Arizona Diamondbacks Might Have to Contemplate Monumental Trades

It was a tumultuous 2016 campaign for the Arizona Diamondbacks. If history repeats itself this year, team management may have to think about trading cornerstone players.

Last season, it was clear that the Diamondbacks thought they had enough talent to at the very least compete for a playoff spot. But after a preseason injury to A.J. Pollock sidelined him for most of the year, along with the poor performances of Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller, things fell apart quickly.

However, spring training brings hope, and the Diamondbacks are probably chomping at the bit to put its 2016 campaign behind them. This by no means should make the franchise’s front office forget about its many problems.

Topping that list is that, while the Diamondbacks may start the season in a better position than a year ago, the talent on this roster doesn’t scream “PLAYOFFS!”

Trading Jean Segura from a high upside arm in Taijuan Walker was a shrewd move that was a positive signal for the club’s new management. Signing Fernando Rodney to close was a low risk-high reward proposition as well.

Zack Greinke and Shelby Miller have too much talent to repeat their struggles to the extent of last season. Most of all, Paul Goldscmidt and A.J. Pollock are as good as any of a combo to build around. Nonetheless, the weaknesses are evident.

Outside of Rodney and Jake Barrett, the Diamondbacks are relying on many unsure pieces in the bullpen. In addition, while Walker, Miller, Greinke and Robbie Ray all have stuff that jumps off the page, all were extremely inconsistent last season to say the least.

Arizona also decided to non-tender one of the more underrated catchers in the game in Welington Castillo in favor of less encouraging options in Chris Herrmann and Chris Iannetta. Finally, the Diamondbacks are still on the hook for a dismal outfielder in Yasmany Tomas for many years to come.

If the team begins next season in a similar fashion as a year before, what’s to keep the front office from actually considering some franchise-altering changes? It’s not like new general manager Mike Hazen is tied to many of the club’s best players anyway. Yes, guys like Goldschmidt and Pollock are elite players at their respective positions, but we just saw what happens when a team like the White Sox decides to rebuild…no move is off-limits.

The primary question is, “Would it be wise to go into a full-blown rebuild?” Well at the moment, the Diamondbacks have a long way to go in developing its farm system. The organization does not have one prospect ranked in either Baseball America or MLB Pipeline’s top 100 lists.

What could be a quick fix to this problem? Trading away a core player from the major league club would be a start. Paul Goldschmidt is one of the best hitters in baseball, consistently ranking in the upper-echelon in all offensive categories for his position. He’s under team control for another three years too, so the return would be massive. Think more than what the White Sox got for Chris Sale, and Chicago was able to reel in some of the game’s best young players in Yoan Moncada and Michael Kopech.

If the Diamondbacks would rather deal A.J. Pollock instead, the exchange would still net them some franchise caliber talent as well. Before his injury plagued 2016 campaign, the 29 year-old center fielder was on his way to becoming an elite center fielder.

Trading the likes of Jake Lamb or David Peralta would bring back value as well, but it wouldn’t signal as much of a shift in thinking as dealing away one or both of the ball club’s two core pieces.

Now don’t get me wrong, this scenario would only come into play if the team was as dreadful as they were a year ago, which I don’t think they will be with the return of Pollock and the hopeful improvement of the starting rotation. All I’m saying is that this line of thinking shouldn’t be out-of-sight-out-of-mind.

The lack of quality prospects, especially where they ending up in the standings, should be a serious concern. Trading away Dansby Swanson was a monumental blunder that probably cost Dave Stewart and the rest of his staff their jobs. If tempted to make a move, a Goldschmidt or Pollock deal could make up for that incredible mistake.

What’s tricky is that even if the Diamondbacks are completely out of the playoff picture come July, both players are still under team control, which could keep them out of the trade market altogether. But the fact that they are controlled is exactly why teams would dump the farm in the first place.

Chicago didn’t let Chris Sale lose his value, will the Diamondbacks be apt to make the same move if their outlook doesn’t improve in 2017?

Is a Goldschmidt or Pollock trade a possibility for the Diamondbacks come midseason? What would it take for you to deal one of these players? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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