The Diamondbacks currently sit at 17-22, in fourth place in the NL West and five games back of the Giants. The deficit doesn't seem insurmountable, but the Baseball Prospectus playoff odds report assigns the team a meager 0.8% chance. If GM Kevin Towers commits to selling in a couple of months, who might be available?
- Second baseman Kelly Johnson belongs at the top of the list, given his $5.85MM salary and impending free agency. However, Johnson is hitting .185/.256/.308 in 162 plate appearances and leads the NL in strikeouts. Even if he starts hitting, this will probably be a salary dump for Arizona at best.
- 29-year-old southpaw Joe Saunders is having a rough year, with a well-deserved 5.48 ERA through eight starts. There's a good chance he's non-tendered after the season. If he can put up a sub-5.00 ERA over the next two months the Diamondbacks might be able to save a few million on the contract. Lefty Zach Duke, recovering from a broken hand, may not make his season debut until late May or early June. If he pitches well in June, he could be a more affordable alternative to Saunders.
- There's an argument for trading shortstop Stephen Drew this summer. It'd probably make the team worse in 2012, but Drew's trade value could be higher than Jose Reyes' since the Arizona shortstop is under control for next season. Towers was willing to listen on Justin Upton during the offseason, and I think he'll field calls on Drew in the coming months. If Drew can be had, Towers would have to listen on catcher Miguel Montero as well, as Montero is also under team control through '12.
- Closer J.J. Putz is another solid player the D'Backs have to consider moving even if it hurts in the short-term. Putz is under contract for '12 and possibly '13. He's nine for nine in save opportunities in a world where Matt Capps can net a team Wilson Ramos.
- The Diamondbacks have a slew of additional veterans who wouldn't net more than salary relief in trade, assuming they're even around in July: Melvin Mora, Armando Galarraga, Aaron Heilman, Xavier Nady, Geoff Blum, Henry Blanco, Russell Branyan, and Willie Bloomquist.