D-backs looked into starting pitching at deadline, didn’t get deal done

Aug 1, 2023, 6:29 PM | Updated: Aug 2, 2023, 11:51 am

Mike Hazen...

Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks addresses the media after Corbin Carroll signed a contract extension before the Spring Training game against the Colorado Rockies at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on March 12, 2023 in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

(Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)

The Arizona Diamondbacks addressed the back end of the bullpen, added a right-handed bat and a versatile defender at the 2023 MLB trade deadline. The D-backs did not come away with a new starting pitcher, despite attempts by general manager Mike Hazen.

Starters such as Michael Lorenzen, Jack Flaherty, Rich Hill and Justin Verlander flew off the board Tuesday ahead of the 3 p.m. deadline, while Chicago White Sox ace Dylan Cease and Eduardo Rodriguez of the Detroit Tigers stayed put.

Hazen explained the market for starters was made more difficult considering how many clubs were buyers, and opposing organizations asked for players on Arizona’s MLB roster in deals.

That’s not foreign to the Diamondbacks. They dealt major leaguers Josh Rojas and Dominic Canzone for Seattle Mariners closer Paul Sewald on Monday to address a critical need.

Hazen said his front office was willing to push beyond what it considered a fair value trade to pick up starting pitching, but the deals available to them were beyond what he considered worthwhile.

“For a starter, that wasn’t a concept that we felt like it had to be fair value. Those things go to a certain point, especially with a rental, that you feel ‘How far are you willing to push it?’ It wasn’t just the Hillsboro and Visalia rosters that we were talking about,” Hazen said.

“We were talking about guys who were on our team, around our team, going to be on our team in a lot of these deals. That’s what made it somewhat challenging for us … We obviously said ‘No,’ at certain points.”

The D-backs have a corps of young, controllable players in the majors and upper minors, and Hazen said other teams expressed a desire to turn their ship around quickly with these types of players.

“Almost every deal was a combination of players that we had that we didn’t do, 2-3 players,” Hazen said. “Some of those players were on our team.”

The club is down to four healthy starting pitchers on the active roster with Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and rookies Ryne Nelson and Brandon Pfaadt. Tommy Henry (elbow) and Zach Davies (back) are on the 15-day injured list. Arizona will need to call up prospect Slade Cecconi for a start on Wednesday, Arizona Sports‘ John Gambadoro reported.

Davies has been on the injured list for extended periods twice this year, and Kelly missed a month of action with a blood clot in his right calf. The onus has been on Nelson and Henry particularly to build innings, and manager Torey Lovullo has noted that can be difficult on younger arms late in the season.

Without a trade, the Diamondbacks will need to rely on youth to put together competitive outings in a playoff race over the final 50-plus games. Arizona entered deadline day tied for the third wild card spot in the National League.

“Where it leaves us is with the horses we got in this stable right now,” Lovullo told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Tuesday. “I think it’s a great challenge for us as a group, specifically these pitchers and the coaches in that area, to keep plowing and have these guys learn and develop. When they do, they’re gonna have that much more experience when they gotta go out there and get big outs.”

Arizona made four trades over the final two days ahead of the deadline, adding Sewald, infielder and Rojas replacement Jace Peterson, reliever Peter Strzelecki and outfielder Tommy Pham.

Hazen felt his front office was disciplined in what it set out to accomplish, noting he thinks it could have been more aggressive if the D-backs maintained their pace entering July. They finished the month 8-16, losing their division lead.

“I think if you’re in a certain position relative to winning a division, a commanding lead in the division, that is such an important dynamic that maybe you can justify being even more aggressive at certain times,” Hazen said. “But it’s hard to say, I don’t know what the alternate universe was.”

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D-backs looked into starting pitching at deadline, didn’t get deal done