The Arizona Diamondbacks saw their bullpen blow 29 saves last season and that tied for the most in MLB with Houston. Finishing second in the NL west at 81-81, the back end of the bullpen was clearly an issue last season and the acquisition of Reed looks good from that perspective. Reed posted 40 saves for the Chicago White Sox to go along with 29 saves in 2012.
The cost for Arizona GM Kevin Towers was highly-touted 3B prospect Matt Davidson, who got into 31 big league games down the stretch. Towers flipped MLB potential for a two-year major leaguer who will be under club control until 2018.
After all the difficulty in closing out games last season, the Diamondbacks were heading into 2014 with a trio of established late-inning pitchers in consideration for the closing role. The deal for Reed reportedly came out of nowhere during the talks of the three-team trade that landed Mark Trumbo. Prior to that transaction, Arizona was looking at Brad Ziegler, David Hernandez and J.J. Putz in the mix for closing duties.
Addison Reed converted 40 of 48 save opportunities in 2013 and he should be the first choice in the closer battle heading into Spring Training. Of the in-house options before the trade, Ziegler was 13-for-15 in save opportunities, though he has never been a full-time closer in his six-year MLB career. Putz went 6-for-11 and Hernandez went 2-for-8, both dismal records.
Reed’s 2013 WHIP of 1.11 is the best of the group.
While Arizona has two future closers who pitched in AA this season, Matt Stites and Jake Barrett, the immediate future features a battle of Reed, Ziegler, Hernandez and Putz. Things may shake out differently in Spring Training, but Reed is the betting favorite.
The cost for the Diamondbacks was another top prospect in Davidson. The organization has recently dealt OF Adam Eaton and LHP Tyler Skaggs, as well as the jettisoning of RHP Trevor Bauer previously. After a surprising division title in 2011, the Diamondbacks have come up short in 2012 and 2013, finishing at 81-81 both years. Over those two seasons, the Giants won a second World Series title to go along with their 2010 crown and the Dodgers bulked up under new, financially formidable ownership. Arizona was close enough to see the top of the division and has had success recently enough to feel that they are in win-now mode.
In the short term, the Diamondbacks have options at 3B, Davidson’s position. Martin Prado gave the club 155 games of .282/.333/.417 while Eric Chavez was just resigned and could provide depth at the hot corner.
The 22-year old Davidson, however, could be a star at a premium position for many years. The Diamondbacks are giving up that potential, after developing it up to a September MLB callup, for the immediate impact that Reed may be able to provide.
Such is the intrigue of player trades in major league baseball.
In this case, Reed and Davidson are very close in age. Reed is about to turn 25 while Davidson is 22 until August of 2014. Reed’s two years at the big league level obviously put him farther down the line on the free agent calendar, but as far as the development process, this isn’t exactly Doyle Alexander for John Smoltz. There is plenty of future on both guys.
The disclaimer always says that you can’t judge who wins and loses a trade for many years. That is especially true in this case. But Reed should be put into the closers role to stabilize that position and give the Diamondbacks a chance to win now. If Davidson bursts onto the scene like Manny Machado or develops into a Scott Rolen or an Adrian Beltre, then the White Sox will have made the more shrewd move. Time will tell.