Ender Inciarte: Starter or Trade Bait?
By Thomas Lynch
Sep 22, 2014; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Ender Inciarte (5) hits a RBI fielders choice in the fifth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
With four hits in last night’s game and another one today, Ender Inciarte has raised his batting average to .275 with an on-base percentage to .318. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ rookie outfielder also has 19 steals in 23 attempts. He has made tremendous strides since being called up at the end of April and is now finishing the season with a flourish. Over his last ten games, Inciarte is batting .395 (17-43) and has an on-base percentage of .358 over the past two months. With the overflow of players in the D’backs’ outfield who are capable of playing every day, it would seem someone is playing his final days with the team.
Is Inciarte the one whose days are numbered?
I would love to say, “No” because he can be a big part of the team’s future. If he is the starter in left, with A.J. Pollock in center and David Peralta in right, you would have one of the top defensive outfields in the game. That would certainly mean Mark Trumbo would be dealt, just a year after he was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Angels. Plus, the D’backs have had a recent history of trading players whose values are low and Trumbo’s would be at the floor because of the amount of time he missed with a stress fracture in his foot. Dealing Inciarte now, where his value is much better than Trumbo’s, could net the Snakes something close to Major League-ready. The D’backs would need a starting pitcher that can eat innings, although one who may be not more than just a .500 pitcher. Despite Inciarte’s terrific second half play, he won’t command a #1 or a #2 starter. Trading Trumbo because of his season and his potential salary in arbitration, would result in a Double A or lower prospect.
I had speculated earlier this season that Inciarte may be nothing more than a fourth outfielder. I would like to stand corrected. However, if most people still believe that thought, the time to trade him would be now. However, given his recent play, he would make a fine leadoff hitter for the D’backs. All things being equal, if Arizona does make a move, I would rather trade either Trumbo or Cody Ross. Giving up the big salary is worth almost as much as getting a player.