Blue Jays: What the Diamondbacks Might Have to Offer?

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 23: Starting pitcher Caleb Smith #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 23: Starting pitcher Caleb Smith #31 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches against the Milwaukee Brewers during the first inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on June 23, 2021 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

According to multiple reports, the Arizona Diamondbacks are close to a deal with the Chicago White Sox for infielder Eduardo Escobar. Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests the D-backs are “embarrassed by their play” and “the verge of dumping players [beginning with Escobar]” and the Blue Jays could use this to their advantage.

And like the Orioles, Tigers, Royals, Rangers, Pirates and Rockies, FanGraphs gives them a zero percent chance of making the playoffs. The D-Backs are 22-58, and have gone 7-43 in their past 50 games, which includes a major league record 24 game road losing streak.

Which Diamondback Players Might the Blue Jays Target in Trades this July?

So after pending free agent Escobar, who the ChiSox apparently want to fill in at 2B for the injured Nick Madrigal (out for the season), what might Arizona have to offer the Jays ahead of the July 30th trade deadline?

More from Toronto Blue Jays News

Toronto acquired starter Robbie Ray from Arizona last year at the TDL, and has also acquired relievers Travis Bergen and Jeremy Beasley from the D-Backs in separate trades this year.

The switch hitting Escobar himself might be interesting if the rumoured deal with Chicago falls through. He’s started 47 games at 3B and 25 games at 2B this year, and would offer a power bat upgrade over Santiago Espinal at the hot corner. Another left-handed bat against RHP would also help given Rowdy Tellez’s ongoing struggles; Escobar has slugged 17 home runs, with 12 coming from the left side of the plate against righties.

His defense at 3B isn’t a difference maker, but its not a huge liability either with defensive runs saved (DRS) of -2, outs above average (OAA) of +1, and seven errors 110 total chances (.936 fielding percentage) over 379.1 Innings in 2021. Escobar would at least stabilize 3B for Toronto given Cavan Biggio has seven errors at 3B in only 99 chances (.929) and Espinal has four errors in 92 chances at third (.957). Escobar signed a three-year, $21 million contract extension with Arizona in 2018, and would be owed about $3.9 million through the end of this season as a rental.

Given logjams in the outfield, at catcher, and in the middle infield, let’s assume Ross Atkins won’t be targeting Arizona CF/2B Ketel Marte (controlled through 2024) and LF David Peralta (~2022), or backup catcher Steven Vogt and utility infielder Asdrubal Cabrera, who are both pending free agents. And lefty starter Madison Bumgarner, who is still owed more than $70 million through 2024, might not be in the budget?

Starting pitching help?

Assuming the Jays are targeting more pitching help, Arizona might make starters Caleb Smith and Merrill Kelley available with some years of control.

Lefty Caleb Smith, who turns 30 in late July, will be in his second year of arbitration eligibility in 2022 and a free agent in 2024. He might be the kind of starting pitcher the Blue Jays would seek to acquire given an elite spin rate and low exit velocity off his four-seam fastball which only averages 91.4mph. He’s more of a pitcher than a thrower, with a fastball (48% of his pitches), slider (26%), changeup (17%) and curveball (8%) mix. He’s added a bWAR of 1.2 on a bad Diamondbacks team, with an ERA+ of 135 and ERA of 3.03 in 24 games (six starts) and 59.1 innings. He’s only allowed 45 hits with 67 strikeouts, suggesting swing-and-miss stuff, although he walks 4.6 batters per nine innings. He’s pitched 12 innings in his last two starts, allowing only one earned run, and has a 3.04 ERA in the post sticky stuff era over 26.1 innings since rejoining the D-Backs rotation in June.

32 year old righty Merrill Kelly leads Arizona with 16  starts and 91.1 innings pitched this year. His contract carries a $5.25 million option (no buyout) for the 2022 season which buys out his first year of arbitration eligibility. He features a four-seam fastball (34%), sinker (20%), curveball (19%), changeup (16%) mix, with an occasional cutter (11%). He’s gone 2-0 with only one earned run allowed over 13 innings in his past two starts (also in the post sticky stuff era).


In terms of relievers, 37 year old Joakim Soria is a free agent after the season, and arbitration eligible lefty Ryan Buchter could elicit some interest as well, but both pitchers seem more like “dumpster diving” targets. Neither are great, but Soria used to be able to do this back in 2019 (pre enforcement of the foreign substance rules).

The player the Jays really should be considering as a rental is Eduardo Escobar for 3B, but Chicago may have already beat them to the punch there.

Next. Blue Jays address need with trade for Adam Cimber and Corey Dickerson. dark

After that, the starters with control in Caleb Smith and Merrill Kelley are certainly worth “checking in” on, but after that its mostly “dumpster diving” opportunities at the positions where the Blue Jays have the greatest MLB talent needs. Who would you offer from the Blue Jays system for these players as the Diamondbacks start their fire sale?