D-backs trade Ziegler to Red Sox for 2 Minor Leaguers
SAN FRANCISCO -- Given the D-backs' struggles on the field, closer Brad Ziegler knew there was a good chance he could be dealt before the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but the right-hander was not expecting it to happen Friday night.
But in the bottom of the seventh inning of a 6-2 loss to the Giants, Ziegler was told that Arizona manager Chip Hale wanted to see him in the visiting manager's office at AT&T Park.
Waiting for him there were Hale and general manager Dave Stewart, who delivered the news that Ziegler had been dealt to the Red Sox in exchange for Minor Leaguers Jose Almonte and Luis Alejandro Basabe.
Ziegler will be a free agent at the end of the season.
"At this point, we're past midseason, [and] we've had minimal talk with Zig and his team about whether we have the ability to bring him back," Stewart said. "And with no real certainty whether we're going to bring him back on a multiple year deal, we just decided that we'd be able to get some pretty good prospects for him."
Almonte, 20, was 2-2 with a 3.91 ERA in 10 starts for Class A Greenville this year.
Basabe, 19, appeared in 63 games with Greenville and hit .311 with 16 doubles, four triples and four home runs. He was named an All-Star in the South Atlantic League.
"They're young prospects, really good young prospects," Stewart said. "You can look at the numbers and you can see that these are going to be Major League players. Not soon -- I mean, they're 19 and 20 years old, but you never know. They have the ability to get there. They're going to be great players in our system and we expect them to be in the big leagues."
While the D-backs are not planning on moving any of their core players, the trade of Ziegler, as well as the fact that setup man Daniel Hudson is likely available via trade, is a recognition of the long odds they face when it comes to getting back into the postseason hunt.
Hudson, like Ziegler, will be a free agent at season's end.
"We're still looking to compete," Stewart said. "We're still looking to play competitive baseball. This is not a case where we're throwing in the flag at all."
With Ziegler gone in Arizona, Hudson and Tyler Clippard appear in line to receive save opportunities. Clippard has saved 54 games over his 10 year career, including 32 games with the Nationals in 2012. Meanwhile Hudson has just five saves in seven seasons.
Ziegler, who came to the D-backs in a deadline deal in 2011, left open the possibility that he could return as a free agent during the offseason.
"As soon as the offseason starts, it's a clean start and I've got 30 teams I can negotiate with," Ziegler said. "I've got nothing negative to say about the organization, the franchise, the city, anything. They would definitely be something I would consider for sure."
Hale was disappointed to lose a closer, who converted a club-record 43 straight saves from May 29, 2015, through June 20, 2016, the seventh-longest streak in Major League Baseball history.
"It's hard," Hale said. "He's been so good for us in that closer's role, been a good Diamondback for a long time. I don't really have many words to say about it. It's just something that has to happen. It's partially we haven't played well enough to keep him. We should have played better and these things wouldn't be happening."
Fantasy spin | Fred Zinkie (@FredZinkieMLB)
For the next 3-6 weeks, Ziegler and Koji Uehara are expected to share ninth-inning duties as Craig Kimbrel works his way back from knee surgery. Neither replacement qualifies as an elite option, but they nonetheless can be added in 15-team mixed leagues. Back in Arizona, the D-backs are expected to hand ninth-inning duties to Clippard or Hudson. Those with roster room for just one of the two should add Clippard (3.06 ERA in '16), as the impending free-agent Hudson has struggled of late and could be dealt to a team in need of setup help this month.