Though known for his aggressive disposition in the major league marketplace, Diamondbacks’ general manager Kevin Towers is not likely to pull the trigger on a significant deal this week.
With the trading deadline at 4 p.m. Eastern time Wednesday, Towers maintains the reputation of pulling out last minutes deals.
That may, or may not, be the case, but the transactions are considered to merely tweak the current Arizona roster and not to construct a major make-over.
“I like our team, and I like the clubhouse culture,” Towers said before Sunday’s game at Chase Field with San Diego. “We have good chemistry on this team, and I don’t want to mess with that. I don’t believe in making trades for the sake of making trades.”
That means, the Diamondbacks, as presently constructed, are pretty much set for the final two months of the season.
While Towers admits the D-backs are clearly in the middle of the National League West Division race, he is also the first to acknowledge the delicate balance among players and how well interchangeable parts actually function.
“More moves are made in the off-season and that’s by choice,” he said. “When you’re pressured with a deadline like now, things generally do not turn out so well.”
In the recent off-season, Towers engineered two significant deals, and each made an impact.
First, the D-backs picked up infielder Martin Prado and pitcher Randall Delgado from Atlanta for Justin Upton and Chris Johnson. Then, Towers traded rookie right-hander Trevor Bauer as part of a three team deal and Arizona picked up shortstop Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.
If Towers is true to his word, there will not a major, block-buster deal but one which involves a player of a few years experience.
“Deals at this time involve guys with four, five, six years in the majors,” said Bud Black, the San Diego manager. “It’s rare for a team to give up on a first or second year player and they usually find little interest in teams going after guys at the end of their careers.”
One example here is the case of Brad Ziegler, the current D-backs closer.
Towers acquired Ziegler at the trading deadline two years ago. That’s when the D-backs sent first baseman Brandon Allen and left-handed reliever Jordan Norberto to Oakland for Ziegler.
At the time, Ziegler had pitched for the A’s in parts of four seasons, and clearly fell under Black’s criteria of the kind of player attractive in a trade.
Since his arrival in the desert, Ziegler has been one of the most effective relievers in the game. The 6-4 veteran of Pratt, Kan. leads all relievers, since 2008, in ground ball double plays.
With implosion of traditional closers this season, Ziegler has now assume that role, and his value to the Diamondbacks continues to increase.
That’s the kind of player whom Towers believes is out there, but insists he will not pull trigger merely for headlines. “If we’re trading a player whom we hold highly, the player or players we get in return must have a significant impact on our team,” Towers added.
As Towers approaches the trading deadline, he remains in the market for a left-handed reliever. That’s to complement Tony Sipp and essentially replace Matt Reynolds, who could be lost for the season with strained left elbow. Reynolds has been on the DL since June 10, and has an 0-2 mark, and an effective 1.98 ERA in 30 appearances.
Still, Towers, and his war-room comrades of CEO Derrick Hall and front office personnel holed up in a Tampa hotel room, will listen when the phone rings.
“We have an open mind and will entertain all callers,” Towers said. “Yes, we could be both a buyer and seller.”
THE ROAD AHEAD
The Diamondbacks open a six game road trip Tuesday night in Tampa against the American League East Division-leading Rays.
Struggling right-hander Ian Kennedy (3-7, 5.22 ERA) takes on righty Roberto Hernandez (5-11, 4.50 ERA). Only three D-backs have a history with Hernandez. Aaron Hill is hitting .235 (4-for-17), Jason Kubel is hitting .368 (14-for-38, three home runs) and Cliff Pennington is hitting .300 (6-for 20).
On Wednesday night, lefty Wade Miley (7-8, 3.86 ERA) opposes right-hander Jeremy Hellickson (10-3, 4,48 ERA).
Then, it’s on to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Thursday night for a make-up game with the Texas Rangers. The trip concludes this weekend in Fenway Park for three against the Boston Red Sox.
For all these games, the Diamondbacks will use the Designated Hitter, and a consequence which manager Kirk Gibson said he will be well prepared.
“We’ll be ready,” he assured listeners. “I’ll probably use Jason Kubel, Eric Chavez and possibly Paul Goldschmidt. Goldy’s struggling lately and I’ll give him some time off in the field. That would be pretty good use of the DH.”