As Good As Gone - Adam LaRoche
LaRoche was traded twice last July, so he is certainly a player that teams want for their stretch run. Although his .257 batting average, 14 homers, and 62 RBI are more solid than breathtaking, he was only at .247, 12, and 40 when the Pirates dealt him last July. Everyone knows by now that LaRoche is a second-half hitter, as evidenced by his career rate stat line of .299/.362/.542 after the All-Star break. LaRoche is also cheaper this year, making $4.6 million as opposed to the $7 million that Pittsburgh signed him for.
Still, the remainder of that $4.6 million is money that the D-backs do not want to pay for someone who turns 31 in November, will become a free agent at season's end, and has no chance of being classified as a Type-A free agent and landing the D-backs an extra draft pick when he opts for free agency. Furthermore, the D-backs have a replacement ready in Triple-A by the name of Brandon Allen. Since being slowed by injuries earlier in the summer, Allen has been on an absolute tear for the Aces, as he has belted eight home runs in the past seven days and raised his on-base percentage well over the .400 mark.
Interestingly, the Angels would have been an ideal fit for LaRoche. They could have used him to platoon at first base with the right-handed swinging Mike Napoli. But you have to figure that if the Angels were interested, LaRoche would have been included somehow in the Dan Haren deal. The White Sox are still desperate for a left-handed bat, and the Rangers might consider LaRoche after having traded Justin Smoak in order to obtain Cliff Lee earlier in the month.
Heilman is a bargain at $2.15 million this year and has been the Diamondbacks' most dependable bullpen piece over the course of the season. Still, the 31-year-old right-hander is free-agent eligible at the end of the year and could bring back some decent prospects from a contender. It would not be a popular move among a fan base that doesn't see any Arizona reliever with an ERA near Heilman's respectable mark of 3.60, but it would be a prudent move for the future of the organization.
The only reason that Qualls isn't listed along with LaRoche on the As Good As Gone list is that there may not be much interest out there for a right-handed reliever who is making over $4 million this year and has an ERA over 8.50. If they can't get a decent prospect in return for Qualls or at least dump most of his remaining salary, the D-backs may be well-served to stick with him, sign him at a reduced rate for 2011, and hope that Qualls returns to his 2009 form further removed from knee surgery.
The Angels, Red Sox, Phillies, and Yankees all have bullpen ERAs over 4.00 this year, and figure to bolster their relief corps at the deadline. The Reds do as well, but they appear to be grooming Aroldis Chapman as their in-house trade deadline acquisition for bullpen help.
Some people will be surprised to see Stephen Drew on this list, but Drew is a Scott Boras client. He will likely be pricey the next two seasons and there is almost no chance the D-backs will be able to afford Drew when he becomes a free agent after the 2012 season. Still, there is no rush to trade Drew, and it might behoove the team to wait until their shortstop hits a hot streak before trading him in order to maximize their return. The Tigers are the contender currently the most desperate for shortstop help, and they do not shy away from Boras clients in the slightest.
It is probably a one-but-not-both deal with Drew and second baseman Kelly Johnson. To trade one would allow an extended look for Tony Abreu at one of the middle infield spots. To trade both would expose a weakness in the middle infield ranks among the Diamondbacks' upper-level prospects. The Diamondbacks can only control Johnson's contract for one more year beyond 2010, but he is cheaper than Drew and is outperforming Drew. The other four NL West teams are all struggling to get production from their second basemen and would love to add Johnson's bat into their lineups not only for themselves, but to keep him away from the other three. The Mets could use some second base help as well.
Everyone thought Chris Snyder would have been traded by now, yet here he is. He proved himself to be valuable when Montero went on the disabled list, and the Diamondbacks may not want to part with Snyder now that Montero is slumping badly. Moreover, there is no denying that Snyder works better with pitchers than does Montero. Ian Kennedy had a 6.56 ERA in his four starts with Montero this year, but has a 3.71 ERA when working with Snyder. Barry Enright has a 3.78 ERA in three games with Montero, but it's 1.38 in two with Snyder. Since Kennedy and Enright figure to be key components of the Diamondbacks' rotation for years to come, Snyder may be more valuable to the D-backs than the meager returns they would likely receive in a trade. If they do decide to trade Snyder, the Red Sox, Mets, and Tigers are the most likely suitors.
Edwin Jackson is not a player the Diamondbacks are looking to deal, as he is young, relatively affordable, and not exactly filled with trade value with his ERA peeking over 5.00 right now. Given the state of their major league staff after the Haren maneuver, the D-backs can't afford to trade Jackson unless they are blown away by the major-league ready pitching prospects they would get in return. Most of the teams that have the young pitching to fill that requirement wouldn't need Jackson, so if he does leave Arizona, it will likely be in a three-way deal.
No one else on the Diamondbacks is likely to be traded. Many of the players listed here could still be packaged in August if a deal cannot be reached by the July 31st non-waiver deadline.
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