Everyone in the NL West seems to be interested in trading for Miami's Ricky Nolasco. Everyone but the Arizona Diamondbacks, that is.
On the surface, that seems a little odd, because unlike some other teams in the division, they could actually use him. While starting pitching was supposed to be an Arizona strength, Ian Kennedy (5.21 ERA, 4.78 FIP) and Wade Miley (4.55 ERA, 4.48 FIP) have been disappointing so far this season, and Trevor Cahill (4.29 ERA, 3.93 FIP) is struggling through a bad month. Brandon McCarthy has been out for a month with shoulder inflammation and may not be back until after the All-Star break. Patrick Corbin has been one of the best pitchers in the National League, but if he were to hit a wall sometime late in his first full year in the majors, the Diamondbacks could be in trouble.
But, as Ken Rosenthal reports, Arizona doesn't want to make a deal for a rental. Instead, they're looking at longer-term options that would stick around for awhile. At the top of the list? Two right-handers who may prove very difficult to get — the Cubs' Jeff Samardzija and the Brewers' Yovani Gallardo.
While Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have been proactive in locking down their young core to long-term deals as they rebuild the organization from scratch, Samardzija has — thus far — been left without an extension. Rosenthal's sources say Samardzija wants to play for a winning team, and with two years of arbitration left, he seems content going year-to-year as he continues to improve as a starter. Of course, Epstein and Hoyer aren't stupid — they know just how valuable team control is, and getting someone of Samardzija's caliber for 2.5 seasons at still-below-market-rates would mean giving up quite a haul to Chicago. There's a reason the Cubs haven't gotten any offers for Samardzija yet: teams know the Cubs won't settle for anything less than a godfather offer right now, and really, they shouldn't.
The more attainable target may be Gallardo. Like Samardzija, Gallardo has potentially 2.5 years of team control left if Arizona (or any other team) were to pick up his $13 million team option for 2015. Gallardo hasn't been nearly as good as Samardzija this season, but if the Brewers were to move him — likely officially signaling that they're rebuilding, and not just selling off spare parts in a down season — they would likely require a similarly impressive package. The Brewers have one of the weaker farm systems in the league, with no true impact pitching on the way (most of their starting pitching prospects profile as #3 starters or less). Any deal for Gallardo would likely require a top pitching prospect in return, meaning Arizona would have to ask themselves if Gallardo was enough of an upgrade over Tyler Skaggs or Randall Delgado to make that sacrifice. While Gallardo has posted four straight 200-strikeout seasons and has great career numbers at Chase Field, his control and velocity has started to slip a bit.
The Diamondbacks may have the pieces to put together a deal for either, but considering neither Chicago nor Milwaukee appears to be in a hurry to make a deal, it's unlikely anything happens on either front very soon. At the very least, these make for interesting rumors, and it's important to remember that Kevin Towers has not been afraid to do his own thing in the desert.