The Arizona Diamondbacks could look to make a trade-deadline deal for an everyday third baseman. But should they?
Two or three could be on the block, and if the right deal emerges, the D’backs' front-office personnel could pull the trigger.
Finding a suitor could be difficult, but general manager Kevin Towers told Arizona Sports 620’s Doug and Wolf (h/t ArizonaSports.com) that he is always proactive in trying to improve the team.
“That’s really what I’ve been working on all day [Tuesday]. Just going through each and every roster and trying to eliminate teams we don’t match up with and others that maybe where we have depth they lack depth, or where we lack depth they have depth.”
The aggregate slash line for D’backs who have played at third base this season is not impressive—.224/.290/.360—and they’ve combined for just 10 HR, 44 RBI, 11 2B and 20 BB.
Ryan Roberts, the nearly everyday man at third, has been below average this season after overachieving in 2011. He is not a long-term starter option for the team. His role should be more along the lines of a utility infielder playing sporadically when someone needs a day off.
That's not to be harsh—it just is what it is.
There are many teams interested in Chase Headley, because he’s a good player (.372 on-base percentage) and because he’s still climbing the arbitration scale; he’s making $3.8 million this year. Unless the Padres are devoted to the idea of keeping Headley as a centerpiece for years to come, his trade value may never be higher than it is right now.
Headley boasts a slash line of .271/.372/.417 this season, and while it’s not the best, it is better than what Arizona has been able to muster, and those numbers are right on par with his career averages.
As Headley seems to be the biggest name currently on the market at the hot corner, two other scenarios could be entertained if a deal for the 28-year-old does not come to fruition.
The first would be to trade for Houston Astros SS Jed Lowrie, who spent time at third base in Boston and posted a .961 fielding percentage in 525 innings.
Olney says the price to acquire Lowrie would be steep, but I believe he could be had for what Houston needs.
The Astros are in great need of starting pitching help, as is San Diego. And that is something Arizona has in reserve.
Per his Twitter account, Daniel Hudson says he will undergo Tommy John surgery on July 9, and that could keep him off the mound until at least the start of next season. While that would be a problem for most MLB clubs, the D’backs have enough resources in the minors—and even in their bullpen—to make up for his loss.
LHP Joe Saunders pitched a simulated game at Chase Field Tuesday and says his throwing shoulder is perfectly fine. His return to the rotation will be a big help, as he sports a 3.44 ERA in 13 starts, bringing along a 4-5 record.
Or, he could be trade bait for Houston, who would likely take on his ERA—which is lower than every Astros starter—in a heartbeat in return for Lowrie. Lowrie is expendable, because the No. 1 overall pick in the most recent MLB first-year player draft, SS Carlos Correa, could be ready to join the team as early as a year from now.
Lowrie is batting .255 with 14 HR and 35 RBI, and he has scored 36 times this season.
If the Astros want to get something good for Lowrie, now is the time to make a deal. The longer they wait, the closer to ready Correa will be, ultimately causing Lowrie’s stock to plummet.
The last—and perhaps the easiest—method of finding an everyday third baseman would be to not make a deal at all. The D’backs have in their minor league system a very talented third basemen who could be ready to make the leap to the big club.
Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Wheeler is lighting up the Pacific Coast League at Triple-A Reno. He has 13 HR, 82 RBI, 115 hits and 185 total bases in 80 games played so far. His .364/.402/.585 slash line is impressive to say the least.
But will the D’backs give him a shot at third before making any trades?
B/R Correspondent Paul Francis Sullivan believes Wheeler should be promoted, if for nothing else but to gain experience.
I agree with him. Wheeler is a good hitter with quintessential gap-to-gap power. Not necessarily a big home-run threat, but a true RBI machine.
Towers spoke of Wheeler during the interview with Doug and Wolf:
“For him, I think the key is defense; that’s kind of how it was for Goldy [Paul Goldschmidt]. I think this kid’s going to hit, he’s got a real fast bat…He’s certainly somebody who’s on our radar.”
But Towers also let it be known that he’s always looking to get a deal done and says it’s not only about the present—it’s also about the future.
“I’m always looking to swing, regardless of what our record is,” Towers said. “I think you’re always trying to improve your club regardless if you have a winning record or a losing record. You have to not only look at the present but the future as well.”
This storyline will be interesting to follow as we enter the All-Star break and get closer to the July 31 trade deadline. I will have any news on moves or rumors of moves right here at Bleacher Report, so check back periodically between now and then.
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