The Arizona Diamondbacks’ recent surge in the standings creates a problem that general manager Mike Hazen may need to address.
Just two weeks ago on Tuesday, the team was 3-8 and had lost three in a row. The D-backs have since gone 9-3, meaning that their recent prosperity could force them to invest more in the club to get it into the postseason. Pitching could be a good place to start with that.
As MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi pointed out, intended ace Madison Bumgarner is injured while Robbie Ray and Luke Weaver respectively have 8.59 and 11.85 ERAs entering Tuesday (to Ray’s credit, he did throw five no-hit innings on Sunday).
What’s more, the D-backs have the third-worst starting pitching ERA (5.62) in the majors, playing in a division where the Rockies, Padres and Dodgers are all top-10 in that category.
Morosi suggested the D-backs look to the Detroit Tigers as their ideal trade partner to acquire young but capable pitching.
If Arizona trades for a starter, the best fit would be a pitcher who is close to debuting or already in the Major Leagues. According to MLB Pipeline, the Tigers have four such pitchers among their top 10 prospects, two of whom, Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, will debut this week.
The D-backs have the depth to part with an outfielder in a trade of that kind, as Kristian Robinson, Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll rank among the organization’s top five prospects.
Mize, a 23-year-old right-hander, was the first overall pick in 2018 and will make his MLB debut on Wednesday. He had a 2.55 ERA between Class A-Advanced and Double-A last season. He pitched in college at Auburn, posting a 2.96 ERA there. The left-handed Tarik Skubal pitched in the same two levels as Mize last year and had a 2.42 ERA.
The Tigers’ other two pitchers in their top 10 prospects are right-hander Matt Manning and left-hander Joey Wentz.
The D-backs already made a similar trade last year, dealing their No. 1 prospect, infielder Jazz Chisholm. Arizona sent Chisholm to Miami for Zac Gallen, a starting pitcher who has been lights-out for Arizona since his arrival. He’s got a 2.69 ERA in 13 starts for the D-backs over two seasons.
This suggestion becoming reality would hinge on two things: Whether the Tigers feel the D-backs have the prospects to get a trade done for an elite pitching prospect, and whether the D-backs feel strongly enough about their major league squad and prospect depth that Hazen would be willing to part with top farmhands to invest further in 2020.
The trade deadline is Aug. 31.