Diamondbacks Get Two for One in Blockbuster Trade

When the Arizona Diamondbacks representatives left for the Winter Meetings in Indianapolis they took with them a war chest of roughly $10 million and a laundry list of needs to fill on their roster. Given their financial position they were not expected to be major players during the meetings.

Instead the expectation was that Arizona would talk to several clubs and perhaps meet with the representatives of the second and third tier free agents on the market. It was therefore somewhat a surprise to hear the Diamondbacks mentioned in so many rumors from day one of the meetings.

General Manager Josh Byrnes has shown that he is not afraid to wheel and deal and this year seems to be no exception. Two years ago the groundwork was laid to bring Dan Haren to the desert. In exchange he gave up six promising young players.

With the graduation of many of the Diamondbacks young prospects to the major leagues coupled with the Haren deal the farm system had become somewhat depleted. So when there were rumors that Arizona was active in the trade market it had many scratching their heads.

The Diamondbacks needed to fill a spot in their starting rotation behind co-aces Brandon Webb and Haren to pitch behind number three starter Max Scherzer. Byrnes had made numerous comments suggesting he would prefer to trade for a starter rather than sign a free agent. The only question was whether the team had the chips necessary to work a deal.

Perhaps one of the worst kept secrets in baseball was the Diamondbacks desire to obtain right-handed pitcher Edwin Jackson from the Detroit Tigers. Jackson has shown promise in his young career and had a great upside. He would be a good fit for the Diamondbacks rotation.

Arizona has been dangling outfielder Eric Byrnes and catcher Chris Snyder in the trade market but neither of them would be sufficient to obtain a starting pitcher. If they were going to be successful in their quest for another starter it would take something much more creative.

That creativity displayed itself when the Diamondbacks began talking to the Tigers and the New York Yankees for potentially a three-way deal that would net each club the players they needed.

The framework of the deal would send Tigers outfielder Curtis Granderson to the Yankees. The Tigers would send Jackson to the Diamondbacks. The question was, what could Arizona offer.

The deal began to morph when the Diamondbacks offered to send young flamethrower Max Scherzer to the Tigers. This of course created another hole in the Diamondbacks starting rotation making you wonder why Arizona would do such a thing.

The Yankees then included promising young pitcher Ian Kennedy to the Diamondbacks. New York would also send outfield prospect Austin Jackson and relief pitcher Phil Coke to the Tigers. Arizona would send left-handed pitcher Daniel Schlereth to the Tigers.

The deal has been agreed upon in principle and now the teams are pouring over medical records to ensure all the pieces have a clear history. This is especially important to the Diamondbacks as Ian Kennedy is recovering from surgery last May for an aneurism under his pitching arm.

If the deal is completed and it appears likely it will be, the Diamondbacks starting rotation will be Brandon Webb, Dan Haren, Edwin Jackson, Ian Kennedy, and a fifth starter likely to be one of Bryan Augenstein/Billy Buckner/Kevin Mulvey.

This would give the Diamondbacks three former all-stars at the top of their rotation and give them additional financial security through 2011 when Jackson is eligible to become a free agent. It would also relieve some of the confusion in the bullpen by eliminating one of the left-handers that were to battle for a roster spot out of Spring Training.

Perhaps as importantly, this deal allows the Diamondbacks to use the $10 million they had available to find a first baseman/bench player to shore up the offense or pursue another veteran reliever for the struggling bullpen.

There will undoubtedly be Diamondbacks fans grumbling that the team let yet another young player exit Arizona. Max Scherzer is definitely a player who has the potential to be an impact at the major league level.

Since his arrival at the major league level there have been questions whether Scherzer was better suited to be a reliever or a starter. If the answer ended up being reliever then Arizona would be forced to look for two starters instead of one. With this trade that problem is resolved.

When comparing Edwin Jackson and Max Scherzer it should be noted that Jackson is much more efficient with his pitch count going deeper into games. With a young and struggling bullpen this will pay huge dividends throughout the season.

From that perspective the Diamondbacks look to be in better shape with Jackson as their third starter than Scherzer. And given the price point starting pitchers are getting in the open market it didn’t appear Arizona would be able to get a number four starter without using all their $10 million leaving nothing for the bullpen or the offense.

If Arizona can somehow find a first baseman and reliever with the money they have, Diamondbacks fans should have a lot more fun watching this team next season despite the departure of Mad Max.



  1. Diary of a Diehard » Blog Archive » Final Thoughts on the Winter Meetings - [...] the exception of ”The Trade” this year’s Winter Meetings were fairly uneventful. There were a few minor deals but…

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