Today, the shoe that we were all expecting to drop finally dropped. I'd personally thought this was a long time coming and was an expectation of mine coming into this season, so it's surprising to me that this feels so bittersweet. It really does feel like the end of an era for the Diamondbacks. This feels like the turning point to the next age of Diamondbacks baseball. Enough sappy talk though, let's talk baseball. (Editor's Note: This is the turning point, end of an era, and will forever miss the Freight Train.)
In return for around sixty games of David Peralta, the Tampa Bay Rays sent Minor League Catcher Christian Cerda. Wait, who?
Yes, in return for David Peralta the Diamondbacks received a 19-year-old whose highest level of pro ball was the rookie league. Earlier this week, I read an article from Arizona Sports that broke down a radio interview with D-backs President and CEO where he said something that gave me a lot of confidence about the direction the Diamondbacks would act at the deadline:
"Whatever moves we might possibly make here at the deadline, it’s going to be to improve this team, this Major League roster..."- Derrick Hall, Diamondbacks Pres. & CEO
Call me crazy, but I don't think shipping off a franchise face and an important part of the clubhouse for a 19-year-old catcher is "improving the major league roster." In that same interview, Hall emphasized the current spot of the team in the standings (6.5 games back from a Wild Card spot at the time of the interview) doesn't change the trajectory of their moves, also saying "We’re trying to get this team ready for 2023 and beyond." With this trade, beyond seems like the real target here. I wouldn't expect Cerda to be in the Majors within the next four years, let alone 2023. And it's way too early to even know what he'll grow into.
But fine, let's take a look at the 62 career professional games Christian Cerda has played. All of his professional games were played at catcher. In the 2021 DSL season, he slashed .218 / .366 / .338, good for an wRC+ of 109. In the 2022 Florida Complex League, he slashed .315 / .464 / .519, a phenomenal slash line that carries with it a casual 172 wRC+. And let me remind you: he is a catcher. The standard for "good hitter" falls quite a bit if you're a catcher. Good offensive catchers feel so rare because their game is so much different from other position players. Defense is a much higher priority for a catcher than, say, a corner outfield spot. If he can even approach these kinds of offensive numbers while remaining "good enough" defensively as he rises through the minors, we've potentially got someone very exciting.
I like Christian. He seems like a great player. But this trade doesn't match either my expectations or the stated goals of the organization.
Unless Hazen is going to go all Jerry Dipoto or A. J. Preller and parlay this guy into someone that has a bit more cachet, preferably someone in the upper minors or major leagues, I am really not impressed with this move. Not only does this feel like a strict downgrade for the Diamondbacks' major league roster, but it also feels like a marginal addition for Tampa Bay. As a matter of fact, we had a trade that mirrored this one. Earlier this season, the Diamondbacks traded the Rays for a righty platoon outfielder by the name of Jordan Luplow. How's he been doing recently? He played last night, right? How did he do?
Oh. And he's slashing .175 / .269 / .422, got an 89 wRC+, and he's been worth 0.3 fWAR on the season? Well, you can't win them all, and you especially can't win a trade with Tampa Bay. Let's hope this trade goes a little better.
There is one thing that could salvage this, of course. One man. One shot. One opportunity.
You know what to do, Mike.
I do want to wish David the best of luck in Tampa Bay. David has been a key part of this team, both on and off the field. His energy in every game was infectious and his love of the game was apparent in every at-bat and every diving catch. He was such an important part of the Diamondbacks charity work as well, being the Diamondbacks 2021 (and likely 2022) nominee for the Roberto Clemente award. I don't think any Diamondbacks fan will be able to forget him. Go get that ring, buddy.
Thanks for reading me prattle on about a trade nobody will think about after today until Christian Cerda comes up in another trade or shows up on a prospect roundup two years from now. If you want to follow what I do, follow me on Twitter @xwOBAplus. Let me know if you think this move is secretly genius, I'd love to hear what others think of it.