When general managers seek out each other during this time of year to discuss roster movement, the GM with the better pitching prospects tends to hold the cards when it comes to a potential bargain. Every GM seeks out better pitching and luckily for the Arizona Diamondbacks, pitching is one thing they have in abundance. If a deal is going to happen with the D’Backs in which they get back a major league ready position player (namely, a shortstop), rest assured that one or more of Arizona’s young arms will be included in the deal.
With the signing of former Oakland A’s pitcher Brandon McCarthy on Saturday, the Diamondbacks now have a starting rotation that will almost certainly feature Ian Kennedy, Wade Miley, Trevor Cahill and McCarthy. At the beginning of the season, it looks like four men will battle for the fifth spot in the rotation: Josh Collmenter, Trevor Bauer, Tyler Skaggs and Patrick Corbin.
Collmenter is the longest tenured of the four and has the most experience of the group, but has had his issues as a full-time starter (5-3, 3.69 ERA in 90.1 innings pitched in 2012). Bauer’s brief tenure in the big leagues last year was marked by poor pitching performances (1-2, 6.06 ERA in 16.1 IP in 2012) and the fact that his routine and demeanor caused waves in the dressing room. Skaggs had the opportunity to start a few games late in the season with some mixed results (1-3, 5.83 ERA in 29.1 IP in 2012), but showed promise. Corbin was somewhat effective as a starter, which earned him multiple call-ups throughout the season (6-8, 4.54 ERA in 107 IP in 2012).
If you add in two more young pitchers in Archie Bradley (12-6, 3.84 ERA in Class-A South Bend last season) and David Holmberg (11-8, 3.32 ERA between Class A Visalia and Class AA Mobile last season), Arizona has a minor league pitching system that has to be the envy of many organizations. General Manager Kevin Towers has an trunk full of riches to deal from.
The situation becomes a little easier to predict if the D’Backs use their pitching strength to deal one or a number of the young starting pitchers for an upgrade at shortstop. Towers says that he is open to listening for deals that include other positions on the field, but the one glowing weakness appears to be at shortstop.
Even if a deal is not struck between the D’Backs and potential suitors, they can always position themselves to be in the discussions near the trade deadline with the pitching that they have. Daniel Hudson will return (most likely in July) and that could bump one of the aforementioned pitchers from the rotation.
Whichever one of the six young arms does win the 5th spot in the rotation, he will have earned it. The competition for that spot will be one of the most hotly contested throughout all the big leagues during training camp. Those that do not win the job, will be on the market. Even if one of those pitchers wins the 5th spot, Towers could see it as an audition for other teams to look at what we have and then replace them with another young, capable arm if the right deal comes around.
With the addition of Brandon McCarthy, the Arizona Diamondbacks are sitting pretty when it comes to the future of their pitching staff and do not be surprised if the patient and strategic general manager of the D’Backs uses this strength to his advantage in future deals.