Arizona Diamondbacks – MLB Trade Rumors 2020-08-12T00:03:05Z WordPress Steve Adams <![CDATA[D-backs Trade Ildemaro Vargas To Twins]]> 2020-08-11T21:10:02Z 2020-08-11T20:06:23Z The Twins announced that they have acquired switch-hitting utility infielder Ildemaro Vargas from the Diamondbacks for cash. Minnesota will make a 28-man roster move to accommodate Vargas’ activation at a later date. Arizona designated Vargas for assignment late last week.

Vargas, 29, has a strong Triple-A track record at the plate and plenty of versatility, given that he’s a switch-hitter with more than 1000 innings of experience at each of shortstop, second base and third base. Vargas has also seen time at all three outfield spots and first base, though only a few games’ worth of innings at each slot.

However, despite that versatility, Vargas’ production from Triple-A hasn’t really carried over to the Majors. He’s a career .326/.371/.464 hitter at the top minor league level but has mustered just a .257/.287/.357 slash in the Majors. He hasn’t received much of a look at the big league level with the D-backs, however, so perhaps the Twins feel that he can thrive with a bit more playing time. Then again, the Twins already have plenty of infield options themselves, so playing time could continue to be difficult to come by. Vargas is also out of minor league options, so the Twins can’t send him to their alternate training site in St. Paul unless they designate him for assignment themselves and Vargas subsequently goes unclaimed on waivers.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Place Madison Bumgarner On Injured List, Select Jeremy Beasley]]> 2020-08-11T00:33:25Z 2020-08-10T20:47:49Z 4:01pm: The team has selected the contract of righty Jeremy Beasley and activated him to fulfill the open active roster spot. Beasley, a former 30th-round pick, gets his first taste of the majors after pitching to a 4.49 ERA in 122 1/3 innings in the upper minors last year.

3:47pm: The Diamondbacks have placed lefty Madison Bumgarner on the injured list, GM Mike Hazen told reporters including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter). He’s said to be dealing with a mid-back strain.

The hope at this point is that Bumgarner won’t be sidelined for an extended stretch. But even a few missed outings could put a rather significant dent in his overall contribution in a shortened 2020 season.

More broadly, it’d probably be good news if a fairly minor back issue helps explain Bumgarner’s early struggles. The 31-year-old’s past two starts have been duds; he has allowed an eye-popping six home runs while registering just four strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings.

TC Zencka <![CDATA[Madison Bumgarner To Be Evaluated By Team Doctors]]> 2020-08-09T23:55:41Z 2020-08-09T23:55:41Z Arizona Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo told reporters including The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan that big-ticket free-agent acquisition Madison Bumgarner was removed from today’s game due to back spasms (Twitter links). Bumgarner is returning to Phoenix to be looked at by team doctors.

It’s been a disappointing start to Bumgarner’s career outside of San Francisco. The former Giants’ ace signed a four-year, $72MM deal with the rival Diamondbacks this offseason, and their union is off to a rocky start. Bumgarner is 0-2 with a 7.04 ERA/6.03 FIP through 3 starts. His strikeouts are down to 6.5 K/9 while walks are up to 3.5 BB/9, though feel free to apply any/all small sample size warnings here as Bumgarner has logged just 15 1/3 frames.

The big question with Bumgarner regards his velocity. The former World Series has averaged just 87.9 mph on his four-seamer this season after an average of 91.4 mph last season. The fear with this kind of velocity drop is that there’s an arm issue, though there’s been no indication of that from Bumgarner or the Diamondbacks.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Designate Ildemaro Vargas For Assignment]]> 2020-08-06T18:44:31Z 2020-08-06T18:44:31Z The D-backs announced Thursday that they’ve designated infielder Ildemaro Vargas for assignment. The club also optioned righty Yoan Lopez to its alternate training site at Salt River Fields. The pair of moves drops Arizona’s roster from 30 to the newly requisite 28.

Vargas, 29, has a strong Triple-A track record at the plate and plenty of versatility, given that he’s a switch-hitter with more than 1000 innings of experience at each of shortstop, second base and third base. Vargas has also seen time at all three outfield spots and first base, though only a few games’ worth of innings at each slot.

However, despite that versatility, Vargas’ production from Triple-A hasn’t really carried over to the Majors. He’s a career .326/.371/.464 hitter at the top minor league level but has mustered just a .257/.287/.357 slash in the Majors. It’s true that he’s only had 137 plate appearances and never really gotten consistent playing time, but the D-backs clearly feel their other bench options to be superior.

Vargas’ case was surely hurt by the fact that his versatility isn’t exactly unique on a D-backs roster that is rife with Swiss army knives. Newly promoted Andy Young can play all over the infield, just as Vargas can, and top catching prospect Daulton Varsho is somewhat of an anomaly given his ability to capably handle catcher, center field and multiple infield positions. D-backs star Ketel Marte is quite obviously comfortable at second base or in the outfield, and third baseman Eduardo Escobar is no stranger to playing other infield spots as well.

Vargas, meanwhile, was out of minor league options and has only seen eight plate appearances this season in the Majors. Arizona hasn’t been able to find playing time for him, and carrying him as a seldom-used, out-of-options bench piece would’ve effectively reduced their roster size to 27 players. Arizona will have a week to trade Vargas, release him or place him on outright waivers. His Triple-A track record and versatility could get him a look in another organization.


Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Diamondbacks To Promote Andy Young]]> 2020-08-01T15:25:34Z 2020-08-01T15:25:34Z The Diamondbacks will give infielder Andy Young his first Major League promotion, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports (Twitter link).  Young is already on Arizona’s 40-man roster, though the D’Backs will have to make another move to find space on the 30-man active roster.

Originally a 37th-round pick for the Cardinals in the 2016 draft, Young is now on the cusp of the majors after that rather unheralded start to his pro career.  The 26-year-old posted some strong hitting numbers during his time in the St. Louis farm system, and came to the D’Backs in the 2018-19 offseason as part of the trade package in the deal that sent Paul Goldschmidt to the Cards.  The production continued for Young in his first season as a Diamondback, as he hit .271/.368/.535 with 29 homers over 540 combined plate appearances, split almost evenly between Arizona’s Double-A and Triple-A affiliates.

MLB Pipeline lists Young as the 15th-best Diamondbacks system, describing him as “a bat-first prospect” who “does enough damage from the right side of the plate to mitigate many of the concerns about his defense.”  Young has mostly played second base in the minors, though he has logged a substantial amount of time as both a third baseman and shortstop, plus a handful of games in the corner outfield.

There aren’t any immediate openings for Young at any of those positions on the Diamondbacks’ depth chart, though he can provide backup at multiple spots and also likely log some DH at-bats.  If nothing else, Young can add some pop to a D’Backs lineup that has been inconsistent at best over the team’s first eight games.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Promote Daulton Varsho]]> 2020-07-30T21:39:36Z 2020-07-30T21:38:08Z 4:38pm: The D-backs have formally announced the moves. Varsho’s contract has been selected, and Cron has been optioned to Salt River Fields.

1:50pm: The Diamondbacks are set to promote top catching prospect Daulton Varsho to the big leagues, as James Fox of first reported (via Twitter). Varsho isn’t on the 40-man roster, so his contract will need to be formally selected. John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 tweets that first baseman/designated hitter Kevin Cron is being optioned to alternate camp in a corresponding move.

Daulton Varsho

Varsho, 24, entered the season widely considered to be among the game’s 100 best prospects. A second-round pick back in 2017, Varsho spent last season in Double-A, where he hit .301/.378/.520 with 18 home runs and 21 steals. Varsho ranked as the game’s No. 29 prospect on Keith Law’s preseason rankings at The Athletic and checked in at No. 34 on Kiley McDaniel’s list at Baseball America (56), FanGraphs (61) and (75) all rank him among the game’s best young talents as well. His father, Gary, spent part of eight seasons in the Majors from 1988-95, seeing time with the Cubs, Pirates, Reds and Phillies.

While the younger Varsho is a catcher first and foremost, he’s capable of playing all over the diamond. McDaniel calls him a passable defender at first base, second base, in the outfield corners and even in center field, citing his plus speed and athleticism. That ability to bounce all over the field would seem particularly valuable for a D-backs club that has demonstrated a fondness for carrying three catchers for several years now. Varsho can still serve as a backup for starter Carson Kelly and veteran Stephen Vogt behind the dish. Unlike most third catchers, though, he can get worked into the lineup on a fairly regular basis by spelling others on the diamond.

Even though we’re just a week into the season, enough time has passed that the D-backs have gained an additional year of control over Varsho by keeping him down this long. (Service time, like salary, is prorated this year.) As such, Arizona can control Varsho all the way through the 2026 season. He’d still be on track to be a surefire Super Two player and reach arbitration four times, but that’s typically of lesser concern for most organizations than delaying free agency entirely. Of course, those timelines could still change if Varsho is ultimately sent back down to alternate camp (or optioned to the minors in subsequent seasons).

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Predict The NL West Division Winner]]> 2020-07-30T11:23:37Z 2020-07-30T11:23:37Z With final roster decisions in the books and the 2020 season underway, it’s time to make some predictions. We’re polling the MLBTR readership on each of the game’s six divisions — though plenty more teams will crack the postseason under the rather inclusive new playoff qualification system. We’ve already surveyed the AL EastAL Central, AL WestNL Central, and NL East landscapes, so it’s time to wrap things up with the National League West.

The Dodgers have owned this division for some time now and are perhaps more laden with star-level talent than ever with Mookie Betts on board. Then again, they may be more vulnerable than ever in a short-season format. There’s a nice assembly of talent on the Diamondbacks roster, which includes an elite young player in Ketel Marte and a sturdy slate of veterans now highlighted by intra-division transferee Madison Bumgarner. Then again, you could argue that the Padres have the greatest capacity to surprise with their own budding legend in Fernando Tatis Jr., still-youthful star Manny Machado, and a potential-laden rotation. The Rockies have an excellent core unit in their own right and perhaps have more upside than is generally recognized. And while the Giants don’t really appear primed to compete, they managed to do so last year and still have a lot of players with lofty established performance ceilings at the game’s highest level — even if it has been a few years.

Which team do you think is going to take the division title? (Poll link for app users.)

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Jon Jay Makes Diamondbacks’ Opening Day Roster]]> 2020-07-19T00:40:37Z 2020-07-19T00:40:37Z Outfielder Jon Jay will be part of the Diamondbacks’ 30-man roster on Opening Day, the team announced.  A future transaction will need to take place to officially select Jay’s minor league deal to the active roster, but the 35-year-old will be on pace to play in his 11th Major League season.

As per the terms of the contract Jay signed with Arizona in February, making the MLB roster will guarantee him the prorated portion of a $1.5MM salary.  Prior to the league shutdown, Jay was already making a strong case for himself by posting a .947 OPS over 28 Spring Training plate appearances, though Jay’s ability to play all three outfield positions is probably more of a factor than a bat that has been increasingly shaky in regular-season action.

Jay hit .267/.311/.315 over 182 PA with the White Sox last season, though he was slowed by hip problems that eventually required surgery last August.  Overall, Jay generated a negative (-0.9) fWAR, thanks in large part to his struggles against right-handed pitching — over his career, the left-handed hitting Jay has been a decent (.286/.348/.389) if unspectacular performer against righties.

Jay and Tim Locastro will be Arizona’s primary backup outfielders behind the starting trio of David Peralta, Starling Marte, and Kole Calhoun.  Second-year player Josh Rojas still has a shot at making the team as a utility player, while Ketel Marte may get the occasional start in center field when he isn’t in his primary second base spot.  Trayce Thompson is also still an option for the outfield, though he was sent to the Diamondbacks’ minor league camp today.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Diamondbacks, COVID-19]]> 2020-07-12T03:40:45Z 2020-07-12T03:39:19Z The Diamondbacks have been among the teams who have been most impacted by COVID-19 cases, with multiple players testing positive over the last few weeks.  That list added another name today, as manager Torey Lovullo told reporters (including The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan) that another player on the D’Backs 40-man roster has tested positive.

It remains to be seen if that player’s identity will become public knowledge, given the league policies against revealing COVID-19 cases unless the player gives his consent.  We have already learned that Silvino Bracho, Seth Beer, Junior Guerra, and Kole Calhoun are among the D’Backs players who tested positive, and the good news is that the latter three players have since tested negative and are at Summer Camp.  (Bracho’s status is unknown, though he wasn’t expected to be in camp anyway after being placed on the 60-day injured list following a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.)

Calhoun discussed his return with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic and other reporters, saying he was mostly asymptomatic — perhaps due to some hypochondria, as Piecoro writes that Calhoun “believes that at one point he managed to trick himself into thinking there was something wrong with his sense of smell.”  The lack of symptoms underlined Calhoun’s confusion about his health, as he received alternating results on a number of different COVID-19 tests.

Before posting the two negative tests required by MLB protocols to return to camp, Calhoun said his previous tests went “positive, negative, positive, negative, positive, negative….[The doctor] said at the end of an infection they’re finding some people who still show up positive.  It’s a matter of the sample that they get and did the virus attach itself to those cells.”

While circumstances like Calhoun’s are rather rare, it still underlines the difficulty that Major League Baseball (and society at large) will have in properly determining whether or not individuals are completely free and clear of the virus, given all that is still unknown about COVID-19.  As it pertains to the 2020 season, the nightmare scenario would be for a player to deliver a multiple negative test results but still be an asymptomatic carrier, thus running the risk of unknowingly infecting numerous teammates, coaches, and opponents.

In terms of being ready for the start of the season, Calhoun said “I don’t feel like I’m too far behind,” so there’s a chance he could line up as Arizona’s right fielder on Opening Day.  Calhoun signed a two-year, $16MM free agent deal with the Diamondbacks over the winter, though he’ll only receive a prorated portion of the $6MM salary he was originally slated to receive in 2020.

Starling Marte was also at Arizona’s camp on Friday, after missing the previous four days for an undisclosed reason.  Amidst coronavirus speculation, Marte told Buchanan and other reporters that the absence was due to “waiting for results” from a test, and Marte was cleared to participate once those results finally arrived.

Steve Adams <![CDATA[Diamondbacks Agree To Terms With Slade Cecconi]]> 2020-07-11T23:28:16Z 2020-07-10T18:03:22Z The D-backs are in agreement with Competitive Balance pick Slade Cecconi on a $2,384,900 signing bonus, Jonathan Mayo of reports (via Twitter). The University of Miami right-hander’s slot value at No. 33 checked in a hair over $2.2MM.

Cecconi, 21, might’ve been a first-round pick back in ’18 had injuries during his senior year of high school and his commitment to Miami not caused clubs to shy away. As a draft-eligible sophomore this time around, he had some additional leverage but will take a slightly over-slot deal rather than looking to reenter what could be a flooded class in 2021.

Virtually all pre-draft rankings pegged Cecconi as a top 50 talent — most placing him right around the No. 33 slot at which he was actually drafted. FanGraphs’ Eric Longenhagen was most bullish, ranking him 21st, while Cecconi checked in at No. 30 on Kiley McDaniel’s list at ESPN, No. 31 at, No. 32 at Baseball America and No. 49 on Keith Law’s rankings at The Athletic. Cecconi draws praise for a plus fastball that sits 94-97 mph and a plus slider. There’s some debate on whether he’ll develop an above-average third offering — he also throws a changeup and cutter — and Law notes that he’s struggled at times to maintain his command over full outings as a starter.

The 6’4″, 219-pound Cecconi pitched 101 2/3 innings with Miami between his freshman and shortened sophomore season. In that time, he logged a 4.09 ERA with a 119-to-25 K/BB ratio (10.6 K/9, 2.2 BB/9). With this deal in place, the D-backs have signed all of their picks from the 2020 draft.

Photo courtesy of Miami Athletics/Richard Lewis.

Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Junior Guerra Returns To D-Backs Camp; Seth Beer Also Cleared To Return]]> 2020-07-10T13:42:40Z 2020-07-10T13:20:47Z July 10: In addition to Guerra’s return, first base prospect Seth Beer has been cleared to return to the field as well, The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan tweets. Manager Torey Lovullo revealed earlier this week that Beer, acquired from the Astros as part of last summer’s Zack Greinke blockbuster, recently had a positive test, though the timing of that test wasn’t clear.

July 8: We’ve covered a lot of players being held out of activities due to the coronavirus, so it’s nice to be able to begin welcoming some back to action. The Diamondbacks announced that right-hander Junior Guerra is back in camp after previously testing positive for COVID-19.

It emerged only recently that Guerra had received a coronavirus diagnosis. Since only a few days have passed, he was clearly held out based upon an earlier test. The precise details are a bit confusing — Zach Buchanan of The Athletic tweeted Guerra’s comments — but the important part is that the righty has been cleared of concern.

Given the timing, it’s reasonable to hope that Guerra will be able to ramp up in time for early-season action — if not for Opening Day itself. The 35-year-old is playing on a one-year, $2.65MM pact. He’s expected to come out of the Arizona pen, where his experience as a starter could allow him to work multiple innings as necessary.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Diamondbacks’ Seth Beer Tests Positive For COVID-19]]> 2020-07-08T01:51:44Z 2020-07-08T01:51:44Z Diamondbacks first baseman/outfielder Seth Beer has tested positive for COVID-19, manager Torey Lovullo told Zach Buchanan of The Athletic and other reporters. It’s unclear whether Beer is asymptomatic, Buchanan adds. Regardless, he’ll need to log two consecutive negative tests before he’s eligible to rejoin the Diamondbacks.

Arizona’s among the teams hit hardest by the virus in recent weeks. Prior to Beer, the club saw several players – outfielder Kole Calhoun, pitchers Junior Guerra and Silvino Bracho, as well as multiple unnamed individuals – test positive for the illness. The Diamondbacks also lost righty Mike Leake for the season, as he opted out of playing because of health concerns.

Beer isn’t on the Diamondbacks’ 40-man roster, but the team does have him in its 60-man player pool. The 23-year-old power hitter is a recent first-round pick, having gone 28th overall to the Astros in 2018, and joined the D-backs in the two clubs’ blockbuster Zack Greinke deal at last summer’s trade deadline. Beer accrued 533 plate appearances between High-A and Double-A ball in 2019, when he slashed .289/.388/.516 with 26 home runs.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Robbie Ray Discusses Pending Free Agency]]> 2020-07-07T06:44:13Z 2020-07-07T06:44:13Z As a pending free agent who’s about to embark on a pandemic-shortened season, Diamondbacks left-hander Robbie Ray is facing an especially uncertain future. Ray figures to cash in on his next contract – at least, relative to the majority of other soon-to-be free agents – but perhaps not to the extent that he would have on the heels of a typical 162-game campaign. However, Ray is optimistic he won’t take too much of a hit.

In regards to the upcoming free-agent market, Ray told reporters (including Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic and Zach Buchanan of The Athletic): “I think there’s still going to be money out there for guys. You can look towards next year, getting fans in the stands and things like that. I don’t think there’s going to be any kind of issue.”

It remains to be seen whether that will be the case a year from now. In the meantime, Ray – who’s certainly hoping to make a push for as big a payday as possible next winter – has spent the past few months ramping up in an effort to hit the ground running when the regular season kicks off. With that in mind, he’s set on playing in 2020.

“I, honestly, need to pitch this year,” he said.

As things stand, Ray will enter the market as one of the most appealing starters available in a class that looks as if it will generally lack young, high-caliber options. Ray hasn’t consistently posted top-end run prevention numbers, evidenced by his 4.11 ERA/3.97 FIP across 790 2/3 innings, and he also walked a bit over four batters per nine in the majors. But his age (29 in October) and elite strikeout ability should help lead to a good amount of interest from teams looking to better their rotations. Dating back to 2016, Ray’s 11.86 K/9 ranks third among all starters, trailing Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. He also came in third in that category last season, fanning 12.13 hitters per nine to rank behind only Scherzer and Gerrit Cole.

Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Kole Calhoun Tests Positive For COVID-19]]> 2020-07-07T02:13:20Z 2020-07-07T01:56:29Z Diamondbacks outfielder Kole Calhoun has tested positive for COVID-19, manager Torey Lovullo announced Monday (via Zach Buchanan of The Athletic). Fortunately, Calhoun’s asymptomatic and doing well, per Lovullo. Whether Calhoun will be ready for the start of the regular season is unclear, though, as he’ll have to quarantine for two weeks and test negative for the virus twice before returning to action.

A member of the Angels from 2012-19, Calhoun joined the Diamondbacks in free agency on a two-year, $16MM guarantee over the winter. The 32-year-old will bring a lifetime line of .249/.322/.424 and the strong right field defense he’s known for whenever he makes his Diamondbacks debut. The club has the likes of Ildemaro Vargas, Jon Jay, Tim Locastro and Josh Rojas among its potential outfield options in the event Calhoun does miss time.

Calhoun’s the third known member of the D-backs’ roster to test positive for the virus, joining pitchers Junior Guerra and Silvino Bracho. But they’re just a few of several individuals in the organization who have tested positive, while starter Mike Leake opted out of the season altogether because of health concerns.

Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Diamondbacks’ Junior Guerra, Silvino Bracho Test Positive For COVID-19]]> 2020-07-06T01:49:34Z 2020-07-06T01:49:34Z Diamondbacks right-handers Junior Guerra and Silvino Bracho have tested positive for the coronavirus, manager Torey Lovullo told reporters (including The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan and The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro) today.  Guerra and Bracho “are asymptomatic and feel great,” Lovullo said.  “They’re in the protocol, they’re doing what they can, taking care of what they can at home and healing up.”

While Buchanan noted that these aren’t new tests, it isn’t clear if Guerra or Bracho was one of the unknown players within the organization who tested positive last month.  Since a positive test comes with a mandatory quarantine period of at least two weeks, the timing of the tests will factor into when the two hurlers will be able to return to the field.  If they remain asymptomatic, Guerra and Bracho will each have to deliver two negative COVID-19 tests before being cleared for Summer Camp.

Less than a week after being non-tendered by the Brewers last December, Guerra signed a one-year deal with the D’Backs worth $2.65MM in guaranteed money, and the club holds an option on his services for the 2021 season.  The 35-year-old posted a 3.55 ERA, 2.14 K/BB rate, and 8.3 K/9 over 83 2/3 innings in 2019, working exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his career.  Assuming a full recovery from COVID-19, Guerra is expected to provide the D’Backs with a durable bullpen arm, and his ability to chew innings will be particularly useful in a shortened season as starting pitchers get back up to speed.

Bracho’s participation in the 2020 season was already up in the air, as it was revealed last week that he had suffered a setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, and had been placed on Arizona’s 60-day injured list.  Bracho underwent his surgery in March 2019, so it is particularly unfortunate that this setback cropped up just as the right-hander would have been aiming to be ready for Opening Day.  Bracho posted a 4.67 ERA, 2.82 K/BB rate, and 9.4 K/9 over 88 2/3 relief innings for the Diamondbacks from 2015-18, with the 2018 campaign showing promising career bests for Bracho in both ERA (3.19) and HR/9 (0.6) over 31 innings pitched.