Making significant roster decisions based on small sample sizes goes against everything Mike Hazen has been brought up in the game believing. But with a 162-game season shrunk down to 60 games and Monday's 1 p.m. MST Trade Deadline looming, the D-backs' general manager has no choice.
And while the D-backs looked to be sure buyers as recently as 10 days ago, an eight-game losing streak has made Hazen far more cautious about buying and possibly more open to selling.
“The losses do get magnified this season,” Hazen said. “As much as eight playoff spots do give you a little bit of a lifeline on the back end of that, you do have to be mindful of the decisions that we’re making if we’re five games under .500.”
An important wrinkle to this year’s Deadline is that teams can only trade players who are part of their 60-man player pool (assigned either to the big league team or the alternate training site). Clubs are permitted to include players to be named later in trades, however. Additionally, scouts have not been allowed to attend games in person, so all assessments of prospects have been done based on provided video and data and past knowledge.
Sell if the price is right. After their recent slide to last place in the National League West by 2 1/2 games, Hazen has pumped the brakes a bit when it comes to buying and has become more open-minded to selling. The D-backs are not trying to shed salary, so it wouldn’t be a fire sale, nor are they in a rebuilding mode. So don’t look for them to move any core pieces, but more likely a player who is heading into free agency.
What they want
Hazen always searches for bullpen help at the Deadline, believing that clubs can never have enough relief depth. It’s certainly a part of the team that could use some help, as the club has had trouble finding a consistent bridge to closer Archie Bradley. The D-backs could also look for some pop off the bench, particularly from the right side, since most of their power hitters are lefties. If they do decide to trade an impending free agent, then they could look at getting a prospect back.
What they have to offer
The D-backs have a treasure trove of prospects, but it is extremely unlikely that they will dip into that pool ahead of this year’s Deadline. The only way they'll do that is if it’s for a player who will be a big piece of their team going forward, and that seems unlikely given the current environment. If Arizona wants to get something for free-agent-to-be Robbie Ray, it could make him available. How much of a return he would bring given his struggles and free-agency status remain a question mark.
Chance of a deal
50-50. While the chances of a big deal seem unlikely, there has not been a Deadline yet under Hazen where the club hasn’t made a move. He is extremely creative, so it’s hard to rule anything out.