PHOENIX — After a 14-21 start to the 2020 shortened season, the Arizona Diamondbacks were the most active sellers at the MLB trade deadline, departing with fan-favorite Archie Bradley, Starling Marte, Robbie Ray and Andrew Chafin.
"Given how we've played this year, it was challenging to envision just letting this go for another year and start it back up a year from now and hope that there were going to be changes," Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said on a call with the media.
Bradley, who made his big league debut with the D-backs in 2015, heads to Cincinnati along with $100K cash in exchange for Josh VanMeter and Stuart Fairchild. The Diamondbacks parting with their closer, and more importantly, one of the faces of the franchise was a very difficult decision according to Hazen.
"He's a fan favorite for a reason, and that's a tricky one for us to factor into. We want to keep our fan-favorites and our Diamondbacks that were drafted and developed here, here long-term. We're not in a position currently to do that with this team right now."
Utilityman Josh Van Meter and outfielder Stuart Fairchild are headed to the Diamondbacks for Archie Bradley, sources tell ESPN.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 31, 2020
Fairchild, an outfielder, is the Reds #10 prospect according to Baseball America. He was the Reds second-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Wake Forest.
VanMeter is an infielder/outfielder that has played 109 games with the Reds over the last two seasons hitting .214. Hazen said he is more MLB-ready than Fairchild at this point.
Once an all-star pitcher, Robbie Ray was dealt to the Toronto Blue Jays along with $300K cash in exchange for 26-year-old LHP prospect Travis Bergen. Ray was scheduled to be a free agent after this season and has struggled mightily with control. He was 1-4 with a 7.84 ERA with 31 walks and 43 strikeouts.
"We went pretty aggressive at 2020. A big piece to that strategic aggressiveness was top of the rotation starting pitching, and he was one of those guys," Hazen said of Ray when asked about any regrets holding on to him at last year's trade deadline or the off-season.
Outfielder Starling Marte, one of the lone bright spots on the team's struggling offense, was sent to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later.
Marte had a team-option for next season for $12.5 million that Hazen said the team had not declined, contrary to reports prior to the deadline.
"We got Starling and were going to take a two-year run with that position and the team, and year one went away on us," Hazen said. "We were just forced to ask ourselves those questions. We may not be right. The best strategy may have been to just hold everything and not doing anything, and push all the chips in the middle of the table for 2021. We just didn't feel positioned to do that."
Smith is 15-18 in his career as a starting pitcher with a 4.64 ERA, but has missed most of this season after testing positive for the coronavirus. He was cleared to play earlier this month and assigned to the team's alternate training site. Mejia is a young pitching prospect that has thrown 10 innings this season, his only on a big-league roster, and has given up 6 earned runs.
Andrew Chafin, who has been a staple in the D-backs bullpen since 2014, was dealt to the Chicago Cubs. Chafin is currently injured and the mechanics of his deal are predicated on his return from injury. The D-backs will receive cash or a player to be named later.
Hazen said the Diamondbacks will have one of the better farm systems in baseball which will have them in a fairly strong position for future deals should they want to be aggressive in the off-season again.
"When we have an opportunity to push in and put together the best team possible to win the most games, we're going to do that every single time. There are moments in time though when you can't go chasing something that isn't there, and for this season it hasn't been there. I feel like pivoting at this moment in time is what's most appropriate."
Asked what his message to D-backs fans are after waving the white flag on this season, Hazen offered this:
"I commiserate and empathize with the fans for 2020. We started this season with every expectation of making the playoffs, and at this moment in time are not projected to do so, and that is very disappointing."