The Arizona Diamondbacks are in a situation that nobody envies. They are one of the worst teams in the major leagues with very few desirable trade assets.
Fortunately there is one position where the Diamondbacks have a surplus of trade assets. They have three young shortstops that scouts have been drooling over. Two of them, Didi Gregorious and Chris Owings, have a major league resume general manager Kevin Towers can present to contending teams. The third is 24-year-old Nick Ahmed.
Ahmed was one of the prospects the Diamondbacks acquired in the Justin Upton trade in 2012. The Upton trade is widely considered a failure for the Diamondbacks and they definitely lost the trade. But players like Ahmed give the team hope that it won’t go down in history as one of the worst trades of all time.
Ahmed was having an impressive season in Triple A Reno posting a slash line of .324/.390/.431. He was having a career season but was being blocked from the major leagues by Owings and Gregorious. Owings, the best of the three so far, was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury. With Gregorious having another lackluster major league season the door is open for Ahmed to impress at the major league level.
Generally when a promising prospect debuts, fans get excited and fantasize about the player leading their team to a championship in the near future. But with a team like the Diamondbacks fans wonder what kind of trade value he has. A young shortstop that can hit and has speed certainly has value with contending teams. But the Diamondbacks can’t get a disappointing return for Ahmed just because their season has been more disappointing than the last two Judd Apatow movies.
Towers announced recently that the Diamondbacks are having a sale and that most of their players are available for trade. He said he is hesitant to move one of their young prospect shortstops but would consider if the offer was right.
The Diamondbacks need pitching prospects. They have two elite pitching prospects in Archie Bradley and Braden Shipley. But both of them are having unimpressive 2014 seasons. The only way the Diamondbacks can bring in quality pitching prospects is by parting with one of their young shortstops.
Owings is untouchable for the Diamondbacks. He is slugging an impressive .458 and is part of the Diamondback’s long term plan. Ahmed is the most desirable shortstop the Diamondbacks have that is available. His size and speed are attractive to contending teams and his Triple A numbers are glaring.
Towers needs to strongly consider moving Ahmed. They have no spot for him on the major league roster in the near future. Aaron Hill is playing second base and his contract is undesirable for contending teams. Second base was the other position Ahmed could play. Gregorious does not have as much trade value as Ahmed and trading him makes less sense.
Two contending teams can justify trading for Ahmed. The American League team that needs Ahmed’s bat is the New York Yankees. Of course the Yankees have Derek Jeter playing shortstop and he is not getting out of the lineup this season.
But the Yankees infield has other places where Ahmed could contribute. Brian Roberts is the Yankee’s everyday second baseman and his .655 OPS is unimpressive. Ahmed could play second base and add a spark to the Yankee lineup in 2014 and be the everyday shortstop for the Bronx Bombers after Jeter retires.
The possible National League destination for Ahmed is the Cincinnati Reds. Zack Cozart plays shortstop for the Reds and his having the worst season of his career. His 64 OPS+ is 36 points under league average.
The Reds have pitching prospects to spare that could persuade the Diamondbacks to deal Ahmed. Michael Lorenzen, former outfielder at Cal State Fullerton, is Red’s number two pitching prospect and has an impressive 2.45 ERA in 88 innings at Double A Pensacola. Seven of the Red’s top 10 prospects are pitchers. They can afford to deal one of them along with a mid level prospect for a shortstop like Ahmed.
It will be interesting to see what Towers does with the Diamondbacks roster. Their veteran assets are all under expensive contracts that are unlikely to be traded. The only trade options Towers has are relief pitchers and one of their talented shortstop prospects.