D’backs Trade Young; Receive Bell, Pennington


The Arizona Diamondbacks had a busy Saturday morning/afternoon.

Heath Bell left pitching friendly Petco and fell apart compiling a 5.09 ERA and a 1.555 WHIP in 2012. Image: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

They announced earlier today Chris Young had been dealt to the Oakland A’s for Cliff Pennington and infield prospect Yordy Cabrera. In a separate but corresponding move, the D’backs sent Cabrera to the Marlins in exchange for Heath Bell and cash considerations as detailed here.

The Marlins will pay $8 million of the $21 million owed to Bell over the next two years; the D’backs will only pay $500 thousand of the $10 million owed to Young. Pennington is due $490 thousand in 2013.

Basically, the D’backs traded away Young and received Pennington and Bell and increased their payroll by $4 million.

The D’backs also exercised JJ Putz’s $6.5 million option for 2013 earlier in the morning. The D’backs bullpen is undeniably deep now with Putz, Bell, David Hernandez and Brad Ziegler all under team control. However, that group will also cost the D’backs $18.65 million in 2013 (using Zeigler’s arbitration number).

In 2012, the D’backs’ payroll was just under $75 million. If the D’backs stay close to that payroll number, those four pitchers will comprise almost 25% of that money. That’s just too much considering the D’backs still need to address third base, a lefty specialist in the bullpen, possibly a starting pitcher and possibly a short stop if they don’t see Pennington as starting caliber.

In 2012, Pennington had a horrific .215 average, .278 on-base percentage and a .311 slugging percentage. In the two seasons prior, he had a .687 OPS. It’s safe to say Pennington isn’t starting caliber.

But the most mystifying portion of this is the Bell trade. If the D’backs traded Young and used the money they saved on Young’s contract to pursue potential free agents at short stop or third base, that’s a smart move. They could have pursued free agents such as Marco Scutaro or even Stephen Drew at shortstop and Kevin Youkillis at third base. Either of those options is better than adding a seventh inning pitcher in Bell and a bench guy like Pennington. It could have even saved the Dbacks money, too.

Better yet, the D’backs could have used that money to re-sign guys like Daniel Hudson and Ian Kennedy. Instead, they spent all that money they saved on the Young deal plus $3.5 million more to sign Bell, who had a 5.37 ERA last season for the Marlins.

The Young trade marks the start of the Adam Eaton era in center field, which is the bright spot here. Eaton has really come on the last couple of years and could be a high on-base guy in the leadoff spot that the D’backs have been searching for.

It’s still a puzzling move. But it’s likely not the last for the D’backs this offseason.

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