It’s been a very, very bad year for the Arizona Diamondbacks. The team endured a 17-game losing streak from May 16th through May 29th and before Saturday had set an MLB record with 24 straight defeats on the road. The team does have some talented players, but that hasn’t necessarily translated to success on the field, and so it’s only natural to look at some of those talented players as real trade targets.
Ketel Marte is the marquee star of any trade talk, combining an elite offensive profile with the ability to play three different positions passably-or-better. He’s also under contract until the end of next season, plus carries two club options at $10 and $12 million each. To pair that with a 165 wRC+ bat makes the 27-year-old one of the most valuable “assets” in the game, and his price will be, fittingly, high (even with his injured hamstring). On a recent episode of Effectively Wild, Diamondbacks analyst Mike Ferrin remarked that he didn’t see Marte moving anywhere this year — his cost is just too high for a team to match.
Outside of Marte, the Diamondbacks offer a fair amount of veteran pieces for a lineup in need of depth. Eduardo Escobar and Asdrúbal Cabrera are both free agents at the end of the year, and offer a very traditional established player addition at the deadline. Neither one will really raise eyebrows, but the cost will be low enough that they can make for an attractive acquisition.
Finally, there are the pitching options. The trouble is that the D-backs have a truly terrible pitching staff, boasting the second-worst ERA in baseball overall, with the second-worst starter’s ERA, and third-worst bullpen ERA. Pitching generally drives more interest at the deadline than position players, since you can leverage pitchers a little more in the postseason, but Arizona doesn’t really offer much in that space.
Prototypical deadline acquisitions, like reliever Joakim Soria — an impending free agent — have been dreadful. There are interesting arms like our old friend Caleb Smith, as well as Taylor Clarke, but both pitchers come with multiple years of control raising their prices, as well as serving as a trigger for a higher bidding war should Arizona even decide to sell off in the first place.
And that’s really the outstanding question for the organization. They certainly didn’t come into 2021 expecting to win the NL West, but as Ferrin detailed in that EW episode, they hoped to be competitive, betting on a bit of good luck to potentially give them a playoff shot. That obviously hasn’t happened this year, but with their most valuable pieces — Marte, Smith, Clarke — under control for multiple more seasons, there’s certainly an incentive to run it back next year and see if you can re-align with that strategy of being competitive and hoping for a good bounce or two.
Ketel Marte is going to dominate trade talks until the deadline, but it’s going to be tough for any team to land him. The rest of the D-Backs options are hard to wrap your arms around, both in terms of roster fit and prospect cost. Maybe the Yankees surprise us, but I’m not betting on them being a major player for Arizona’s best trade pieces.