. … I’m not sure that’s really been answered yet, as tough as that may be, but that’s the truth.”

Who they would even trade — or trade for — is a whole other matter even still. Reports this week indicate that Robbie Ray is on some teams’ radars, but the potential trade pieces the D-backs have on their roster goes far beyond just him.

“We talk about a lot of different things outside of just the July 31st trade deadline,” Sawdaye said. “But look at it more from an organizational perspective and what’s the best path for the organization, and try to be super objective and maybe less emotional. A win or a loss the night before shouldn’t dictate how we perceive. And we’ll throw a lot of different ideas out there. Sometimes, we may bounce an idea off each other and say, ‘Oh yeah, let’s call this team and discuss an issue or discuss an idea,’ and sometimes those ideas come to us.

“I think the deadline, it’s gotten accelerated in the last couple years, teams start making deals in the beginning of July. We’re at a point where patience is probably important because you never know what’s going to happen.”

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