So far this season, the Diamondbacks have easily been the game's busiest team on the trade market, already making four separate deals this season. In May, they made respective deals with the Royals and Indians to acquire right-handed relievers Carlos Rosa and Saul Rivera to shore up the bullpen. This month, they've added lefty Dontrelle Willis to their rotation from the Tigers, and yesterday they traded former cornerstone Conor Jackson to the A's in exchange for right-hander Sam Demel, another young power reliever.
In their first four trades, the plan seemed relatively clear: keep building for 2011, but try to shore up that train wreck of a pitching staff now simply because it's an embarrassment to the organization. But who else could Arizona look to move? The team has already said that there's a good chance that they'll make more deals this summer, and few teams should have more appealing pieces to put on the market this summer than Arizona. So many, in fact, that I've decided to split up this post between the pitchers and position players. We'll go over the position players here today, and then finish everything off with the pitchers tomorrow.
Obviously, right fielder Justin Upton is untouchable, and Jon Heyman reported last week that, along with Upton, right-handed starter Ian Kennedy was also off-limits in trade talks as well. But there's still a whole lot of talent on the roster beyond those two, so let's dive in and cover the guys that are really worth keeping an eye on here.
2B Kelly Johnson - Owed $1.41M for 2010, arbitration-eligible (Arb-3) in 2011
One of the best free-agent signings in recent memory, the Diamondbacks landed Johnson for just one year and $2.35M after he was non-tendered by Atlanta. He's come on in a big way this season, his 2.2 WAR mark is among the top 5 in baseball among second baseman, and he's been the NL's best offensive second baseman so far this season, too.
Johnson has just been a totally different hitter so far this season, flashing power and patience like never before. In the two years preceding this season, Johnson put up 8.5-9.5% walk rates and isolated power's between .155 and .165. Those are fine numbers for a middle infielder, but they've been dwarfed by the 2010's version of KJ. That version is currently showing off a 14% walk rate and a .260 isolated power, both of which are well above the league average.
Even with a glove that grades out as slightly below average, Johnson should be one of the most appealing players on the market. Not only is he flashing an impact bat at a premium defense position along with a cheap price tag, but whoever acquires him will have him under control for 2011, too, so we aren't just talking about a rental here. If Arizona is hoping to land some quality young talent in their summer deals, dealing Johnson wouldn't be a bad place to start. Presumably, Ryan Roberts would return to being the primary second baseman with Johnson's departure, although Tony Abreu could very well get an extended look as well.
1B Adam LaRoche - Owed $3.59M for 2010, with 2011 mutual option at $6M net
LaRoche came to Arizona in a similar manner to Johnson, accepting a one-year deal in free agency after failing to get superior offers. Known for his cool starts and monster second halves, LaRoche has been solid for the D-Backs so far this season. With LaRoche, you pretty much know what you're gonna have by the end of the season: 25-30 homers, a .270-280 BA, .345-.355 OBP, and what amounts to essentially league average performance for an everyday first baseman.
He'll go through periods where he sets the world on fire and you wonder why he can't just maintain that all year, but he's been a remarkably consistent player over the first six seasons of his career. He's certainly no Mark Teixeira, but he's definitely a guy that can make a difference down the stretch. ZiPS projects LaRoche to actually improve for the remainder of the season, with a .377 wOBA that would almost match his career-high from 2006. That kind of performance would have some serious value for a contending team, especially one in desperate need of some pop in their lineup.
He's relegated to either first base or designated hitter unfortunately, which will surely limit his value, but even so his bat is one that should end up marketing itself. Considering he's owed less than $4M for the rest of this season and whoever adds him can opt to retain him for next season for $6M, it wouldn't be surprising to see a few teams show some serious interest in him. Plus, the D-Backs have Brandon Allen in Triple-A, so they already have a replacement in-house, too.
C Chris Snyder - owed $2.84M for 2010, $6.75M in 2011, and has $6M club option for 2012
Snyder has been in trade rumors for a while, as Miguel Montero emerged as the team's primary backstop. After putting up a couple solid seasons as the team's main catcher, Snyder signed a three-year contract extension with the club before the 2009 season. He battled with injuries and eventually lost his job to Montero, though, and he was nearly dealt to Toronto over the offseason.
He's been healthier this season, though, and has been getting the bulk of the playing time while Montero has been on the disabled list. And Snyder's shown so far that he's still the same player that he was in 2008: good power, tons of walks, but a high strikeout total and a low BABIP. It was good for roughly average offensive performance in 2006-2008, and it's been good for that once again in 2010.
ZiPS projects Snyder to put up a .342 wOBA the rest of the way, which is the seventh-best mark for an NL catcher and makes him a very useful player going forward. Any team in need of catching help should probably at least see what the Diamondbacks have to say here.
CF Chris Young - owed $1.95M for 2010, $22M for 2011-2013, $9.5M club option for 2014
Given a contract extension after his breakout 32-homer, 27-steal rookie season in 2007, Young did nothing but disappoint over the next two years. A decent-but-not-great defender in center, Young struggled with making consistent contact and saw his power suffer some as well, making him a distinctly below average hitter. He showed flashes of breaking out of it, like September 2008 and June 2009, but he still grappled with a subpar approach at the plate and an inability to make contact.
In 2010, though, Young has actually shown signs of learning and improving. He's still flashing off his plus power and speed (12 homers, 11 steals in 64 games), but he's actually showing some more patience and his batted ball profile looks much more like it did in 2007 than 2008 or 2009. He's hitting less infield flies than ever before, which has done wonders to his BABIP, and he's gotten his strikeout rate back in check, at slightly under 25% compared to a mark over 30% last season. And he's flashing a positive UZR compared to his -2.4 UZR/150 for his career, which is more in line with DRS, which has consistently graded Young's defense as above average.
He's currently sporting a .368 wOBA, which along with his above average defense in center has been good for a 2.0 WAR so far, making him one of the better center fielders in baseball so far. ZiPS projects some handy regression but a still solid .342 wOBA for the rest of the season. It's not clear if Arizona has any particular interest in moving Young and the money owed to him, but he's making things a lot easier with his play this season.
I'm not really sure if it's worth going into detail with these guys, as I don't find it particularly likely that any of them will be moved. Reynolds, Montero and Drew are three of the team's best players and all of them are under team control through 2012. And without any obvious internal replacements in the minor leagues, it seems likely that they'll be sticking around beyond 2010. As for Parra, it's not clear that he profiles to hit for enough power in left field, but one of the motivations for dealing Conor Jackson was to make room for him so they could see exactly what they have. He was regarded as pretty much their No. 2 prospect as recently as last season, so it doesn't seem particularly likely that they would have interest in moving him.