The Arizona Diamondbacks have an interesting dilemma on their hands. They are currently sitting six games out of the lead of the NL West, and are five games out in the wild card race, which is still obscenely tight because of MLB’s decision to add a second wild card in each league this season. With that expansion of the postseason, there are fewer sellers than there used to be, so the trade deadline could see some wild deals because of the capital it will take to secure top-tier talent.
With that in mind, the Diamondbacks not only have to decide whether they want to be buyers or sellers, but they also have to decide whether they want to actually try to get something for their impending free agents, rather than letting them walk for nothing at the end of the year. The main guy in that category is shortstop Stephen Drew, who is due to become a free agent after this season if the D’Backs do not exercise a $10 million option for 2013. He has been asking for a lucrative contract extension for a while now, but the team has been unwilling to do so, given the ankle injury that he is coming off of, as well as the perceived lack of effort that he puts into the game.
Kevin Towers isn’t lacking in teams that he could potentially ship Drew to. The biggest team that has been rumored to be pursuing the shortstop is the Detroit Tigers, and there have been reports that shortstop Jhonny Peralta could be coming the other way in that deal. One piece on the rumored deal called it a “long-shot”, however, and that is even more of a reality right now as the Tigers just acquired Omar Infante to bolster their middle infield in a trade with the Miami Marlins.
In addition to the Tigers, the Oakland A’s and Atlanta Braves are two other teams who could potentially be interested in adding a shortstop, but there isn’t any imminent with either of those teams either.
It has been pretty apparent that the Diamondbacks aren’t going to keep Drew after this season, and even though they just had to put John MacDonald on the disabled list, they still have Willie Bloomquist to play at shortstop in the event that they trade Drew and don’t get a big-league shortstop back in the package. That bit of flexibility may not seem like much comfort in a deal that would almost certainly signal that the Diamondbacks aren’t going to aggressively try to improve before the impending trade deadline, but it would also ensure that the team at least gets an asset or two in exchange for moving a guy who hasn’t exactly been a big clubhouse presence in his time in the Valley.
With about a week remaining until the deadline, there is going to be plenty of speculation as to whether or not a team is going to pony up for Justin Upton, but the more under-the-radar pursuit of Drew could provide just as big a glimpse into what the team is doing, at least on a short-term basis. Dealing Upton would mean that a big rebuild is in the offing, but Drew leaving town would mean that the team is folding their hand for this year and looking to 2013 to make another run at a division crown. With the young pitching and several intriguing positional players working their way through the farm system, the short-term option doesn’t seem all that bad.
The mantra of “wait and see” isn’t exactly the most fun for fans to repeat to themselves, but in this case, it is the only one that is applicable.