Diamondbacks solve No. 1 issue with acquisition of closer Paul Sewald
Jul 31, 2023, 3:26 PM | Updated: 5:28 pm
(Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images)
The Diamondbacks have a long, sordid history with closers.
Welcome, Paul Sewald. The bar is very low.
The Diamondbacks are reportedly acquiring Sewald from the Mariners in exchange for three players: Josh Rojas, Dominic Canzone and Ryan Bliss. Rojas will benefit from a change in scenery, and the loss of Canzone comes after a string of at-bats that were full of intrigue and potential, a loss that may one day be lamentable.
Fair trade, especially since all of Arizona’s elite prospects still remain in the fold. If the Diamondbacks do nothing else before the deadline passes, they have solved their No. 1 issue. They have imported a real closer who will bring clarity to the position, along with a hierarchy and a sense of normalcy to the entire bullpen.
When high-leverage baseball games arrive, and they already have, a fair-minded baseball town cannot expect its manager to pull the right name out of a hat on a nightly basis based on matchups or gut instinct. When it fails, that approach can tear a good team to shreds.
That was beginning to happen in Arizona, along with a general regression on offense; a noticeable fraying of the defense; recent attrition by injury; and a sudden slew of base-running mistakes.
In baseball, it’s a long season for a reason.
Now, at the very least, the Diamondbacks have a real endgame solution. They will be markedly better at closing out games and victories. Kevin Ginkel can be the set-up guy, while the seventh inning can be tailored around matchups, from the pit crew of Miguel Castro, Andrew Chafin and Scott McGough. Lowering the temperature on that particular trio can only help.
Credit general manager Mike Hazen for taking an appropriate risk. Clearly, he has been cautious, careful not to peddle away too much for the stark potential of a wild card series. But because this trade involves a legitimate closer, it might have ripple effects.
Either way, we know how volatile the position can be. The Diamondbacks won a World Series despite the high-wire theatrics of Byung-Hyun Kim. Jose Valverde, Matt Mantei and J.J. Putz enjoyed stretches of dominance, saving a combined 255 out of 298 games. Brad Ziegler was a dominant oddity: a submarine pitcher with an incredible gift of inducing double play groundballs. But Fernando Rodney was a non-stop rollercoaster. Somehow, he converted 39 of 45 save attempts while still posting a 4.23 ERA.
The stage will soon belong to Sewald. Let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.
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