Sunday, December 23, 2012

Will the Diamondbacks and Rangers finally make a deal?

Yesterday, the Arizona Diamondbacks inked Cody Ross to a three-year deal worth $26 million.  The outfield in the desert was already crowded and this deal makes it more packed.  

The Diamondbacks’ payroll is now around $95 million, up from about $75.5 million in 2012 and $56.5 million in 2011, and ownership is not forcing GM Kevin Towers to make a trade to get payroll down, though this seems unlikely.

There is no real hole in Arizona’s lineup but they might not be content at third base with a platoon of Chris Johnson and Eric Chavez.  According to MLB Depth Charts, the lineup is also very right handed as six out of the eight everyday guys hit from the right side.

Trade rumors regarding Justin Upton have surfaced all offseason but Jason Kubel is now the outfielder most likely to be traded.  

After Josh Hamilton left for the division-rival Los Angeles Angels, the Texas Rangers are in desperate need of a power bat from the left side.  Outside of newly-acquired A.J. Pierzynski, no other lefty will provide more than 15-18 home runs.

If the season started today, one of the Rangers top prospects Mike Olt would probably be the primary designated hitter.  He is a natural third baseman who could fit into Arizona’s long-term plans.

The only thing holding this type of deal back is that Jason Kubel is not a star player a team would like to trade its fourth-best prospect for (according to Baseball America’s ranking).

One thing Arizona has a lot of is young starting pitching.  If the Diamondbacks wanted to include a second-tier pitching prospect, they may be able to pry Olt away.  One prospect they might be willing to deal is Pat Corbin.  In 107 big-league innings, he had a 4.54 ERA and 86 punch outs to just 25 walks.

There are other teams (White Sox, Rays and Yankees to name a few) who would be a good fit for Kubel, he is set to make just $7.5 million in 2013, but the other options don’t have a player who could immediately help Arizona make a push for the playoffs and get passed the free-spending Dodgers or the defending world champs, the San Francisco Giants.

It will be interesting to see what Towers does as he only has three spots for five above-average outfielders.

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