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How the Diamondbacks went from Trevor Bauer to Didi Gregorius

Dec 11, 2012, 10:06 PM EDT

Trevor Bauer Getty Images

The Diamondbacks and GM Kevin Towers knew all about Trevor Bauer‘s odd delivery and unusual throwing program when they made him the third overall pick in the 2011 draft. If they had questions about him then, they overlooked them in order to get one of the top talents on the board.

Now, a year and a half later, he’s gone, essentially traded for a middle infielder who has hit .271/.323/.376 in five minor league seasons. Didi Gregorius is the Diamondbacks’ new hope at shortstop, replacing the old hope of Bauer at the top of the rotation.

Gregorius, for what it’s worth, signed with the Reds for $50,000 out of Curacao in 2007. Bauer got a $3.45 million bonus and a four-year, $4.45 million contract upon joining the Diamondbacks last year.

Not only is that money gone, but the Diamondbacks passed on such talents as the Orioles’ Dylan Bundy, the Nationals’ Anthony Rendon and the Indians’ Francisco Lindor to draft Bauer. It’s safe to say that Gregorius wouldn’t have been of much interest if they had taken Lindor, now one of the game’s best shortstop prospects.

That the Diamondbacks’ relationship with Bauer had soured was obvious. The two parties disagreed about his throwing program. Whispers about attitude problems had become pervasive. Some of Bauer’s tweets also rubbed people the wrong way.

It’s all stuff that likely would have been overlooked had Bauer seemed well on his way to becoming an ace. However, fluctuating velocity and spotty fastball command had damaged his stock to some disagree.

Regardless, I still think trading Bauer, Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw in exchange for Gregorius, Tony Sipp and Lars Anderson was a lousy idea for the Diamondbacks. But nor do I imagine Towers picked it over a bunch of superior offers; the fact is that everyone knew that Bauer was out there and no team seemed all that eager to take the plunge.

The big concern I have is the way the Diamondbacks are bleeding talent. I’ve liked their two biggest free agent additions to date (Brandon McCarthy and Eric Chavez), but trading Chris Young for a now obsolete Cliff Pennington and an overpriced reliever in Heath Bell was a net loss, as is this latest deal. Towers also traded a semi-intriguing corner infielder in Ryan Wheeler for  a generic left-handed reliever in Matt Reynolds. In an effort to fill gaps now, Towers has increased the likelihood that there will be bigger holes in the future.

  1. Sign Ahead - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    As a Diamondbacks fan, I am completely baffled.

    • Caught Looking - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:52 PM

      It’s still better than being a Suns fan.

      • xavier46 - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:19 AM

        Which is still better than being a Cardinals fan

        Which is still better than being a Coyotes fan, right now

      • qcubed3 - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:20 AM

        And that’s still better than being a AZ Cardinals fan.

  2. foolmaker - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:17 PM

    It’s like all the other GMs realized that Towers gets confused when more than two teams are involved and are trying to take advantage of it.

  3. somekat - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    In general, I think with baseball you want to have as many top talent prospects as possible. Regardless of position. Guys flame out in baseball at all different levels for a variety of reasons. Some can’t adjust to increased competition, some have a flaw that gets exposed that they can’t fix, some just don’t get any better, etc etc. It happens at every level, from summer ball to the majors. Baseball is the hardest sport to project prospects.

    For that reason, I think it’s dumb for the Diamondbacks to worry about filling holes now. They aren’t good enough, IMO, to be considered a top tier favorite to win it in the next year or two. So filling holes with stop gaps for young guys is a bad move, period. Unless they are bringing in another young guy to replace it. For that reason, this trade by itself isn’t as bad. But most of the moves up to this one lately have been

  4. sunsation3413 - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:21 PM

    Great! another Phoenix sports team going in the wrong direction…

  5. hammyofdoom - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:25 PM

    I am never one of those guys who thinks that I’d do a better job at running a team than the guys who are ACTUALLY running the teams, but there have been a few moves lately that have left me really really curious. Between this trade and the Wil Myers one I cant help but wonder how these top prospects keep going away in trades that most people outside of the organization see as totally balanced against the team trading away top-tier prospects.
    Do they just seem them play every day and know their flaws better than journalists and fans do? Did they really value the pieces they got back higher than most of the other people looking at these trades? Seriously I’m completely baffled at some of these trades, for it seems like the only people who feel confident in the trade are the people who made it. Lars Anderson is a bust of a prospect, Gregorious seems to have no bat and Tony Sipp is a pretty ok bullpen guy. I just.. I just dont understand

    • paint771 - Dec 11, 2012 at 11:13 PM

      Not speaking to this specific trade, but as a general rule:

      Somebody much smarter than me really ought to do some kind of comprehensive financial estimation of “upside”. But in general, MOST prospects – and I’d bet this is true even if you count first rounders – do not become productive major leaguers (nevermind All Stars). Even if you just constrained it to AA/AAA guys + first five round draftees, I’d bet you’d be looking at something in the neighborhood of 10 to 1 busts to quality regulars. For every can’t-miss dude like Alex Rodriguez, there are probably 500 dudes who at one point or another are an organization’s Top Ten prospects or first round draft picks who never make anything of themselves.

      Seriously, go through AAA rosters from 2, 5, 10 years ago. Check out the first round draft boards from those time periods. And don’t just focus on the names you know – really start counting up the filler.

      But from a fan perspective, and from a certain type of GM perspective, that “upside” thing is so alluring. Sure, our entire rotation and lineup is filled with “upside” guys who eventually turned out to be who they are (for better or worse; and those are the ones that actually panned out), but that next guy on the horizon…ace!

      It’s the two in the bush problem. A guy who has hit .271 in five minor league seasons will probably hit around .271 next season. A guy like Bauer…well, who knows. May become an ace. But, more likely, flames out and never sticks in the bigs. But for some reason, we always focus on the ace.

      Smart GMs know this. They evaluate their minor league talent, and deal them if they believe their “upside” is bigger than their “probably” side (because enough starry-eyed GMs only see the upside part). And from a fan perspective, everybody will always say “why would I want a middling middle infielder versus a just-around-the-corner flamethrowing #1 starter!” and not “why would I want a middling middle infielder versus a guy selling used cars in Toledo in five years!” And the f’ed up part – almost no matter the prospect, you’re more likely to be right with the latter than the former. Every time.

      Like I said, somebody smarter than me will quantify that at some point. But also like I said, smart GMs already know this, and will bait other clubs to part with guys who can actually play MLB-level ball for guys who, you know, might magic themselves into Cy Young winners. Sometimes, of course, you get wildly burned doing that – dude DOES become a Cy Young winner. Most times though, you’re probably right.

      • Mark - Dec 12, 2012 at 6:39 AM

        They’ve already done this research. Skip to Route 2 on this link:

        http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2009/7/20/950254/which-is-better-compensation

        A top 10 pitching prospect holds about $15M in value. We can safely say that Bauer is a top 10 pitching spec – so the question is did the D-Backs get that?

        Sipp has negative value, so definitely not.

        I’m not even sure if we’d call Anderson a prospect anymore, but he’s not that valuable either. A 1B who hasn’t put up an 800 OPS since 2010? I’d assume he’s maybe a C at best type “prospect”, so that’d be worth $0.5M.

        Gregorius got a C+ according to Sickels, so again, he’d be around $0.5M.

        So breaking down the values of the guys they received, they barely got $1M back in value. And they traded a guy in Bauer who was worth at least $15M.

        Even if you don’t like the math involved, the conclusion is pretty damn obvious – it’s one thing to sell high on a guy you think will bust, it’s another entirely to get rid of him for guys who are absolutely worthless. Given Bauer’s potential they should have been able to get a hell of a lot more than a worthless 1B, a below replacement level reliever and a mediocre SS prospect.

  6. schlom - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:30 PM

    However baffling this move seems I think you have to give Kevin Towers the benefit of the doubt because of his incredible trade record with the Padres.

    • paperlions - Dec 12, 2012 at 7:47 AM

      Is sarcasm really that hard to detect?

  7. chacochicken - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    There is still time to give away Justin Upton. Who has albatross of a contract to unload? Vernon Wells? Alfonso Soriano? Maybe make it another 3 or 4 team, include the A’s and somehow get nothing in return?

  8. aarondommin - Dec 11, 2012 at 10:41 PM

    The chris young trade looks awful in hindsight to the deals given out at the winter meetings and this current trade of acquiring ANOTHER SS. The smart thing for Towers would have been to wait until the winter meetings to see what contracts were given to the 3 CFs on the market and gauged the CY market then. That being said selling now on Bauer was the right move. He was AWFUL in his brief stint with the major league club and NEVER got his walks under control in the minors. His ceiling clearly wasn’t Tim lincecum. He was looking more and more like a bust. But you can’t bash this trade because they should have drafted Lindor or Bundy. They cut bait on a bust a year before his value would have been zero.

  9. dieterlaser - Dec 12, 2012 at 12:06 AM

    I can’t believe Anthopolous and the Blue Jays didn’t find a way to sweep in a snag Bauer. That’s the kind of player, who’s former team soured on him, that AA finds a way to acquire. Oh well, maybe they’ll get Justin Upton for peanuts.

  10. thelmt82 - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:03 AM

    As an Indians fan, I still have no idea how the team managed to get Trevor Bauer without giving up Asdrubal Cabrera. I mean, Choo was going to be out the door at the end of the year anyway. So I would like to thank Kevin Towers for thinking 6 years of Gregorius would be better than 2 years of an all-star short stop. Kudos to Chris Antonetti for pulling a Billy Beane (of sorts). And don’t expect much from Tony Sipp. 31 homeruns surrendered the last 3 seasons for a short reliever. And I know AZ is a hitters park, is it not?

  11. seeingwhatsticks - Dec 12, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    Smaller payroll teams need to either be going for it or gathering talent for the future. Unless you’re willing to spend $75+ million (or you’re the Rays) there is no third direction, and trying to find one will only extend the amount of time the team will have to be a doormat before they can contend in the future. This move, and the one made by the Royals, are moves that don’t put them squarely into contention now and seem to hurt them in the future. Even if the DBacks had soured on Bauer you have to think they could have gotten much more for him by pretending they love him and getting him back on track in 2013 and then trade him at the deadline or in the offseason. Trading your only assets when they’re at the nadir of their value, such as Bauer and Upton, is how you run a franchise into the ground. When you have talent to spare you can give players away because you don’t like their attitudes or they don’t hustle enough, but a team like the DBacks has to be able to turn a top pick into something more productive and more valuable than a limited middle infielder.

  12. rickeye9 - Dec 12, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    Ok, we gave up our top 2 prospect and two solid relievers for a triple A outfielder/1b who is closing in on 30, a reliever who has shown nothing of value, oh wait he’s LH, so valueable even tho you suck, and a SS with no power or speed or plate discipline, and an OK average, well unless he’s better than Ozzie Smith at defense, wtf were you thinking towers? this new SS is not better than Pennington which we traded CY for, There has to be more moves made ASAP or this offseason is a waste.
    After this trade and the others, I can’t wait to see what we get for Upton, a 28 year single A backup catcher? seems legit. what’s the harm of having Bauer pitch in triple a this year? if he doesn’t pitch a single inning this year in the majors, Albers and Shaw are still better than the 3 players the Dbacks traded for, I’m lost for words ( I know I just ranted but wtf was towers thinking)

  13. pappageorgio - Dec 12, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Towers looks lost. He sits on Upton and basically prices him out of anyone’s realistic market. Then turns around a sells Bauer for nothing……seriously I have to wonder if a bag of balls or a catcher’s mask was included.

    Then we have to consider the reason for all of this……It’s not performance based. Towers is moving these guys over personality conflicts. Upton’s numbers have been down, but Towers has gone on the radio and questioned his heart and willingness to play through injury more than once. Ditto Stephen Drew…..Now with Bauer.

    Towers is letting his ego get in the way of doing a good job.

  14. stairwayto7 - Dec 12, 2012 at 3:28 PM

    Baurer goes from a team with little fan support to a team with no fan support!

  15. phxtopgun - Dec 12, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    That’s a picture of Ian Kennedy, not Bauer?

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