D-backs’ Hall: Preference is to keep Brad Ziegler, though not as closer
Brad Ziegler is one of the most effective pitchers the Arizona Diamondbacks have.
Pretty much every time the team calls on him, he comes in and gets the job done.
Earlier this season, that meant taking the mound in the later innings to help induce a double-play or get the team out of jam; now it means locking down wins as the team’s closer.
In all, the 35-year-old has a 1.21 ERA to go along with 17 saves in 19 opportunities. There isn’t a team in baseball that could not use a player like him, yet according to D-backs president Derrick Hall there haven’t been too many calls from teams trying to acquire the veteran before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“You would think that every team would be knocking on the door for Brad,” Hall told Doug and Wolf on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM Thursday morning. “I think they know how important and how vital he is to us. We haven’t had a lot of requests, and I think that’s because we’ve also sent out signals saying we have Ziegler, we like our team, we want to improve.
“Now that the rest of the world seems to know that we’re looking at starting pitching and that we’re looking to actually add as buyers, I don’t think they’re calling us for that reason. They know that we’re not just sell, sell, sell. And if we were sellers, Brad would be a natural piece to look at because you’d get so much in return for him. But I think Brad’s been so significant to our team and to our results, I think the other 29 teams know that our preference would be to keep him.”
Entering play Thursday the Diamondbacks are 49-51, seven games back of the L.A. Dodgers for the NL West lead and 6.5 behind the San Francisco Giants, owners of the second and final Wild Card spot. They’ve won five straight games, with Ziegler earning the save in two of them.
Yet, while he has excelled as the team’s ninth-inning stopper, Hall admitted the team would ultimately like to remove the submarine-style hurler from that role.
It’s nothing the pitcher has done, rather it’s about being able to make the bullpen that much better.
“Preference would be to have Brad be seventh, eighth inning guy, get the groundball double-play when you need it because he’s so effective there,” Hall said. “Do I think he can close? Yes, and he’s proven that. So if he is our closer next year we’re very comfortable and confident going into it with that. But if we were to get a shut-down closer type, either now or in the offseason, that’s only going to help the back-end of the bullpen even more.”
Hall pointed to the improvement of David Hernandez, who returned this season following Tommy John surgery, along with Daniel Hudson as reasons for why Arizona’s bullpen is becoming a strength, and added that being able to turn to Ziegler earlier in games when a key out or two is needed would only help.
Earlier in the week, the team was linked to stud Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, though it does not appear a trade is imminent. And judging by Hall’s comments, dealing for a closer to replace Ziegler is not really a priority.
“But again, if we go into next season not being able to make a move now or in the offseason, if Ziegler is our closer, we’re very confident, confident in him and comfortable with that.”