The Arizona Diamondbacks aren't doing so hot this season. They are sitting at 23-35, with a firm grasp on last place in the National League West. Their run differential of -64 is the worst in the major leagues. With the recent hiring of Tony La Russa as Chief Baseball Officer, it is all but certain that heads will roll in the front office sooner or later.
Over the past few seasons, Diamondbacks General Manager Kevin Towers has made a lot of trades. Some of his moves have met with success, such as snagging Brad Ziegler and Aaron Hill. However, the majority of Towers' trades have turned out poorly for the Diamondbacks, pillaging them of young, cost-controlled talent. Here's a look at the young talent which the Diamondbacks have dealt away under the Towers regime.
Trevor Bauer was selected third overall out of UCLA in 2011. The hard-throwing right-hander put up some impressive strikeout numbers in the minor leagues before the Diamondbacks called him up in 2012. While he displayed his strikeout stuff, he also walked 13 hitters in four starts and 16.1 innings before being shipped back to the minor leagues. Bauer ranked as the #9 overall prospect by Baseball America prior to the 2012 season, and slotted in at #14 before the 2013 season. However, the D-Backs sent him to the Cleveland Indians as part of a three-team deal in which they netted relief pitcher Tony Sipp and shortstop Didi Gregorius, a slick fielder with a questionable bat who BA ranked #80 entering the 2013 season. Sipp was designated for assignment last August. Gregorius got off to a hot start with the big league club last May but then tailed off, finishing with a .252/.332/.373 line and 1.3 fWAR in 404 plate appearances. He lost his starting job to Chris Owings before the 2014 season. Meanwhile, Bauer has an impressive 30.5 percent strikeout rate in four starts for the Indians this season, while keeping the walks under control. With a four pitch mix that is headlined by mid to upper 90s heat, the talented hurler appears to have put things together.
Tyler Skaggs and Adam Eaton were sent to the Los Angeles Angels and Chicago White Sox, respectively in a three-team swap in which the Diamondbacks received Mark Trumbo. Eaton, a former 19th round draft pick, cracked the BA top 100 at #73 before the 2013 season, Skaggs, who was acquired from the Angels in the Haren trade, was a top 15 prospect before the 2012 and 2013 seasons. After posting poor numbers in 13 starts made in 2012 and 2013, the big left-hander has emerged as a solid starter for the Angels in 2014, posting a 95 xFIP- thanks to a revived fastball.
Through his first 545 major league plate appearances, Eaton has been just a shade above replacement level. Still, he has a good minor league track record and possesses good speed and contact skills. He projects as at least a 4th outfielder and possibly an average regular. Trumbo, who is currently on the disabled list, hit seven home runs in his first 21 games with his new team. Unfortunately, he also had a miserable .264 on-base percentage and graded out as exactly replacement level. He's a +2 win player, and an expensive one at that thanks to his ability to do things the arbitration system puts a high price on.
Jarrod Parker, the 9th overall pick of the 2007 draft, was traded to the Oakland Athletics in December of 2011 along with Ryan Cook and Collin Cowgill in exchange for Trevor Cahill. Parker spent five straight seasons in the BA top 100, topping out at #26 before the 2012 season. Cahill, who had two seasons with FIP and xFIP right around the major league average under his belt, had a solid 2012 season with the Diamondbacks, posting 2.9 fWAR in 32 starts. He spent time on the DL in 2013 and managed just 0.9 fWAR, and has been relegated to the bullpen after four disastrous starts to begin the 2014 season. Before he went under the knife and was sidelined for all of 2013, Parker amassed 4.8 fWAR in two seasons with the A's starting rotation.
David Holmberg was originally acquired by the Diamondbacks along with Daniel Hudson in the Edwin Jackson trade. Hudson had a very good 2011 season, but has made just nine starts since then. Holmberg rose quickly through the Diamondbacks minor league system, and was listed as one of their top ten prospects. He made one start with the big league club as a 22 year-old last season, which went poorly. Last winter he was shipped to the Cincinnati Reds in a three-team deal in which the Diamondbacks acquired salary relief from Heath Bell's contract. The player to be named later, Todd Glaesmann, which Towers stated was key to the deal, retired before the season began.
Matt Davidson, the 35th overall pick by the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft, has been ranked in BA's top 100 for the last four seasons, topping at #72 this year. The 23 year-old corner infielder has produced good power numbers in the minors, and had a decent 31 game stint with Arizona last season. Towers sent him to the White Sox in exchange for closer Addison Reed. There's a lot of swing and miss in Davidson's game, and he's struggled at Triple-A to this point. Still, that's a high price to pay for a "proven" closer that will become arbitration eligible this offseason and owns a career 101 ERA-.
Those aren't the only trades that have turned out poorly. Here's a summary of the major trade additions and subtractions that Towers has made.
Added: Addison Reed, Mark Trumbo, Brandon Jacobs, A.J. Schugel, Todd Glaesmann, Justin Choate, Matt Stites, Joe Thatcher, Randall Delgado, Martin Prado, Zeke Spruill, Didi Gregorius, Tony Sipp, Matt Reynolds, Cliff Pennington, Heath Bell, Craig Breslow, Trevor Cahill, Aaron Hill and Brad Ziegler.
Traded: Matt Davidson, Adam Eaton, Tyler Skaggs, Heath Bell, David Holmberg, Ian Kennedy, Chris Johnson, Justin Upton, Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw, Trevor Bauer, Chris Young, Ryan Cook, Collin Cowgill, Jarrod Parker, Kelly Johnson and Jordan Norberto.
In sum, the players Towers traded away have accumulated 23 fWAR, while the players he traded for have totaled 18 fWAR. That's somewhat of a crude way of measuring how well the trades have worked out, and on its face that doesn't look so bad. But, considering that Towers has traded away promising young players and the years of team control that accompany them, it's so much worse.
The Diamondbacks won the NL West in their first year under Towers, but things have gone downhill from there. Not only are they headed towards a last-place finish, but they've mortgaged their future to do so.
Chris Moran is a Featured Writer at Beyond The Box Score.