Yankees Rumors: The Diamondbacks are reportedly open for business; should the Yankees shop?

Norm Hall

Arizona is going nowhere and has new leadership, so should the Yankees be interested in what the D'backs might be selling?

Baseball's a funny game. Just three years ago, the Arizona Diamondbacks went from worst to first and made a 29-game improvement to win the 2011 National League West division title. Although they lost a tight five-game Division Series to the Milwaukee Brewers in the bottom of the ninth (ah, sweet justice), they had a bright young core and a skipper who was widely respected throughout the game in former World Series hero Kirk Gibson.

Then, they played exactly .500 ball for two years in a row, and in 2014, they have utterly crashed and burned. They are back to the pits with the worst record in the National League at 33-47, their manager is now derided for being an overly macho clown interested in beanball wars, and the owners have hired Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa to serve as their "Chief Baseball Officer," a nebulous role that is still being defined. One part of La Russa's job that few are questioning though is that he now runs the baseball show, not GM Kevin Towers or Gibson. Thus, it wouldn't be surprising to see one or both of them canned before the season ends. The Diamondbacks' team on the field is at a crossroads, and according to reporter Nick Piecoro, the Diamondbacks are getting ready to hold a fire sale. They will be listening to offers for pretty much anyone except for their incredibly valuable slugging first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt, who has a wRC+ over 150 the past season and a half and is only getting paid $32 million through 2018.

With the Yankees struggling along at just a couple games over .500 in a very winnable American League East, the question must be asked: who on the Diamondbacks will the Yankees most likely look into acquiring? To preface, I highly doubt that the Diamondbacks would be interested in dealing young and effective cost-controlled players like center fielder A.J. Pollock and shortstop Chris Owings, so they are not included.

Brandon McCarthy

A line drive comebacker survivor and a wonderful Twitter personality, McCarthy signed a two-year, $15.5 million deal with the D'backs prior to the 2013 season after bouncing around the AL with three teams since 2005. The righthander will turn 31 on July 7th, and due to his inexpensive cost, several teams are likely to be after him. McCarthy is a control artist, and his minuscule 1.5 BB/9 has led to a fine 3.89 FIP since the beginning of 2013 (38 starts, 232 innings). Unfortunately, McCarthy has a big blemish in his game that could scare the Yankees away--it's possible that he just throws too many strikes. Opposing batters have hit him to a .298/.331/.485 triple slash in 2014, belting 15 homers off  him, a figure that is a big reason why his ERA is an unsightly 5.38. Arizona's Chase Field surrenders a lot of homers, and Yankee Stadium isn't a pleasant home park for his style of pitching, either. Unless he can be acquired for a very cheap cost, it probably wouldn't be in the Yankees' best interest to trade for him.

Martin Prado

The longtime Brave was a critical part of the Justin Upton trade prior to the 2013 season, and the Yankees could seek to reunite the infielder with his old teammate, Brian McCann. Prado was splendid for the Braves in their Wild Card 2012 season, batting .301/.359/.438 with 42 doubles, a 117 wRC+, and 5.6 fWAR. In his first full year in Arizona, he hit a steady .282/.333/.417 with 36 doubles, a 103 wRC+, and 2.3 fWAR. He can play second and third base, both positions of need for the Yankees right now. At first glance, he would seem like a guy the Yankees should definitely have their eye on. The downside however is his disappointing 2014 to date. The 30-year-old righty has slipped to a .272/.320/.372 triple slash with an 89 wRC+ as his power has taken an unfortunate dip. Complicating matters further is that after this year, he still has two more years and $22 million remaining on his four-year contract extension. If Arizona is truly seeking to shed salary, they might accept an low-prospect return for him in exchange for the Yankees absorbing some of the cost. If the Yankees have confidence that this half-season is an anomaly and Prado can recapture at least his 2013 form, then he might be someone worth looking into due to his versatility and their ability to absorb excess dollars. Put him as a "maybe" for now.

Oliver Perez

Yes, the former Mets punchline has actually reinvented himself as an interesting lefty relief arm over the past few years with the Mariners and D'backs. Since the start of the 2012, Ollie has pitched to a 2.94 ERA and 3.15 FIP. Perez is not just a LOOGY, either, as he has proved himself decent at retiring righties as well. In 2014, the 32-year-old has a 2.35 ERA and 3.19 FIP in 34 games and 30 2/3 innings. If the Yankees traded for him, they would be on the hook for the year and a half remaining on his two-year, $4.2 million deal. A relief arm isn't going to be the answer to all of the Yankees' problems, so again, the prospect cost would have to be low. Nonetheless, Perez is an option who might help take some of the stress off Dellin Betances in the 'pen. If Perez doesn't do it for you, then righty Brad Ziegler would be another option, though his more noticeable success over the past few years might make his cost higher.

***

The Diamondbacks might be open for shop, but few of their assets really seem capable of helping the Yankees. There are more players beyond the ones I listed too. They have either already been discussed in the off-season (shortstop Didi Gregorius, who would be more of an acquisition for the future), bad (Cody Ross and his 47 wRC+, Aaron Hill and his high-cost/replacement level play), or hurt and unattractive (Bronson Arroyo, Mark Trumbo, and Eric Chavez). The only ones I would really advocate taking a long look at would be Prado, but time will tell whether or not the D'backs would actually be willing to absorb enough of the cost to make him a more interesting option.

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