After getting widely criticized for a miniscule return for the talented Dan Haren, interim general manager Jerry Dipoto and the Arizona Diamondbacks did much better in their trade of struggling pitcher Edwin Jackson to the Chicago White Sox Friday.
Former GM Josh Byrnes and White Sox GM Kenny Williams had been extremely active trade partners over the years. They consummated trades that brought Chris Young, Orlando Hernandez, Brandon Allen, and to the desert, as well as supplying two of the prospects that the D-backs used in their original package to acquire Dan Haren from the Oakland A's in Chris Carter and Aaron Cunningham. It appears that Dipoto made use of the speed dial to Williams still active in his office phone, and in this case, got the better of the White Sox GM.
Edwin Jackson had led the National League in both earned runs and wild
pitches at the time of the deal. He lost his fourth consecutive start on
Wednesday and has gone 1-4 since his 149-pitch no-hitter on June 25. Jackson has
given up 22 earned runs and 38 hits with a 7.24 ERA in those five starts.
Wearing down in the second half is nothing new to Jackson, as he limped to a 5.45 ERA over the final two months of the 2009 season. His recent struggles would have figured to hurt his trade value, yet the D-backs were able to net the South Siders' two best pitching prospects for a pitcher who might have a dead arm and is due to make $8.35 million next season.
Daniel Hudson was the second-best prospect in the Sox' system overall heading into the season as ranked by Scout.com going into the season while Holmberg came in at #7. If anything, both pitchers have only added to their credentials since those rankings came out.
Hudson, 23, rose all the way from Low-A ball to the major leagues last season and was dominant in 17 starts at the Triple-A level this year. He went 11-4 with a 3.47 ERA and 108 strikeouts in 93.1 innings for the Charlotte Knights prior to replacing Jake Peavy in the White Sox rotation. While he had some command issues in his three starts with Chicago, he showcased a fastball that averaged 94 miles per hour and a power changeup that came in 10 mph slower. He also uses an upper-80s slider to right handed hitters. Ranked as the 46th-best prospect in all of baseball this winter, Hudson is the most promising pitcher of the six acquired by Arizona this week.
The left-handed David Holmberg turned 19 earlier this month, but is already pitching like a savvy veteran. He commands a four-pitch repertoire that has allowed him to fan more than three times as many batters as he has walked with the Great Falls Voyagers this year. Although those peripheral numbers have led to a 4.46 ERA, that mark was compiled in a league in which the average age for a pitcher was 21 and the average ERA was 4.54. Holmberg's 6-foot-4, 220-pound frame suggests that he can still add velocity to a fastball that only touches 90 mph at this point, which could allow him to succeed as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.
The Sox may yet trade Jackson to the Nationals in a package for Adam Dunn, which might make the deal look better on their end. On the other hand, that would leave them with a gaping hole at the fifth starter's slot just to acquire a player who might leave as a free agent in the winter.
From the Diamondbacks' perspective, this is a coup. Don't be surprised if Hudson outperforms Jackson for the remainder of the year. He is younger and much cheaper than Jackson is, making the future appear much brighter for the D-backs. Additionally, they got a prospect in Holmberg who is equal to any of the Angels prospects that the D-backs received for Dan Haren.
Basically, the early tally has Jerry Dipoto with a .500 winning percentage in
his two trades.
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