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Full Count: Looking back on Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen's history as trade deadline buyer

Jesse Friedman Avatar
July 21, 2023

With the Aug. 1 trade deadline now under two weeks away, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen appears to be headed for unfamiliar territory: buying.

After a series win over the Atlanta Braves, the D-backs are 54-43, two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West lead and tied with the San Francisco Giants for the best record in the wild card race. Had we asked any D-backs fan at the beginning of the year if they would sign up for that, the answer would have been a resounding yes.

The D-backs’ position as a presumed trade deadline buyer is less sturdy than it was a few weeks ago, however. From June 23 through July 16, the team lost 12 of 18 games, including a sweep to the Toronto Blue Jays to start the second half. In that span, the Diamondbacks went from being up 3 1/2 games in the NL West to the outskirts of the wild card race.

Those struggles dampened the mood surrounding what has been a successful year for the franchise.

“We’re still very much right in the thick of this,” Hazen told Wolf and Luke of Arizona Sports on Wednesday. “If we had been building up to 11 games over .500 at this point, you’d be feeling a certain way. We’ve kind of inched down to 11 games over .500 at this point, so it feels a little differently.”

Even so, Hazen said in the interview that how the team performs leading up to the deadline will still have “some effect” on his trade deadline plans. “We need to keep playing well,” he said.

While the series with the MLB-best Braves is over, the D-backs are slated to face several formidable opponents the rest of the month in the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Seattle Mariners and Giants.

If the D-backs stay afloat, Mike Hazen and company will become clear-cut trade deadline buyers for the first time in five years.

Hazen does not have much experience as a deadline buyer, but he was aggressive in both 2017 and 2018 when the D-backs were in the thick of things. Let’s look back on how those moves look now.


Where the Diamondbacks stood heading into the trade deadline

On July 21, 2017, the D-backs were 56-40, trailing the Dodgers by 9 1/2 games in the NL West and holding a one-game lead over the Colorado Rockies for the first wild card spot.

At the time, each league was allotted only two wild card teams, and D-backs and Rockies were far ahead of the rest of the competition. The Chicago Cubs were next in line, trailing the D-backs by 6 1/2 games.

In Hazen’s first year as D-backs general manager, he was clearly in position to buy. And he did.

July 18, 2017: Traded 3B Dawel Lugo, SS Jose King and SS Sergio Alcántara to Detroit Tigers for OF J.D. Martinez

Martinez’s rest-of-season numbers: 257 PA, .302/.366/.741, 29 HR, 65 RBI, 2.4 bWAR

The J.D. Martinez trade was not only Hazen’s best trade deadline move ever. It was arguably the best trade he has made in his tenure as general manager of the Diamondbacks.

In 62 games with his new team, Martinez slashed .302/.366/.741 with 29 homers and 65 RBI. To this day, those 29 homers are the most by a Diamondbacks hitter in any 62-game span in franchise history.

With Martinez in the fold alongside Paul Goldschmidt, A.J. Pollock, Jake Lamb and David Peralta, the D-backs had one of the deadliest lineups in baseball. Having lost five in a row and eight of their last 10 games at the time of the trade, they went 40-30 the rest of the season in large part due to Martinez’s contributions.

The highlight of his short D-backs career came on Sep. 4, 2017, when he homered in four consecutive plate appearances at Dodger Stadium.

The centerpiece of the deal was infield prospect Dawel Lugo, who broke into the majors at age 23 with the Tigers. He played parts of three seasons, but was a below-replacement level player. He is now out of the Tigers’ organization and has not played a major league game since 2020.

Shortstop prospect Jose King was in rookie ball at the time of the deal and reached Triple -A briefly in 2022. He departed the Tigers’ organization as a minor league free agent last year.

Sergio Alcántara played all of 10 games in the majors for the Tigers before being designated for assignment in January of 2021. Ironically, he found his way back to the D-backs’ organization in 2022.

July 31, 2017: Traded RHP Luís Madero to Los Angeles Angels for RHP David Hernandez

Hernandez’s rest-of-season numbers: 18.2 IP, 4.82 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 0.5 BB/9, 0.0 bWAR

The Diamondbacks did not need a closer in 2017 — Fernando Rodney saved 40 games and posted a 2.38 ERA after May 1 — but they were looking for backend bullpen help.

Hazen got it in the form of David Hernandez, a right-handed reliever who pitched for the Diamondbacks from 2011-15.

Hernandez was not a disaster — he held opponents scoreless in 21 of his 26 appearances — but his 4.82 ERA paled in comparison to the 2.23 mark he posted in the first half of the year with the Los Angeles Angels.

In exchange, the Angels received 20-year-old right-hander Luís Madero. By 2019, Madero worked his way up to Double-A, but he was ultimately designated for assignment in 2020.

July 31, 2017: Traded RHP Jeferson Meija to Oakland Athletics for SS Adam Rosales

Rosales’ rest-of-season numbers: 89 PA, .202/.227/.369, 3 HR, 9 RBI, –0.6 bWAR

When Chris Owings fractured a finger the day before the trade deadline, the D-backs found themselves in need of another infielder. So, they acquired Adam Rosales from the Oakland A’s.

Rosales was not a particularly great hitter, but he could his own against lefties and was a decent defender.

Unfortunately for the D-backs, Rosales did not fare particularly well down the stretch, slashing .202/.227/.369.

As would be expected, the price to acquire Rosales was relatively low. Righty Jeferson Meija never made it past A-ball.


Where the Diamondbacks stood heading into the trade deadline

After breaking a six-year playoff drought in 2017, the D-backs spent considerable time in first place in the NL West in the first half of the 2018 season.

On July 21, 2018, the team had slipped to third place at 53-46, trailing the first-place Dodgers by 1 1/2 games and the second-place Rockies by one game. Neither the Rockies nor D-backs owned either of the NL wild card spots. Those belonged to the Milwaukee Brewers and Atlanta Braves, who were 56-44 and 53-42, respectively.

Nonetheless, Hazen and company were aggressive, chasing back-to-back Diamondbacks playoff berths for the first time since 2001-02.

June 6, 2018: Traded RHP Elvis Luciano and LHP Gabe Speier to Kansas City Royals for OF Jon Jay

Jay’s rest-of-season numbers: 320 PA, .235/.304/.325, 2 HR, 22 RBI, –0.3 bWAR

With Steven Souza Jr. and A.J. Pollock on the injured list, the Diamondbacks had an early-season need for an outfielder. They got it in Jon Jay, who had hit .307/.363/.374 up to that point with the Kansas City Royals.

To get him, the D-backs dealt RHP Elvis Luciano and LHP Gabe Speier. Luciano was ultimately claimed off waivers by the Toronto Blue Jays six months after the trade. He never made it to the majors.

Speier made his big league debut with the Royals in 2019 as a reliever. He pitched parts of four seasons in Kansas City with mixed results before being claimed off waivers in 2022 by the Seattle Mariners.

Now, Speier is 28, and he is a decent reliever, posting a 4.11 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP with the Mariners in 2023.

For the D-backs, Jay continued a clear trend on this list. Upon arrival to Arizona, his production level dropped significantly. Jay slashed only .235/.304/.325 with Arizona and was a below-replacement level player down the stretch.

July 25, 2018: Traded C Michael Perez and RHP Brian Shaffer to Tampa Bay Rays for RHP Matt Andriese

Andriese’s rest-of-season numbers: 19 IP, 9.00 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 9.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, –0.8 bWAR

Of all the players that Hazen acquired in deadline deals in 2017 and 2018, none have struggled more than right-handed reliever Matt Andriese. After posting a 4.07 ERA in the first half of the 2018 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Andriese allowed 19 earned runs in 19 innings with the D-backs the rest of the season, including a mind-boggling eight home runs.

Andriese did return the following year, but was only so-so, tallying a 4.71 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 70.2 innings out of the bullpen. The D-backs ultimately moved Andriese to the Angels at the 2020 trade deadline in exchange for right-hander Jeremy Beasley.

In exchange for Andriese, the Rays received catcher Michael Perez and right-hander Brian Shaffer. Perez made his big-league debut in 2018 for the Rays and has since bounced around as a backup catcher for several different teams, most recently the Mets.

Shaffer, a 21-year-old in A-ball at the time of the trade, reached Double-A for the Rays in 2019 but never pitched in the majors.

July 27, 2018: Traded OF Ernie De La Trinidad, OF Gabriel Maciel and RHP Jhoan Duran to Minnesota Twins for SS Eduardo Escobar

Escobar’s rest-of-season numbers: 223 PA, .268/.327/.444, 8 HR, 21 RBI, 0.5 bWAR

Eduardo Escobar’s .268/.327/.444 slash line down the stretch in 2018 does not jump off the page, but he ultimately signed back with the D-backs after the season ended and was one of the team’s better hitters in 2019 and 2021.

Neither of the outfielders traded to Minnesota have made it to the majors, but right-hander Jhoan Duran is now one of baseball’s best relievers. Since making his major league debut in April of 2022, Duran has a 1.95 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 138 strikeouts in 106 innings out of the Twins’ bullpen.

The Twins still have four more years of control of Duran, making him one of the most valuable relief pitcher assets in baseball.

July 31, 2018: Traded RHP Wei-Chieh Huang and Player to Be Named Later to Texas Rangers for LHP Jake Diekman

Diekman’s rest-of-season numbers: 14.1 IP, 7.53 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 5 BB/9, –0.8 bWAR

Right-hander Wei-Chieh Huang was a promising pitching prospect for the D-backs, but he ultimately only pitched in four major league games for the Texas Rangers, walking five and allowing eight hits over 5.2 innings.

The player to be named in the trade was eventually revealed as left-hander Joshua Javier. He never made it past Low-A in the Rangers’ system.

Unfortunately for Hazen and the D-backs, the fact that the team paid a relatively low price for left-handed reliever Jake Diekman does not really improve the optics of the trade. Diekman struggled in 14.1 innings with the D-backs, tallying a 7.53 ERA with his new team after posting a 3.69 ERA in 39 innings with the Rangers.

Diekman departed as a free agent in the offseason.

July 31, 2018: Traded RHP Tommy Eveld to Miami Marlins for RHP Brad Ziegler

Ziegler’s rest-of-season numbers: 21.2 IP, 3.74 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.1 bWAR

While Diekman and Andriese fell apart upon arriving in Arizona in 2018, 38-year-old Brad Ziegler was relatively successful. He had a 3.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 21.2 innings with the D-backs through the end of the season, ultimately spelling the end of his 11-year major league career.

In exchange, the D-backs sent Double-A right-hander Tommy Eveld to the Marlins. Eveld bounced around the Marlins’ minor league system for five years before ultimately landing in the Cincinnati Reds’ organization this year.

Eveld is now 29 years old, and the Reds released him less than two weeks ago on July 9.

In retrospect, this was Hazen’s only trade deadline deal in 2018 that could be deemed a clear win. Granted, it was not a particularly big win at that. Frankly, Ziegler is one of only a few players the D-backs have bought at a trade deadline whose success carried over to his new team.

Follow Jesse Friedman on Twitter

Top photo: Michael Chow/Arizona Republic

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