Former D-back Archie Bradley: Arizona ‘helped make who Archie Bradley is’

Aug 31, 2020, 3:17 PM | Updated: 9:29 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley pumps up the crowd on the sixteenth hole tee box during...

Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Archie Bradley pumps up the crowd on the sixteenth hole tee box during the Annexes Pro-Am prior to the Waste Management Phoenix Open at TPC Scottsdale on January 30, 2019 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

(Photo by Ben Jared/PGA TOUR)

Pitcher Archie Bradley called it “weird” that he is no longer a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Two hours after Arizona dealt him to the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, Bradley told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo that it felt like the end of an era.

Still, he referred to D-backs fans as “our fanbase.” Bradley said he would be a Diamondback for the rest of the day before flipping the switch to embrace the Reds tomorrow. He understood why Arizona traded him.

“I understand the way this business works and it is a business,” he told Burns & Gambo. “For me, not in a bad way, this is a little more personal than being traded. Not many guys spend this much time with teams that drafted them.

“It’s a very weird emotional state to be in.”

Bradley was traded for OF Stuart Fairchild and LF Josh VanMeter, but he wasn’t the only Arizona played dealt Monday. Starling Marte, plus pitchers Robbie Ray and Andrew Chafin, were shipped away before the deadline.

While Ray and Chafin had long terms in Arizona, Bradley’s place on the Diamondbacks was unique. He was drafted in the first round by the D-backs in 2011, forgoing a chance to play football and baseball for the Oklahoma Sooners. He grew up over the past decade in Arizona, evolving from top starting pitching prospect into an MLB pro.

He made 35 starts in 2015 and 2016, going 10-13 with a 5.34 ERA before shifting into a bullpen role in 2017.

There Bradley thrived, posting a 2.87 ERA and 1.12 WHIP in 225.2 innings since the role change. He also hit a pretty memorable triple to help the D-backs beat the Colorado Rockies in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game.

Bradley finally got labeled as a closer in 2020, but with Arizona going 14-21 before the deadline, he appeared only 10 times with six saves.

The 28-year-old is arbitration eligible heading into 2021 before he will become a free agent. General manager Mike Hazen told reporters looking toward the future was more in line with the decision to trade the right-hander, who had performed well in limited action so far this season.

“The decision was a challenging one personally,” said Hazen, who informed Bradley of the trade. “I know he’s a fan favorite for a reason, and that’s a tricky one for us to factor into. We want to keep our fan favorites and our Diamondbacks that were drafted and developed here long term. We’re not in a position currently to do that with this team right now.

“You have to start to weigh what the end of 2021 is going to look like in terms of what it’s going to look like the day after the 2021 season. So putting all the eggs in that basket can present a challenge from a roster construction standpoint where we are.”

More than his baseball resume, Bradley was hailed because of his honest personality, charitable work and connection to a fanbase that went beyond the baseball field.

He was a must-invite to the Waste Management Open, where over the years he donned his loud shirts and got the crowd hyped at the 16th hole. He bridged the D-backs with the Suns, Coyotes and Cardinals, being sure to support those teams in person and shout out their stars on social media.

“I mean this in the best way, not to talk down to myself: For a lot of my career here, I was a one-inning reliever, maybe multi-inning reliever. I wasn’t your quote-on-quote Paul Goldschmidt superstar, Zack Greinke ace,” Bradley said. “The way I go about my life is just at 100%. I just felt connected the day I got here. I saw not a struggling fanbase but a young fanbase. I feel like that gets confused a lot.”

Bradley did a lot to change that, and the community, he said, helped him evolve as well.

“I grew up here,” he said. “From the minors to the big leagues at 22, starter, to reliever, the beard, no beard. I mean, Arizona has helped make who Archie Bradley is. I mean that in the most humble way.

“It’s been fun, man, and I’m truly blessed to say I got my start here.”

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