Diamondbacks potential trade packages involving OF surplus

Nov 26, 2022, 6:45 AM | Updated: 9:25 am

With the acquisition of Kyle Lewis from the Seattle Mariners early this offseason, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ outfield surplus grew even stronger.

Though GM Mike Hazen doesn’t envision Lewis playing center field, and his injury history suggests a shift to designated hitter makes sense, he remains a candidate to play the outfield.

That brings the number of 40-man roster outfielders with MLB experience to six: Lewis, Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Daulton Varsho, Jake McCarthy and Pavin Smith.

Six outfielders — Lewis the lone righty bat — and only four positions in the lineup for them, including DH.

With a relatively weak free-agent pool of outfielders, the D-backs’ surplus should give them a leg up on the trade market.

However, what teams make for viable trade partners?

Let’s take a look at three possible trade packages to plug holes at other positions with a wealth of talent in the outfield.

Trade No. 1

Toronto Blue Jays get: McCarthy and cash considerations

D-backs get: C Danny Jansen

Why this trade makes sense:

Last season, the D-backs were one of the least productive teams offensively at the catcher position, posting a wRC+ of 63 (100 is average) and -0.3 wins above replacement. They finished 24th and 25th, respectively, in those two stats.

They also struggled defensively, ranking 25th in framing runs — runs the catcher’s framing saves his pitchers — and tied for 24th in defensive runs saved.

While Jansen isn’t a proficient pitch-framer (-1.4 framing runs), he’s slashed .243/.321/.496 with 26 homers and a wRC+ of 124 since 2021. Last season, his 140 wRC+ ranked first among catchers with at least 200 plate appearances.

The Blue Jays have a surplus at catcher, with Jansen the lone player over the age of 25.

However, they cut ties with left-handed hitting outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Raimel Tapia, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is a free agent. The only remaining lefty bat on the 40-man in the Blue Jays outfield is Nathan Lukes, a 28-year-old with zero MLB plate appearances.

Why this trade doesn’t make sense:

Hazen said his end-of-season press conference that he didn’t think the team needed to add catching, but said they’d target defense if they did.

Jansen blossomed into a potent offensive force, especially sharing the load the past two seasons. However, he was in the 38th percentile in framing and 45th percentile in pop time to second base.

On the other side of the deal, the Blue Jays may opt for the limited array of free-agent lefty outfield bats to address that hole.

Someone like Andrew Benintendi or Brandon Nimmo may make more sense than trading for McCarthy, whose underlying data hints at possible regression.

Trade No. 2

Detroit Tigers get: Smith and SS/2B Blaze Alexander (No. 14 D-backs prospect)

D-backs get: RHP Joe Jimenez

Why this trade makes sense:

Diamondbacks right-handed relievers struggled in 2022, posting a 5.03 ERA and striking out fewer than two men per walk.

Adding a pitcher the caliber of Jimenez, who’s been an All-Star before, is a major step in the right direction for the team’s bullpen.

He posted a 3.49 ERA with a 2.00 FIP and struck out 77 guys in 56.2 innings last season. He also posted a career-high in average fastball velocity (95.9 mph).

Hazen acknowledged the lack of power the D-backs have had in the bullpen and has already taken steps at addressing that issue with the Carlos Vargas acquisition. Jimenez provides the team with power and some soft closing experience (20 saves in 297 appearances).

As for the Tigers, they struggled offensively in the outfield and at first base last season.

Smith hasn’t set the world on fire as a major leaguer just yet but has a career .283 average with a 125 wRC+ in 298 minor league games.

Alexander would give the Tigers a middle infield prospect with an ETA of 2023 and hit .301 with 20 home runs in 98 games in 2022. With Jonathan Schoop set to become a free agent at the end of next season, Alexander gives Detroit a legitimate replacement going into 2024.

Why this trade doesn’t make sense:

Smith’s positional versatility is still of solid use for the D-backs. If first baseman Christian Walker got injured, Smith could fill in — as he could at a corner outfield spot.

For the Tigers, Jimenez may net a trade package that returns a higher ceiling for Detroit elsewhere. Coming off his best season, they may look to sell high. Arizona’s trade package is more in line with the pitcher Jimenez has been since 2019 (4.83 ERA, 4.23 FIP).

Trade No. 3

Miami Marlins get: McCarthy, INF Buddy Kennedy and RHP Edwin Uceta

D-backs get: LHP Jesus Luzardo and cash considerations

Why this trade makes sense:

History always has a funny way of repeating itself.

While it isn’t a one-for-one swap like the Zac Gallen for Jazz Chisholm trade of 2019, these two teams link up again because the Marlins have a surplus of starting pitching.

Not only that, but they also have a glaring need for outfield help, as their outfield ranked 28th in wins above replacement and 29th in wRC+ in 2022.

Meanwhile, McCarthy ranked 33rd in wins above replacement for outfielders despite being 96th in games played. His 116 wRC+ ranked in a 35th-place tie among 131 outfielders with at least 250 plate appearances.

The Marlins also ranked second in baseball last year with 122 stolen bases. McCarthy tied for 13th among all players in steals.

Perhaps an overlooked commodity in this trade is Kennedy, who started 24 games at either third or second base in 2022.

Kennedy had a great offensive season in 2021, but took a step back between Triple-A and the majors this past season. However, he provides help in a utility role at a cost-effective salary, which is a need for the Marlins after declining the option of infielder Joey Wendle.

On the other side, D-backs southpaw starters had a 5.48 ERA in 2022, while Luzardo broke out in Miami with a 3.32 ERA and 30% strikeout rate.

Moreover, Luzardo has four more seasons of team control, while McCarthy has six. Both sides get young, controllable assets at positions of importance.

Acquiring Luzardo, in some respects, also allows Arizona to bounce an excess starter to the bullpen — Drey Jameson, Madison Bumgarner (if they approach that role change), etc.

Why this trade doesn’t make sense:

As mentioned under the first trade, McCarthy’s underlying data hints that regression may be in his future. While he hit .283 with a .427 slugging percentage, his expected statistics showed those numbers should’ve been .249 and .357, respectively.

Now, MLB is eliminating the shift moving forward, which could positively affect McCarthy. The 24-year-old outfielder had a .296 weighted on-base average in his 134 plate appearances this season facing a shift, .362 when not shifted against.

However, there’s still cause for skepticism over what his offensive ceiling is when he hits the ball on the ground half the time.


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