Grantland’s Jonah Keri: Confused that D-backs didn’t sell at trade deadline

Aug 3, 2015, 5:26 PM

The Arizona Diamondbacks have hovered around mediocrity for most of the 2015 season.

They have been between four games under .500, and at the .500 clip for all but 13 contests this year.

Unfortunately there is a problem with such mediocre play, and that issue is they are stuck in no man’s land when it comes to looking at the standings.

Despite being 6.5 games out of a playoff spot, they aren’t quite good enough to make a push, but also are not bad enough to where they need to trade off veteran players.

That left the team in a tough position at the July 31 trade deadline when the team decided not to make a move, which confused Grantland’s baseball insider Jonah Keri.

Simply put, the D-backs are not very good, and they should have been a seller.

In terms of selling, the team did not have much to sell.

Aaron Hill’s low production makes it extremely tough to trade his salary and the team currently likes its mix of having four strong outfielders.

There just wasn’t much to give up, and as Keri noted, the team did make a couple of deals in June.

Yes, they did make a couple of notable trades in June. The first sent Mark Trumbo and Vidal Nuno to Seattle in the kind of six-player deal for prospects you’d expect to see from an also-ran ballclub. But the other was just the opposite: In trading away first-round draft pick and intriguing pitching prospect Touki Toussaint for the sake of saving some bucks, the D-backs unloaded the exact kind of asset a rebuilding team should want. The move prompted the baseball world to ask a simple question: What the hell is Dave Stewart doing?

Many around the baseball industry seemed to have questioned Stewart’s decision to dump their first round pick from 2014, but the move almost paid off.

The team was rumored to be close to trading for Reds’ closer Aroldis Chapman, with the intent of giving him a big extension. That’s money the D-backs may not have had if they didn’t trade Bronson Arroyo’s contract to the Braves along with Toussaint.

Well, the Chapman trade didn’t go through and that left the team empty-handed at the deadline.

The answer is no clearer after the quiet trade deadline week. Stewart caused even more head-scratching with comments he made to the media once the deadline passed. If Stewart is to be believed, Arizona’s inquiries into the availability of Craig Kimbrel led Padres GM A.J. Preller to ask for MVP-caliber first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in return. If Stewart is properly representing the situation, that makes Preller look a bit like the loose cannon in your fantasy league, but it’s also the kind of info that GMs typically don’t reveal. While leaks happen all the time in trade negotiations, you’ll almost never see a GM comment on the record about specific names exchanged in unrealized trade talks. If you’re trying to build goodwill or even just maintain a reputation as a good potential trade partner, you don’t do what Stewart did.

Keri did throw a bone Stewart’s way, as if to show he doesn’t quite have it out for the D-backs rookie general manager. The Grantland writer loved the move to acquire Robbie Ray, who has pitched to a 3.01 ERA through 12 starts.

Outside of that trade, it seems like Stewart has a ways to go if he wants to impress Keri.

As for what the Arizona GM has done well, Robbie Ray has been electric in his first 11 starts with Arizona, and right now he looks like a good bet to become the best player of the four exchanged in December’s three-way Didi Gregorius trade with the Yankees and Tigers. Beyond that, though, this is a team that’s been mostly mediocre, occasionally terrible, and continually confusing since the 94-win bonanza of 2011. And after all that’s happened — and not happened — in the past couple months, it’s unclear if the person in charge is the one best suited to lead the Diamondbacks to another October run.



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Grantland’s Jonah Keri: Confused that D-backs didn’t sell at trade deadline