After going through the trade market for Domingo Santana, we found that the Arizona Diamondbacks were the likeliest landing spot for the Brewers outfielder. That result is entirely contingent on J.D. Martinez leaving in free agency. If he leaves, the D-Backs will have a big hole in the corner outfield.
Coming off a Wild Card appearance, Arizona wants to build off their success in 2018. They will need a slugger to add to their lineup. They have an area of strength that the Milwaukee Brewers are interested in. The D-Backs have depth in the rotation and could look to deal from it to get Santana.
In the past, these two teams have linked up for trades. Most recently, the Brewers sent Jean Segura to Arizona for Chase Anderson, Aaron Hill, and Isan Diaz. That trade worked out well for both sides. Could another mutually beneficial trade be worked out? There are a couple options if the Diamondbacks wish to acquire Santana if they don’t re-sign J.D. Martinez.
Possible Trade Scenario #1
A straight up, one-for-one swap of Santana and Robbie Ray. Two studs that play two different positions. Ray was absolute dynamite in 2017. He posted a 2.89 ERA in 28 starts covering 162 innings. He posted a phenomenal 12.1 K/9 and a 5.5 WAR.
Santana hit 30 homers with a .278/.371/.505 batting line this year. He does have his flaws, however. He struck out 29.3% of the time and he isn’t a great defender. Ray is also far from flawless, too. Ray posted a 3.9 BB/9 this year. That high of a walk rate is quite concerning and he allowed 23 home runs this year after allowing 24 home runs in 2016.
Ray, 26, could easily be a top guy in the Milwaukee Brewers rotation for years to come and Santana, 25, could fit right in the middle of Arizona’s lineup behind Paul Goldschmidt and Jake Lamb. Ray is controllable for the next three years as he goes through arbitration while Santana still has another year before he reaches arbitration.
Why does this deal make sense?
As a lefty, Ray is even more desirable to GM David Stearns. The value these two provide on the field is fairly even, perhaps slightly tilted in Ray’s favor, but the extra year of control on Santana should help balance that.
The Diamondbacks are most likely going to be reluctant to move Ray in any sort of trade, no matter what the return is, and that’s completely understandable. But if they lose Martinez in free agency, they will be desperate for some production in the corner outfield. They have pitching depth right now and could trade from it to satisfy bigger needs. If they want something better than a stopgap and don’t want to ruin the already shallow farm system, they can send Ray for Santana. Stearns could have to throw in another player just to sweeten the deal for Arizona.
Possible Trade Scenario #2
In this deal, the Milwaukee Brewers get a different member of the Diamondbacks rotation in Taijuan Walker. Walker, 25, was productive last year, but he has nowhere near the ceiling and potential of Robbie Ray. Walker pitched to a 3.49 ERA with 157 innings pitched over 28 starts. He doesn’t have the big strikeout numbers but he cut down on the amount the home runs he allowed this year.
On the flip side of that, his walk rate spiked from 2.5 BB/9 in 2016 to 3.5 BB/9 this year. That’s a major concern. Still, this year proved that Walker can be an effective mid-rotation starter. But he isn’t valuable enough to go in a one-for-one deal for Santana. Arizona will need to improve the return package.
Jon Duplantier is the D-Backs second best prospect. He dominated the lower levels of the minors this year. He pitched to a 1.39 ERA across both Low-A and High-A levels this year. Opponents hit only .192 against him and he gets a lot of ground balls. He sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and has a power curve. Duplantier could rise quickly through the minor leagues.
Alex Young is Arizona’s 16th rated prospect and he put up a pretty good season in Double-A this year. The southpaw posted a 3.68 ERA over 24 starts and could be a back-end starter at maturity. He doesn’t throw that hard but he has a great slider and profiles as more of a crafty lefty than anything else.
Why does this deal make sense?
With Santana going to Arizona to fill the potential void that Martinez could leave, the Milwaukee Brewers get a current #3 starter with the potential to be a #2, a fast rising prospect that could front a rotation someday, and lefty that could start or be effective out of the bullpen.
Those are two options for trade packages if Arizona misses out on Martinez. With a weak farm system, the D-Backs will need to deal from their Major League rotation. Ray has a ton of value. Walker has value as well but his ceiling is much lower and will require prospects to be included in the deal.
With the off season moving as slowly as it is, a trade like this won’t be completed until January at the earliest. Arizona will expend all their energy on the free agent options before they consider either of these deals. If all of the slugging corner outfielders pass on Arizona, they could come calling on Santana.