What Were the Arizona Diamondbacks Thinking?
The one thing I don’t understand about the nine player trade between the Diamondbacks, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds is how the Diamondbacks could possibly think that SS Didi Gregorius is worth giving up RHP Trevor Bauer.
The rest of it, I understand. Cleveland wanted to get rid of Shin Soo Choo, and the Reds need a lead-off man until Billy Hamilton is ready. Most of the rest of the players in the trade are role players or guys who have regressed the last couple of seasons and need a fresh start with a new organization.
The rest of the players the Diamondbacks received (Tony Sipp, Lars Anderson) and gave up (Matt Albers, Bryan Shaw) seem like an even swap, assuming the D-Backs had a surplus of right-handed middle relievers and need a left-handed short man. In other words, the trade really does come down to Gregorius for Bauer as far as the D-Backs are concerned.
Bauer looks like a sure thing, at least in the short term and at least as much as any pitching prospect can be a sure thing. Aside from being the 3rd pick of the 2011 Draft, Bauer has struck out 200 batters in 156 minor league innings pitched, a majority of those innings at the AAA level and all but nine of those innings at the AA level or higher.
The knocks on Bauer are essentially the same as those on Tim Lincecum. Bauer has a long motion that makes it hard at times for him to throw strikes (Bauer walked 74 batters in 146.2 IP in 2012, which is another way of saying he doesn’t have major league command yet, but he was only 21 years old and in his first full year of professional baseball last season). Also, Bauer doesn’t have the body major league teams want from their RHPs (espn.com lists Bauer at 6’1″ and 185 lbs).
However, Bauer actually pitched better in college that Lincecum did, and what team wouldn’t take what Lincecum has done to date from a pitcher they’ve drafted in the first round? Lincecum got off to a faster professional start, but Lincecum was two years older than Bauer when he hit professional baseball.
I’m not saying that Bauer will, in fact, be the next Tim Lincecum. However, given what we’ve seen to date, the comparisons between the two pitchers are apt.
Meanwhile, Didi Gregorius is a slick-fielding shortstop who may or may not develop into a major league hitter. Entering the 2013 season, Gregorius has a career minor league OPB of .323 and OPS of .699 in 1,909 plate appearances. In 2012, in a season split between AA and AAA ball (64% at AA), Gregorius at age 22 had a .324 OBP and a .717 OPS.
Gregorius is still young enough to develop into a major league hitter, but if the Diamondbacks think he’s going to help them at the major league level in 2013, I think they’re sorely mistaken no matter how good his glove is.