The Diamondbacks are receiving “lots of calls” on right-hander Brad Ziegler, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). However, the D-Backs have told other clubs that they’d need to be overwhelmed to move Ziegler, who has transitioned seamlessly into the team’s closer role following Addison Reed’s early struggles. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, the Twins are one team with interest in Ziegler.
Ziegler is 35 years old, but the side-armer is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career despite his age. He’s never been a hard-thrower (85.2 mph average fastball in his career) or missed many bats (career 6.0 K/9), but Ziegler is a ground-ball machine that has consistently dominated right-handed hitters and posted strong ERA marks. Righties have hit him at just a .216/.268/.279 clip in his career, and while he at one time struggled versus lefties, he’s held them to a .206/.302/.321 line over the past three seasons.
Thus far in 2015, Ziegler’s posted a pristine 1.08 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 69 percent in 41 2/3 innings. With Reed losing a handle on the ninth inning early in the year, Ziegler has picked up 15 saves in 16 tries as well. Though he’s typically been deployed as a traditional one-inning closer, manager Chip Hale has shown a willingness to use him for multiple innings recently. Ziegler has been asked to get six outs and five outs in his past two outings — his first multi-inning efforts since May 8, when he was still pitching as a setup man.
Ziegler’s strong results aren’t the only reason that teams are showing interest, as he’s also on an affordable contract. He signed a two-year, $10.5MM extension with the D-Backs that covers the 2014-15 seasons and includes a reasonable club option for the 2016 campaign as well. Ziegler is earning $5MM in 2015, of which about $2.05MM remains. He’s also guaranteed a $1MM buyout of a $5.5MM option for the 2016 season, though given his excellent results through the first three-plus months, that option would seem like a lock to be exercised, whether it’s by the D-Backs or another team following a trade.