Every year there always seems to be a big move or two happen during the MLB offseason as we approach Thanksgiving. And 2016 is no different, as the Seattle Mariners and Arizona Diamondbacks pulled off a very interesting trade on Wednesday night, just hours before the clock struck Thanksgiving. The Diamondbacks sent shortstop Jean Segura, outfielder Mitch Haniger and pitcher Zac Curtis to Seattle, with starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte going back to the desert.
This marks the first major move for the new look Diamonbacks front office. Following some disastrous moves made by the old regime, the team decided to make some major changes this winter. It started with the firing of former GM Dave Stewart, and the demotion of Tony LaRussa to a less significant role. And then the team raided the Boston Red Sox front office. Mike Hazen was brought in to be the team’s new executive vice president as well as general manager, with Jared Porter and Amiel Sawdaye also brought aboard to be his right hand men. The team also took Torey Lovullo from Boston, and will be running the team on the field as their new manager, with Chip Hale getting the boot this winter following a 69-93 season.
With this one move, Hazen and the new crew have announced their arrival, as this is a deal that is totally different from how Stewart did things last year. To further understand how this move makes this new front office standout, let’s first take a look at what Stewart did a season ago.
Last winter saw the Daimondbacks become one of the most aggressive teams in all of MLB. They made three very bold moves, that made the statement that the club was going for it. It all started with the Zack Greinke sweepstakes. For weeks, it was rumored that the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants were battling back and forth for the 32 right hander. Then on December 8th, the Diamondbacks came out of nowhere, and gave Greinke an insane six year, 206.5 million dollar deal.
The very next day, the team continued to add to its starting rotation. The club gave up four young players to acquire Shelby Miller. The team gave up their recent first overall pick, shortstop Dansby Swanson, in what was hands down the most jaw dropping decision of the winter. And that wasn’t even the end of it, as promising young ourfielder Ender Inciarte, top pitching prospect Aaron Blair and pitching prospect Gabe Speier also went from Arizona to Atlanta in the deal.
Finally, on February 1st, the team traded for shortstop Jean Segura from the Milwaukee Brewers. The team gave up three players to bring Segura to the desert.
Of those three moves, two of them were clear head scratchers from the time they happened. It did not help when both big pitching acquisitions struggled in their first season for Arizona. Greinke would win 13 games, but pitch to a 4.37 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in what was a season that surely did not live up to his contract. As for Miller, he was brutally awful, and Diamondbacks fans were asking for a refund only a few starts in. He ended with a 3-12 record, a 6.15 ERA and 1.67 WHIP over the course of 101 innings.
Segura on the other hand, enjoyed a career year with the DBacks. He hit .319, slugged 20 homers, stole 33 bases and scored 102 runs. He was hands down one of the brightest spots in what was a season to forget in the desert of Phoenix. And now he is gone.
Yet despite moving one of the team’s best players from 2016, the new execs are making a bold statement that shows they are willing to take this team in the correct direction. It is a move that shows a drastic change in philosophy from the old regime, and one that shows they want to distance themselves from Stewart and his guys.
First things first, it shows the initiative to bring in young, talented players with some serious upside, and years of control. Walker is a former top prospect who is still only 24 (25 come the 2017 season) years old. He has yet to reach his full potential in Seattle, but he did battle a foot injury and showed plenty of promise. He strikes out roughly eight batters per nine, throws in the mid 90’s and now moves to the National League. He is under control for at least three more seasons, and has the potential to become the ace of the staff.
Marte is a 23 year old shortstop that the Mariners were very fast to give up on. Before last season he had shown plenty of potential as a switch hitter, but then he got hurt. He only batted .259, and did not do much with the bat in 2016, but has shown potential in the minors, and has not had much MLB time. Given his young age, he has the potential to blossom in the next few years.
The key piece departing was one of Stewart’s key acquisitions last year. That is no accident, as Hazen looks to move past last year’s debacle. The Greinke signing was one that saw a massive amount of money go to a guy on the wrong side of 30. The Miller trade saw the team give up an arm, a leg and their soul to bring in one player. This trade did none of that.
This was a move that capitalized off a career year of a player who had not shown that hitting potential prior, and resulted in two young guys who have serious upside. They did not sell the farm, and they did not commit a ton of money to a single player. Yet at the end of the day, this was a winning move. A move that could not only benefit them in 2017, but for years to come.
So make no mistakes, this new look front office in Arizona is ready to put their mark on this team. And this move surely makes a clear statement. One that should have Diamondback fans everywhere excited.
For more on the Diamondbacks and their new front office, be sure to check out INSC’s very own Jarrah Vella-Wright’s take on the club right here.