Derrick Hall: Diamondbacks are buyers as trade deadline approaches

Aug 20, 2020, 1:11 PM

The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics compete during the first inning of a baseball ga...

The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Oakland Athletics compete during the first inning of a baseball game Monday, Aug. 17, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

(AP Photo/Matt York)

The Arizona Diamondbacks are lucky their hot streak hit when it did.

With the trade deadline on Aug. 31, the front office can approach it with the attitude of a buyer looking to secure a spot in the playoffs, not a team trying to trade away players for future assets.

“A couple week ago we weren’t sure what we were gonna be. If you ask today, we are buyers,” Arizona Diamondbacks president and CEO Derrick Hall on Arizona Sports’ Doug and Wolf on Thursday.

A six-game winning streak that started Aug. 12 and ended Wednesday propelled them from the cellar of the National League West to playoff contention.

Entering Thursday, the D-backs’ 13-12 record is sixth-best record in the league and just half a game back from the Colorado Rockies and San Diego Padres, who are tied for fourth.

Arizona’s biggest need is pitching, both in its starting rotation and bullpen.

A quick look through those players:

Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen have been excellent in the rotation. There’s no reason to doubt their spots are safe.

Madison Bumgarner is on the first year of a longterm deal and, once on the mend, will be back in the starting rotation despite his early struggles.

Luke Weaver was acquired in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Last season, an injury at the end of May sidelined him until the final games of the season, and he pitched once in September.

Robbie Ray, in his sixth season with the D-backs, is on the final year of his contract.

Arizona last year both bought and sold at the deadline; the front office flipped Zack Greinke to the Houston Astros, but traded for Gallen and Mike Leake.

If they want do that again this year, Ray may be the key trade piece, though it’s unclear if a contender would be interested in him as a rental. Despite being a hard-throwing southpaw, which is coveted, he has struggled with location and pitching deep into games.

The bullpen has been a mix of good and bad. While three relievers have an ERA of 2.35 or lower, three are above 8.00. They’ve been able to hold on to most games, but struggles have been offset by the D-backs’ offense that has been the best in the league in late innings over the past two weeks.

If Arizona hopes to survive against the likes of Mookie Betts, Fernando Tatis and Charlie Blackmon in the NL West, it would serve well to bulk up the bullpen.

To actually be a buyer, though, Arizona will need to continue keeping pace with those National League competitors.

There’s still 11 days to go until the deadline; 11 days ago, the D-backs were 6-10 and looked lost.

“A lot can change, we know, over a week or two weeks, but at this point, we’re right in the thick of it, where we should be,” Hall said. “The way we started, we were a little worried … but we’re obviously right in the thick of it.”

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