D-backs' pen-manship gets high marks
PHOENIX -- The Diamondbacks received as many feelers on established relievers Addison Reed, Brad Ziegler and Oliver Perez before Thursday's nonwaiver trade deadline as they did on the players they traded, but that is as far as it got.
And as far as it is likely to go.
No reliever is untouchable, but the D-backs will consider trading from the group only if the other side is willing to overpay, general manager Kevin Towers said in a radio interview on 98.7 FM Friday.
"We like our pen a lot. Our pen has kept us from being a complete embarrassment this year," Towers said in the interview.
"We've won most of the games we should win. If somebody wants to overpay, we will listen. If not, we are very comfortable going into the offseason keeping our pen intact."
Part of retooling for 2015 includes keeping the necessary pieces at home. Paul Goldschmidt. The new, young outfielders. And the bullpen, which as constituted is perhaps the strongest position group on the team.
"We got lots of hits on those guys, but there wasn't a deal that presented itself that we felt was worth moving a Ziegler or an Ollie Perez," Towers said Thursday.
The D-backs will continue to listen to offers during the August trade period, which is more complicated because trade waivers must be obtained before a player can be moved. It is all part of doing business.
At the same time, they are very unlikely to break up the band. The D-backs believe they are sitting on an efficient, controllable, cost-friendly group in closer Reed, setup man Ziegler, left-hander Perez and young, hard-throwing right-handers Evan Marshall and Matt Stites. Throw in long man Randall Delgado, who gave up only one earned run in July, and minor league prospects such as Jake Barrett, and the system appears deep and talented.
All but Delgado were rested Friday, and the Pirates took advantage with eight runs in the final two innings for a 9-4 victory.
Ziegler, whose name was prominently mentioned in trade rumors, was glad to see the July 31 deadline come and go.
"I want to be here. I want to help this team get back to where we were three years ago, and hopefully next year is that year," said Ziegler, who leads the major leagues with 28 holds, which are figured the same way as saves are for a closer.
"Hopefully, now with the money that is freed up and the prospects we've got and the guys already in the system, there is some good potential for next year as far as having some flexibility in free agency or trade acquisitions in the offseason and being able to improve the ball club."
The D-backs will save more than $30 million over the next two seasons after the trades of Prado and Parra.
Reed is tied for eighth in the majors with 27 saves, and after attending to a slight mechanical issue, has converted his last seven opportunities. He has five blown saves, among the most in the league. Reed is entering his first season of arbitration eligibility in 2015, so the D-backs control him for three more seasons at a relatively low price. First-year arbitration eligible closer Steve Cishek signed with Miami for $3.8 million last winter, the sides avoiding arbitration.
Ziegler, 4-1 with a 2.75 ERA in a major league-high 56 appearances, is to make $5 million next year and has a $5.5 million team option with a $1 million buyout for 2016. Perez signed a two-year, $4.25 million deal this spring that will pay him $2.5 million next year. He is 2-1 with a 1.91 ERA, and righties are hitting only .186 against him, making him more than a specialist.
The D-backs traded left-handed specialist Joe Thatcher early in the trade season, which seemed to make them more likely to keep Perez. Nevertheless, his name was frequently mentioned before the deadline. He, too, is glad to stay.
"I said since the season started my dream was to play here, because I live here. That's my perfect city to play and live," said Perez, who has been traded twice in his 10-year career. "But I understand baseball is a business. Sometimes we don't want something and it happens. It's part of the game."
Perez has been scored on only twice since May 4 while relying on a fastball/slider mix that he has been able to throw for strikes in just about any count. He is in his third year as a reliever and is becoming more familiar with the routine involved. He digests the scouting report but also watches the game from the bullpen to pick up tips.
"My key is trying to be aggressive, knowing the hitter and knowing what pitch I can throw," he said. "Sometimes we go in in a situation that can decide the game, so I have to make sure I have the right pitch. You have the scouting report, but on that day, anything can happen. It is more important to watch the game."
Marshall, Stites and left-hander Eury De La Rosa have joined the team during the season. Marshall and Stites have a fastball in the mid-90 mph range, and Marshall has not allowed any of his 14 inherited runners to score since being promoted the first week of May.
"Our bullpen is as good as it has been since I've been here, since 2011," Towers said.