If the Diamondbacks decide to move some of their veteran talent at the deadline, the Cubs are one of multiple teams who would have interest in outfielder David Peralta, Ken Rosenthal reports in his latest video link for FOX Sports.
Peralta went on the injured list on Friday due to right shoulder inflammation, though Arizona expects he’ll be back in action in relatively short order (and, most importantly, before the July 31st trade deadline). Peralta’s health is still something of a red flag, however, as this is the second time this season that a bothersome right AC joint has sent him to the injured list. That first IL stint sidelined the outfielder for only 10 days, but any type of recurring injury has to be concerning to any interested trade partners, particularly since Peralta batted only .252/.342/.388 over 117 plate appearances in between his two trips to the injured list.
Those 117 PA make up a significant chunk of Peralta’s season, and could explain why his overall .289/.352/.476 slash line and 112 OPS+ and wRC+ over 324 PA are all down from his production in 2018 (.293/.352/.516 with 30 homers, 128 OPS+, 130 wRC+). Peralta may also be somewhat fortunate to be hitting as well as he has this season, as his .350 wOBA far outpaces a very modest .301 xwOBA.
It could be that a healthy Peralta, fully recovered from his shoulder woes, can regain his 2018 form once he returns from the IL. He’d have to prove this over a relatively small amount of time before the trade deadline, as otherwise suitors would either lose interest or only present the D’Backs with lowball offers. That could mean Arizona holds off on dealing Peralta altogether, as the Snakes don’t have a ton of urgency to move a player who has one year remaining of arbitration eligibility at an affordable price — Peralta is earning $7MM this season, and thus is likely on pace to get a raise to something in the $9MM range for 2020.
This assumes, of course, that the Diamondbacks are sellers at all, as the team heads into the All-Star break 1.5 games out of the final NL wild card position. Arizona isn’t far behind Chicago’s own 47-43 record, though the Cubs are hanging onto first place in the crowded NL Central, whereas the D’Backs are way behind the Dodgers in the NL West, so the wild card is the Snakes’ only realistic road to the postseason.
Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen has tried to walk the fine line between keeping his team competitive while also keeping payroll in check, as the D’Backs are somewhat bogged down by the large salaries owed to Zack Greinke (who at least delivers ace-level performance) and the albatross that is Yasmany Tomas’ contract. To this end, Arizona parted ways with Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock as free agents last offseason and also dealt Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, though despite missing these star names, the D’Backs have indeed still remained in the wild card hunt.
Barring a big string of losses after the break, it doesn’t seem like Hazen would turn firmly towards deadline selling since Peralta still has quite a bit of value to the 2020 club. On the other hand, that same extra year of control could also entice teams to offer enough young talent for Arizona to consider moving Peralta.
The Cubs represent an interesting suitor for Peralta, particularly since Chicago already has a left-handed hitting left fielder in Kyle Schwarber. Peralta has played almost exclusively in left field over the last two seasons, though he has a lot of experience in right field, so the Cubbies could deploy him in right while Jason Heyward (another lefty swinger) became more or less a full-time center fielder.
While everyday center fielders are harder to find than corner outfielders (especially at the trade deadline), one would think the more easier solution to the Cubs’ issues would be to simply find an actual center fielder, rather than add Peralta into the mix. Heyward has graded as a good center fielder, though since he is arguably the game’s best defensive right fielder, moving him to center and Peralta to right doesn’t do much to help the Cubs’ overall defense.
If Peralta was acquired, maybe the more intriguing counter-move would be for Chicago to then flip Schwarber — perhaps the Diamondbacks would have interest. This is just speculation on my part, though on the face of it, adding Peralta alongside Heyward and Schwarber for an all-left handed starting outfield doesn’t seem like a great fit for the Cubs. Then again, the right-handed hitter Kris Bryant would still continue to see his share of at-bats in the corner outfield positions when he isn’t playing third base.