PHOENIX – Losers of 10 of their last 11 games, the Arizona Diamondbacks acted aggressively at Monday’s MLB trade deadline, moving four key players – including a fan favorite, relief pitcher Archie Bradley.
The day’s transactions commenced with the Diamondbacks dealing starter Robbie Ray and cash considerations to the Toronto Blue Jays for left-handed reliever Travis Bergen.
Then outfielder Starling Marte was sent to the Florida Marlins for pitchers Caleb Smith, Humberto Mejia and a player to be named later.
Reliever Andrew Chafin swapped desert heat for Midwest humidity and found himself on his way to the Chicago Cubs.
Then, in perhaps the most significant news of the day, Bradley – the club’s closer and a franchise pillar – was traded to Cincinnati in exchange for outfielders Stuart Fairchild and Josh VanMeter.
Bradley was wildly popular among Diamondbacks fans with his recognizable beard, high energy personality and visibility in the community.
“We felt like there was some changes that were going to be made, given how we played this year,” said General Manager Mike Hazen. “It was challenging to envision, you know, just letting this go for another year and start it back up again a year from now.”
In return, the Diamondbacks’ haul includes a number of prospects with different pedigrees.
The 26-year-old Bergen, whom Hazen revealed Arizona had considered acquiring via the Rule 5 draft in the past, represents a likely upgrade for the club’s struggling bullpen. Smith and Mejia should help fortify a rotation with a lot of young, unproven arms.
Meanwhile, Fairchild, a former second-round pick, could be a foundational piece in the Diamondbacks outfield after Marte’s departure. VanMeter will likely help provide additional infield and/or outfield depth and is more likely to see immediate playing time.
The moves signify a change in strategy from last year’s trade deadline, which focused on improving the club’s developmental pipeline at large without selling off all tradable assets.
Hazen attributed the change in philosophy to the club’s underperformance relative to expectations.
“It’s not a position we felt like we were going to be in, nor are we proud of being in this position,” he said. “This isn’t what we envisioned when 2020 started. And there’s no excuses with that. It doesn’t matter what the dynamic has been. We have not played well.”
He emphasized the importance of the club building a major league roster with the depth of talent to withstand injuries to key players and field a complete team, regardless.
“I think we’re situated in a fairly strong position moving into the offseason,” he said. “We’re going to have one of the better farm systems in the entirety of the league. I’ve said this consistently, it’s not a trophy for me. That is so that we can bring up players that are going to come up and be guys that are going to help us win a World Series.”