Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes has made 13 trades since taking over in October of 2005. You can Download arizona_diamondbacks_byrnes.xls to see all the moves. The jury is still out on many of them, but he’s done a first-class job in my opinion.
His first deal was to send a couple of relievers to the Braves for catcher Johnny Estrada in December of 2005. Estrada had a respectable, resurgent year for the Diamondbacks in ’06, but Oscar Villarreal gave the Braves 90 solid innings. Lance Cormier was less impressive but may earn a rotation spot this year once healthy. John Schuerholz may have won this one, slightly. Estrada was one of many players that Byrnes traded for and then traded away the following year.
A few weeks later Byrnes made an excellent trade, nabbing El Duque, Luis Vizcaino, and Chris Young from the White Sox for Javier Vazquez. It was a move that may sting the White Sox, as Young appears on the path to stardom as the Diamondbacks’ center fielder. Hindsight is 20/20 – I loved the move for the White Sox at the time and a couple of strong seasons from Vazquez would make it completely worth the price. We may be able to say that both teams benefitted here. Kenny Williams won a smaller deal a few months later in acquiring Alex Cintron.
Byrnes’s third deal that month was to acquire Miguel Batista and Orlando Hudson for Troy Glaus and a prospect. I think he beat J.P. Ricciardi here, as Batista was a credible back-rotation starter and Hudson blossomed into one of the game’s better 2Bs. Some stats say that Hudson had a significantly better 2006 than Glaus, positions considered.
Byrnes made two more very strong deals before the ’06 season began, netting Alberto Callaspo and Juan Cruz without giving up much. The Callaspo trade was particularly egregious for Bill Stoneman, who only got Jason Bulger in return. Callaspo could start at second for many teams.
In May of ’06 Byrnes acquired Jorge Julio from the Mets for Orlando Hernandez. El Duque was slightly more useful that year, but spinning Julio into Yusmeiro Petit last month was masterful.
Byrnes unloaded Shawn Green last August, getting him to waive his no-trade clause. The D’Backs had to eat half of Green’s contract to get Evan MacLane, a soft-tossing southpaw prospect. The move cleared a path for Carlos Quentin. It wasn’t an impressive bounty but Green obviously had to go. The other August trade was the acquisition of Livan Hernandez for Garrett Mock and Matt Chico. It’s still unknown as to whether Hernandez can replicate his ’06 Arizona success. With the price of pitching as it is it’s an OK deal.
This offseason, Byrnes revamped his rotation by trading for southpaws Randy Johnson and Doug Davis. I love the Johnson trade and like the Davis trade for Arizona. I just don’t think any of the players sent away (Estrada, Greg Aquino, Claudio Vargas, Vizcaino, and prospects) will be missed by the Diamondbacks. Dana Eveland was the icing on the cake; he’ll make a decent back-rotation guy one day.
In case you hadn’t noticed, I really like Byrnes’s trading strategies. He’s snagged some very promising young players for unwanted/expensive veterans and has never given up his best prospects. If I were a Diamondbacks fan I’d have faith in Byrnes to swing a smart deal for a scary-monster type hitter this July if the D’Backs are in the thick of the race.