The Arizona Diamondbacks fancy themselves quite the trading partner this offseason.
“We’re in pretty good shape,” Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers told Nick Piecoro. “I think we’re kind of an attractive trade partner. Our depth is in the middle of the infield and in center field, and there’s a lot of need at those particular spots, as well. We tend to match up well with most ballclubs.”
Towers told Piecoro he believes the D-Backs match up well with four or five teams this offseason, and discussions have already started with those teams about possible trades. Piecoro immediately speculates – wisely, I’d think – that the Chicago Cubs are among those four or five teams, given the Diamondbacks’ desire to add a starting pitcher, and the presence of Jeff Samardzija. Rumors connecting the Diamondbacks and Cubs on a Jeff Samardzija deal date back to July, and have popped back up again in recent weeks.
Piecoro adds, however, that Samardzija might not be the only Cub interesting Arizona. Given the need for a corner outfield bat, Piecoro wonders if Nate Schierholtz could come up.
Schierholtz would certainly be an attractive trade target for teams, coming of a 107 OPS+ season in which he hit 21 homers in 463 at bats. He’s set to get an increase in arbitration for the 2014 season (he made $2.25 million in 2013), but he’ll be paid well under his market value. Of course, that all makes him equally attractive to the Cubs, who don’t presently have a right fielder available to replace Schierholtz (unless, of course, they’re ready to go with a Lake-Sweeney-Bogusevic outfield, seeking to challenge the Astros for the top pick in 2015).
The Diamondbacks, right now, have four starting-ish outfielders in Adam Eaton, Gerardo Parra, A.J. Pollock, and Cody Ross. The first three are best suited, offensively, to center field, and there’s not much thump to speak of. (Though they do have Tony Campana standing at the ready.) Neither Eaton (24) nor Pollock (25) quite broke through last year as the Diamondbacks had hoped, and it would be interesting to see whether they’d consider moving one of them at a reduced price. From the Cubs’ perspective, given the lack of immediate impact depth at the upper levels of the minors in the outfield, maybe a guy like Eaton is worth taking a chance on.
As for the Diamondbacks’ depth in the middle infield, that probably isn’t of much interest to the Cubs, given that they’ve got a fair bit of depth there, themselves. The D-Backs are well-stocked with young pitching and pitching prospects, though, so that’s where your eye would wander while putting together a hypothetical deal. There are the elite arms like Archie Bradley and Tyler Skaggs, but also decent arms like David Holmberg, Zeke Spruill, Andrew Chafin, and more.
While I’m not sold on the Cubs dealing either Samardzija or Schierholtz this offseason (especially when the Cubs could keep them, take an organizational temperature in June, and then deal them – if necessary – in July), a package of the two could probably bring a substantial return.