Of the Diamondbacks’ available players, Haren might be the most difficult to trade. It’s not that there will be a shortage of suitors. He has postseason experience, and he has been an ace. The issue is that Haren isn’t pitching well enough this season to justify his big salary and the high cost in prospects that Byrnes will demand. Where the Diamondbacks see an ace, other teams shield their eyes from $12.75 million salaries in each of the next two years. Prospective Employer: The Rangers are an intriguing possibility, but only if new owner Chuck Greenberg gets control of the club before July 31 and wants to make a big splash right away.
Decisions ahead for Diamondbacks GM
Before we start, let’s make this clear: The Diamondbacks aren’t going to trade everyone. Even in a rebuilding effort, it’s not advisable to shed every last movable part and field a Pacific Coast League team. But Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes is likely to make more trades between now and July 31. One person in the organization pegged the over/under at two, in addition to Conor Jackson’s departure last week. I believe the number will be higher – perhaps three or four. We’ll see. Here is a look at 10 of the team’s trade commodities, along with one possible destination for each. Because we are so far from the deadline, the landing spots are educated guesses. But we do know two things: Arizona is a bad team, and Byrnes is listening. So, pretty much anything is possible. -- Jon Paul Morosi
Adam LaRoche, first baseman
Students of LaRoche’s splits will understand why he’s such an appealing trade candidate: He has generally fared better in the second half than the first. The Braves were reminded of that last season, given his .957 OPS after arriving in a deadline deal. LaRoche has minimal experience as a DH, so American League teams will be wary of acquiring him for that role. But he’s a left-handed power hitter who can handle left-handed pitching, so there should be plenty of interest. Prospective Employer: The Rangers could use a more experienced first baseman than rookie Justin Smoak in the midst of a pennant race.
Kelly Johnson, second baseman
Johnson has already surpassed the power numbers he had during a disappointing final season with the Braves in 2009. He’s a second baseman but has some experience in the outfield – enough to make you wonder if he could be a great super-utility man for a contender. Prospective Employer: The Mets admittedly have more pressing concerns (namely: pitching), but don’t count them out if the price drops. They haven’t had much production at second base this season, so Johnson could slide in there as an everyday player. If Luis Castillo returns at full strength, Johnson would move around the diamond.
Stephen Drew, shortstop
If the Diamondbacks trade Drew, they will wince as they do it. He’s the kind of player GMs dream about – a left-handed-hitting shortstop who can bat in one of the top three lineup spots. Drew won’t be a free agent until after the 2012 season and is affordable until then, so the price in prospects will be steep indeed. Byrnes would probably ask for at least one frontline pitching prospect and a quality shortstop prospect to replace Drew. If that happens, a deal could make sense. Prospective Employer: The Tigers haven’t developed a true everyday shortstop of their own since Alan Trammell.
Mark Reynolds, third baseman
The strikeouts are adding up again. Reynolds is on pace to lead the National League in whiffs for a third straight year. His batting average has tumbled to .217, a consequence of all the free swinging. But he’s still getting his power numbers – numbers that would jump if he played in a more hitter-friendly ballpark. The White Sox, never afraid to be contrarian, might be the team to offer that opportunity. Reynolds could be a part-time DH and get at-bats at both infield corners. Prospective Employer: The White Sox would have plenty of room for Reynolds in next year’s lineup, too.
Chris Snyder, catcher
Snyder hasn’t had a productive season the plate since 2008, and the Diamondbacks tried to move him over the off-season. But Snyder handles pitchers well and has postseason experience, making him an ideal backup for contending clubs. (The Diamondbacks obviously can’t trade both Montero and Snyder.) One idea: Snyder could go to St. Louis and help Yadier Molina get a little more time off; Molina leads the NL in innings caught, which might be contributing to his .245 batting average. Prospective employer: The Cardinals must keep Molina rested for the pennant drive and postseason.
Miguel Montero, catcher
Montero carries some risk. He underwent knee surgery this year and only recently returned from the disabled list. But he can hit, as evidenced by his numbers in a breakthrough 2009 season: .294, 16 home runs and 59 RBIs. He’s not a Gold Glove defender but handles the position capably enough. The bonus, of course, is that he bats left-handed. Prospective Employer: The Angels need left-handed power in the absence of Kendry Morales. Montero is an intriguing option for the Angels; he could split duty behind the plate with Jeff Mathis, enabling Mike Napoli to play first base.
Chad Qualls, right-handed reliever
It’s time for a change of scenery. People throughout the industry are probably aware of that. Qualls is having a lousy contract year, with an 8.87 ERA that isn’t helping the team – or him. But he has value, particularly to pitching coaches and scouts who profess the we-can-fix-him mentality. A natural destination would be Cincinnati, where Bryan Price is the pitching coach. Price worked with Qualls two years ago, when the right-hander had a tidy 2.81 ERA for Arizona. Prospective Employer: The Reds’ bullpen is the team’s most obvious weakness.
Aaron Heilman, right-handed reliever
Heilman has a great arm but a proclivity for surrendering runs at the worst possible moments. (He went 10-15, entirely as a reliever, over his final two seasons with the Mets. A lot of decisions, and that’s not a good thing.) Fortunately for the Diamondbacks – and clubs in need of bullpen help – this looks like one of Heilman’s good years. He recently inherited the closer’s role, which should help his value. Prospective Employer: The Angels can’t be too content with a bullpen that features Brian Fuentes and Scot Shields.
Edwin Jackson, right-handed starter
At this time last year, Jackson was pitching his way toward an All-Star selection as a Tiger. He hasn’t been quite the same since, with a 4.58 ERA in the second half last year and 5.05 so far in 2010. Jackson’s lively fastball still hums around 95 mph and above, one reason teams will be willing to take a chance on him. The right pitching coach could make a difference for Jackson, still a relatively young pitcher at age 26. Prospective Employer: The Cardinals are never shy about taking on struggling pitchers. Jackson would flourish under pitching guru Dave Duncan.