With the trading deadline less than one week away, the Diamondbacks figure to the listener rather than the speaker.
Distanced out of the National League West Division race at this point, the organization is not in a position to dictate who they would like to bolster the current roster. Instead, general manager Kevin Towers will guard the phone and likely answer upon the ring.
Limping toward the final line in these final two months of a dreadful and forgettable season, it is not in the best interest of the Diamondbacks now to be heavily involved in player transactions.
While Brandon McCarthy appears to have helped the Yankees, as the stretch run approaches, and reliever Joe Thatcher finds himself in the middle of a pennant race with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the D-backs may unload other players to competitive teams.
At this point, Tony La Russa, Arizona’s chief baseball officer, and Towers will not make changes for neither cosmetic nor substantive reasons. Though his job is rumored to be jeopardy, Towers will likely field the calls from other general managers and enter the dialogue with teams. That’s because LaRussa, clearly familiar with personnel throughout Major League Baseball but not with players in the Diamondbacks’ farm system, will rely on Towers for now.
Should La Russa decide to jump in and begin to ardently plan for the future, that will not likely happen until the seasons ends.
By early October, La Russa should get a better handle on the vision and thinking of field manager Kirk Gibson and Towers, both of whom are signed to return in 2015.
In the meantime, the Diamondbacks could have a few players attractive to those teams in a pennant chase.
One player who could be appealing is third baseman Martin Prado and the Detroit Tigers could be a suitor. Currently, Nick Castellano receives the majority of playing time at third, but he is in first full season in the majors and the Tigers may wish to go with a veteran like Prado down the stretch and into the post-season.
If the Diamondbacks and Tigers make this deal, the result could be two-fold. First, the Tigers just traded a prospect in right-hander Corey Knebel (0-0, 6.23 ERA in eight games) to Texas for reliever Joakim Soria. Knebel was immediately assigned the Rangers’ Triple-A Round Rock, and Knebel was considered attractive trade bait.
Second, if Towers does deal Prado, this will appear that he conceded on the trade which brought Prado to the desert. That was the transaction which sent Justin Upton to Atlanta and ended Upton’s stormy years with the Diamondbacks.
Still, the teams in the race could purge the Diamondbacks roster for help. Second baseman Aaron Hill has been mentioned but, at this point, contending teams appear set. One possible location for Hill could have been the Giants, but Marco Scutaro, who returned July 12 from an injured back, appears back at his old spot for San Francisco.
Over the past few years, Towers has traded a sizable number of pitching prospects so he would not deal from strength. If he was to part with current minor league players, such as infielder Jake Lamb or pitcher Archie Bradley, that would be another compromise on the future, already precarious at best.
At this point Towers will likely have voicemail on for his office phone and his cell fully changed. The days ahead could be filled with interesting calls but the Diamondbacks do not appear in command of the calls. In the current state, Towers is likely in a passive mode and not aggressive in the attempt to move players for the better.
Those transactions, along with decisions on the future of Gibson, Towers and other staff, will likely come from La Russa as early as September 29, the day after the season officially ends for the Arizona Diamondbacks.