The Arizona Diamondbacks are supposedly on the hunt for a top-notch closer. They were once linked with Cincinnati Reds’ fireballer Aroldis Chapman. A prime trade candidate, Craig Kimbrel was dealt from division rival San Diego Padres out east to the Boston Red Sox. I have made the argument that team should not trade valuable prospects for a closer when there are plenty of worthy candidates, particularly Brad Ziegler, who can fit the bill. However, two lower-profile names have appeared on the D-backs’ radar according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN:
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Boxberger led the American League in saves last year with 41 and was selected to his first All-Star Game. The 27-year old right-hander appeared in 69 games while throwing a total of 63 innings. Boxberger struck out 74 batters but also walked 32 and gave up 54 hits, leading to a final ERA of 3.71. Statistically, he was better in 2014 when he compiled a 2.37 ERA while striking out 104 hitters in only 64 2/3 innings. Before coming to the Rays, he pitched in a total of 42 games in 2012 and 2013 for the Padres before being traded to Tampa in January 2014 as part of a seven player deal. Boxberger is arbitration-eligible for the first time this offseason so expect a significant bump in salary from last year’s $521,400 number.
McGee is a 29-year old imposing left-hander who reaches the upper 90’s with his fastball. He is also coming off a season in which injuries limited him to 39 appearances. McGee has pitched in Tampa for the last six seasons and has averaged better than a strikeout an inning with 319 whiffs in 259 2/3 innings pitched. McGee’s best season was in 2014 when he saved 19 games and posted an ERA of 1.89 in 73 games. He has been a bit inconsistent throughout his Major League stay with two seasons of ERA’s over four and two seasons of ERA’s under two. McGee is entering his second season of arbitration with his salary in 2015 coming in at $3.55 million dollars.
Boxberger and/or McGee, while not having the name or pedigree of Kimbrel and Chapman are solid relievers who have closing experience. Or, either of them, if acquired, could be a valuable piece of the bullpen that eventually gets the ball to the closer. Tampa could use one of the D-back outfielders; therefore it appears if management pursues this route of acquiring a reliever via trade instead of free agency, there is a match. We have already identified three other closers that could also be a trade target and three free agent middle relievers. Either Tampa reliever very well could be the best option of all.