Diamondbacks 2020 Trades and Releases: Before and After
The 2020 season has been a disappointment for the Arizona Diamondbacks and their fans – and that’s putting it mildly. There were rightfully lofty expectations going in, but the team struggled out of the gate. Any time these types of seasons happen, players leave, either via trade or release. The Diamondbacks have traded five players away and released one after designating him for assignment (DFA). The five were infielder Ildemaro Vargas, outfielder Starling Marte, and pitchers Robbie Ray, Andrew Chafin, and Archie Bradley. Corner infielder Jake Lamb was the one to be DFAed. It has been a little over two weeks since the Diamondbacks made these trades. Chafin, who was injured at the time of the trade, has yet to pitch for his new team, the Chicago Cubs. Here is what has happened to the other “departed Diamondbacks.”
(Note: All statistics run through the end of play on September 15.)
The Diamondbacks designated Ildemaro Vargas for assignment on August 6. In eight games, he had batted .150 (3-for-20) with no extra-base hits, no RBI, a walk, two runs scored, and five strikeouts. This translated to a .160 wOBA and -2.9 weighted Runs above Average (wRAA). Defensively, he was below average, registering -1 defensive runs saved (DRS). Five days later, the Diamondbacks sold his contract to the Minnesota Twins.
While in Minnesota, Vargas showed slight improvement over the 10 games he played. He batted .227 (5-for-22) with a double, a triple, two RBI, three runs scored, a walk, and two strikeouts. This made for a .256 wOBA and -1.3 wRAA. Defensively, he was completely average with 0 DRS. When the Twins activated infielder Josh Donaldson on September 2, they DFAed Vargas to make room for him. Three days later, the Cubs claimed him off waivers.
In Chicago, Vargas has played in three games. He has batted .286 (2-for-7) with a home run and a strikeout. His wOBA is .408, translating to 0.5 wRAA.
Deadline Day Trades
Outfielder Starling Marte came to the Diamondbacks on January 27 in exchange for two minor leaguers. He was one of the few bright spots offensively, batting .311 (38-for-122) in 33 games. In addition, he had eight doubles, a triple, two homers, 14 RBI, five stolen bases in seven attempts, 10 walks, and 23 runs scored. He had a wOBA of .359 and 4.4 wRAA. When he left, he led the team in runs scored, and he still leads the team in stolen bases.
On August 31 – Deadline Day – the Diamondbacks sent Marte to the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league pitcher Humberto Mejia, left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith, and a player to be named later. Marte’s performance has slipped a bit since joining the Marlins. In 16 games, he has batted .266 (17-for-64) with five doubles, three homers, 11 RBI, two walks, and 13 strikeouts. He has a .325 wOBA and a 0.2 wRAA. Defensively, he had -2 DRS with the Diamondbacks and has 0 DRS with the Marlins.
Robbie Ray, heading into his last year before free agency, tweaked some mechanics in the offseason. Instead of improving over 2019, however, he had a disastrous year for the Diamondbacks. In seven starts, he went 1-4 with a 7.84 ERA (171 ERA-minus), 43 strikeouts, 31 walks, six wild pitches, nine home runs allowed, and a 2.000 WHIP over 31 innings.
On Deadline Day, Ray went to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for left-handed reliever Travis Bergen. Since the trade, he has pitched three games. Two were starts, although the third used an opener with Ray as the long reliever. In his appearances, Ray has gone 1-0 with a 4.38 ERA (97 ERA-minus), 14 strikeouts, six walks, no wild pitches, three home runs allowed, and a 1.622 WHIP in 12 1/3 innings.
The last Deadline Day trade sent closer Archie Bradley to the Cincinnati Reds for utility man Josh VanMeter and minor league outfielder Stuart Fairchild. Before the trade, Bradley was 1-0 with a 4.22 ERA (92 ERA-minus), 1.500 WHIP, six saves, one blown save (a game where he still got the win), a 44% inherited runners scored percentage (four of nine scored), and a 5-1-2 Goose Egg-Broken Egg-Meh record. His lone broken egg and two of his inherited runners who scored came in the August 30 game against the San Francisco Giants, his last game in a Diamondbacks uniform. In Cincinnati, he has appeared in four games. He is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA, 0.529 WHIP, a hold, and a 1-0-0 GE-BE-M record.
Jake Lamb, due to the injury bug, fell hard from his 2017 season, one that saw him appear in the All-Star Game. In 2019, he hit below the Mendoza Line; 2020 was even worse. In 18 games with the Diamondbacks, he batted .116 (5-for-43) with a double, an RBI, six walks, and 17 strikeouts. This gave him a wOBA of .194 and a -5.4 wRAA. The Diamondbacks DFAed him on September 10.
Meanwhile, the Oakland Athletics lost half of their starting infield to injury. One – Matt Chapman – is one of the top third basemen in all of baseball. On Monday, the first day Lamb was eligible, the Athletics signed him. That day, he joined the team to play a road game against the Seattle Mariners. With Lamb being from Seattle, this was extra-special for him. In his first game, he went 2-for-4 with a home run and a double. That one game saw him get as many total bases – six – as he had during his entire 2020 campaign with the Diamondbacks. Overall, since joining the A’s, he has played in two games. He is batting .429 (3-for-7) with two doubles, a homer, an RBI, three runs scored, one walk, one strikeout, a .643 wOBA, and a 2.2 wRAA.
The only player who hasn’t improved since leaving the Diamondbacks was Marte, someone who was having a great season with the Diamondbacks. Every other player has improved since leaving. Sometimes players who are either not playing up to full potential or are struggling simply need a change of scenery to turn things around. Why is anybody’s guess, but, as people often say when there really isn’t an explanation, “That’s baseball.”
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Evan is the owner and sole contributor of Thompson Talks, a website discussing the Big Four North American Pro Sports as well as soccer. He also is a credentialed member of the Diamondbacks press corps for Last Word on Baseball. His first and biggest love is baseball.
Evan lives in Mesa, Arizona and loves history, especially of sports. He is the treasurer for the Hemond-Delhi Chapter of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) and also is a USSF and AIA soccer referee. He released his first book, Volume I of A Complete History of the Major League Baseball Playoffs, in October of 2021.
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