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D-backs midseason report: More trades are coming

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- For the first time since general manager Kevin Towers took over in late 2010, the Arizona Diamondbacks will be sellers at the trade deadline. With a capital "S."

Injuries to key players and ineffectiveness by others leave the D-backs with little to shoot for except retooling and avoiding the stigma of finishing with the worst record in the majors.

The D-backs hired Hall of Famer Tony La Russa to the newly created position of chief baseball officer in May, and he is spending much of his time familiarizing himself with the organization and talking baseball with Towers and manager Kirk Gibson. All agree changes are forthcoming, in part to whittle salary from a built-to-win-now, franchise-record $112 million payroll for 2014.

"If I can't bring a couple of tweaks to this thing, then they made a bad decision bringing me on. But I think there are some tweaks," La Russa told FOXSportsArizona.com in late June.

La Russa, Towers and Gibson met with scouts to evaluate the roster in advance of the July 31 trade deadline with an toward the future, and the D-backs already made two moves, sending free-agents-to-be Joe Thatcher to the Los Angeles Angels and Brandon McCarthy to the New York Yankees.

Those were the easy deals. Money will play a part in any others. Infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado and outfielder Gerardo Parra are proven commodities, and because of gluts in the middle infield and outfield, they could be available. Their salaries make any trade more problematic, however. Hill is owed $24 million in 2015-16, and Prado is owed $22 million over the same period. Parra has one more year of arbitration eligibility (at perhaps $6.5 million) before entering free agency.

The D-backs have young, controllable middle infielders in Chris Owings, Didi Gregorius and Nick Ahmed, and the farm system is stocked at third base. After early injuries to outfielders Mark Trumbo and A.J. Pollock, the D-backs got long looks at rookies David Peralta and Ender Inciarte, and they like what they saw.

In potential deals, major-league-ready prospects are the target.

"If you are looking at need, it is probably starting pitching and the outfield," Towers told FOXSportsArizona.com. "You want the best players, but if you have to wait a year or a year and a half for a better player, you do. You move toward getting the best player available."

The 2014 season started on a sour note and never improved. No. 1 starter Patrick Corbin and setup man David Hernandez underwent Tommy John surgery a week apart in late March, and the D-backs struggled to an 8-22 start. Free agent pickup Bronson Arroyo, the team's most efficient starter, pitched through elbow soreness for six weeks before bowing to Tommy John surgery in July.

The D-backs were unable to pick up the slack on the mound. McCarthy did not win any of his 10 starts at Chase Field, and Trevor Cahill struggled so mightily that he was taken out of the rotation in April and optioned to the minors with his consent in June. As part of the deal, Cahill was told he would be called back to the majors this season.

Among NL teams, only Colorado had a worse team ERA, fewer quality starts and a worse ERA from starting pitchers. The Arizona rotation has given up 72 home runs, tied for third most in the majors.

The team's All-Stars, first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and catcher Miguel Montero, were the bright spots on offense. Goldschmidt is hitting .308 with a major-league-high 36 doubles and 16 homers, the only major leaguer with 30/15 at the break. Montero leads major league catchers with 52 RBIs at the break.
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