Diamondbacks kick off commercial season by moving Tim Locastro, but don’t expect timeliness overhaul – The Athletic

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July was only a few hours old when the trading season began in Arizona.

Considering how the first three months have unfolded – a record 22-60, in pace with 119 franchise losses – it’s hardly surprising that the Diamondbacks were able to strike a deal so early in the season. the great exchange meeting which is the fourth month of the baseball calendar. It was 9 a.m. in Arizona when news broke that reserve outfielder Tim Locastro, speedster and plunk-loving extraordinary, was heading for the Yankees. In exchange, the Diamondbacks received a 25-year-old right-hander named Keegan Curtis with a big fastball and a sterling Double-A strikeout rate.

As for the “open for business” announcements, they lacked spice, more aperitif than appetizer. More deals, involving bigger names, will come as the Diamondbacks question their insanely bad team and determine what to keep, what to return and how to turn Major League Baseball’s worst club into a winner. But just because the Diamondbacks hit early doesn’t mean they’ll hit often in July, at least not as often as some fans expect.

“I don’t think we want a full teardown,” Diamondbacks assistant general manager Amiel Sawdaye said.

It wouldn’t be difficult to argue for a teardown if the Diamondbacks wanted one. A year and a half ago, entering the 2020 season, they committed significant resources to a core that had won 85 games the previous year. They signed Madison Bumgarner and Kole Calhoun and traded for Starling Marte. That year, in a season truncated by the pandemic, they scored a disappointing 25-35. Marte was traded on the deadline, but the Diamondbacks said they would otherwise roll back the same roster in hopes she would perform better in 162 games than she did in 60.

The speed at which this experience crashed and burned was astounding. After hitting 15-13 in early May, the Diamondbacks entered Thursday after going 7-47 since. They set a franchise record for consecutive losses (17) and a modern big-league record for consecutive losses on the road (24). Their depth has been severely tested by injuries, especially to their rotation, but not enough to fully explain their spiral. This core, it seems, is light years away from being competitive, so why not execute a massive sell-off and start from scratch?

The Diamondbacks seem to think this list is more salvageable than it looks. While they are considering trades for some of their more obvious trading tokens (Eduardo Escobar, Asdrúbal Cabrera, Stephen Vogt) and even some with years of control remaining (David Peralta, Merrill Kelly, Caleb Smith), they have no given no indication that they are ready to move their most valuable pieces such as Ketel Marte, Carson Kelly and Zac Gallen.

“You’re probably going to see a lot of the same players (on the squad in 2022),” Sawdaye said. They will be there “because we feel like they’re a big part of this team and we always feel like there’s good about them. “

Frankly, it would be difficult for the Diamondbacks to completely demolish this month, even if they wanted to. For one thing, their one-season abomination left them of little interest to suitors. Even if they wanted to move Marte or Kelly, both are on the injured list and might not be back before the July 30 deadline. The same goes for Luke Weaver and Kole Calhoun. Other obvious pieces, such as Peralta and Nick Ahmed, struggled and thus diminished their commercial value. If all were healthy and performing, the Diamondbacks could really strengthen their farming system. Then again, if these players were healthy and performing, the Diamondbacks could win much more often.

But even if they had a ton to offer and the motivation to offer it, the deadline is a tough time to have a closing sale. “It’s a lot easier to say, ‘Oh, just tear it up and put it back together,’” Sawdaye said. “It’s not that easy to do that.” Buyers have acute needs and are more desperate at maturity, but fewer and what they have to offer in return is limited by the competitive needs of the present. During the offseason, there are more dance partners and the Diamondbacks could work the floor a little more. “I think there might be a different dynamic at play in the offseason than there might be in the next three or four weeks,” Sawdaye said.

But that might not suggest off-season teardown as much as off-season retooling. While the Diamondbacks are likely to trade some of their rare positive backers over the next month, Sawdaye believes Arizona will be more competitive than less in the future. “We’re probably going to take some of these guys out at some point,” he said, “but our hope is that we have guys under that step up and continue to play well and go from there. before.” To some extent, Thursday’s exchange was an acknowledgment of what had already happened.

With the emergence of Pavin Smith and Josh Rojas, playing time was becoming hard to come by for Locastro, who had only hit 0.178. The Diamondbacks thought Locastro would be a big part of their squad in 2021, but he was on track for just more home plate appearances than the 250 he received in 2019. There are more young Diamondbacks outfielder. approaching the majors, and it was becoming increasingly difficult to imagine a future in which Locastro played a significant role. Despite his three years of control remaining, he was expendable.

Looking at the landscape of the National League West – with the Giants surprisingly good, and the Dodgers and Padres on the verge of being contenders for several years – you could argue that almost everyone on the Diamondbacks list should be consumable. But Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen has often spoken of his distaste for the concept of rebuilding and his preference for releasing a product each year that has a chance to compete. That this version of the product hasn’t, in his opinion, called more for an offseason reshuffle than sitting down with multiple hands while the high draft picks roll season after season.

There will be more trades this month, but their reach could be limited by Arizona’s reluctance to trade in its hottest products and the relative lack of value of other products on its shelves. “I don’t see a major transformation from our current roster,” Sawdaye said. That’s not to say that a blockbuster won’t come true – “Anything can happen,” the deputy general manager said – but the Diamondbacks don’t see a deal like this as a matter of necessity.

Either way, the next trade will say more about the Diamondbacks’ timing intentions than they did on Thursday. As to when that might be, that remains to be seen. Sawdaye said: “I wouldn’t say anything is imminent.”

(Photo: Chris Bernacchi / Diamond Images via Getty Images)

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