With the latest trade, the bullpen of the Arizona Diamondbacks continues to evolve
LOS ANGELES – With broken pieces of a lost dream scattered about the baseball landscape, this appears the proper time for Arizona Diamondbacks decision-makers to move forward.
Not that the business is at hand to dismantle a team which many thought was filled with promise and hope, but the pieces did not fit, and the reality of key injuries forced an abrupt change in timing, direction and ultimately, execution and the field.
While general manager Dave Stewart of the Arizona Diamondbacks is not willing to deal core players, smaller segments of veteran players were chipped away, discarded like plaster off a wall and readied for a new coat of paint. In the month of July, Stewart began to transform a marginal bullpen, and the pen was considered a principal source of concern, worry and apprehension.
Just before the All-Star game, Stewart dealt closer Brad Ziegler to Boston, and this weekend, released Josh Collmenter. Telling reporters “we were close to a deal involving a reliever” before Saturday’s game here with the Dodgers, that deal was finalized the night before the recent road trip ended.
At that time, Stewart announced the Arizona Diamondbacks traded veteran reliever Tyler Clippard to the New York Yankees for Vicente Campos, a right-handed prospect, who is considered a starter. Both Stewart, and manager Chip Hale, continuously tell reporters the moves are designed to open opportunities for younger pitchers. That said, the plan ahead, at least for the rest of the 2016 season, seems clear.
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“This is an opportunity to see what younger players can do,” Stewart said Sunday morning sitting in the Diamondbacks dugout before a game with the Dodgers. “Right now, we’ll use Jake Barrett in a closing role and see what (Enrique) Burgos can do as a set-up guy. That leaves Daniel Hudson for the seventh, and I know Hudson has had some problems of late.”
Speaking of Hudson, he becomes a free agent after the current season, and continues to profess his desire to remain with the team. Given his recently maladies and an ERA closes to seven runs per nine innings, the organization will certainly take a close look, regarding Hudson’s future in the desert, before making any judgment.
The Clippard move served two purposes.
First, Clippard, over the past few weeks, fell out of favor with Hale and other decision-makers. Though Clippard signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks just before the start of spring training, he is locked for $6.1 million for next season. Stewart said the Clippard’s trade to the Yankees was not finance-driven, but rather, there is now opportunities for others to step forward.
From the Yankees perspective, Clippard moves into a set-up role, and that was vacated when New York traded Andrew Miller to Cleveland near the trading deadline.
“Tough to see Clippard go,” Hale said before Sunday’s game. “He was brought in for a reason, and he is a good teacher and mentor to guys out there in the bullpen. His success though was not there and it’s now this is an opportunity for others to step in.”
At this point, Barrett, a graduate of Desert Ridge High School in Mesa, moves into the closer role. At the same time, Hale said he will be careful, and not run the reliever out for every situation. Coming into Sunday’s game with the Dodgers, Barrett was 1-0, a 2.79 ERA, and three saves in 44 appearances.
If Burgos now moves into the set-up role, construction of middle relievers now include Adam Loewen and Steve Hathaway, a pair of lefties, Evan Marshall, recalled from Triple-A Reno to fill the roster spot created by the Clippard deal, along with Dominic Leone, Silvino Bracho and Randall Delgado.
One player who could figure into the future of the bullpen is Jimmie Sherfy, a right-hander, who is 1-1 with 0.77 ERA and six saves in 11 games at Triple-A Reno. The issue with Sherfy, however, he is not on the 40-man roster and cannot be called the majors. Until the Arizona Diamondbacks makes a transaction to free a roster spot, Sherfy must remain in the minors.