The confounding, fascinating Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks are weird.

Well, maybe weird isn’t the best word. “Compelling,” “fascinating,” and “head-scratching” also could work. Arizona seems to operate under their own set of rules, and Dave Stewart and Tony La Russa don’t care how the moves they make are perceived. Over the last year alone, some of those moves include:

  • Trading away Touki Toussaint, their first round pick, exactly one year after drafting him in a glorified salary dump;
  • Giving Zack Greinke a massive contract;
  • Trading away a haul of impressive young players (including Dansby Swanson, taken first overall just months earlier) in exchange for Shelby Miller;
  • Trading a useful member of the starting rotation for Jean Segura, when they already have a logjam in the infield.

The Segura trade is the latest move that left many wondering what, exactly, the Diamondbacks were doing. He’s a decent enough defender, but they already have a better one in Nick Ahmed. Segura is a lousy hitter, just like Ahmed. And while Segura is the same age as Ahmed, he’s already reached arbitration, which is something Ahmed is still two years away from reaching.

Add in Jake Lamb, Chris Owings, and prospect Brandon Drury, and the Diamondbacks now have five infielders for three positions. Not to mention they dealt away Chase Anderson in the Segura trade, a pitcher who won’t blow anyone away but provided useful depth at the back end of the rotation. It was a weird trade, made even weirder by the fact that Stewart seemed to make it clear that Segura has the inside track to be the Opening Day shortstop. Weird.

But so it goes for the Diamondbacks, who have put themselves squarely in win-now mode while taking a puzzling route to get there. Their offense is still dangerous, their starting rotation is solid, and while their bullpen could still use some work, they have plenty of time to make a weird trade for a proven closer. In a division with two of the more loaded teams in all of baseball, Arizona needed to drastically improve if they had any hope of competing for a playoff spot. And they have, making them an intriguing dark horse pick for October.

Still, though: they’re doing things in such an odd way, it almost defies explanation. Stewart and La Russa seemingly put no stock in analytics and new-school ways of thinking, as evidenced by their gutting of the farm system through their puzzling trades. The Segura deal is just the latest move that doesn’t appear to make much sense on the surface, given the quality of the player and the shape of the current roster. And considering the prospects they’ve traded away, Stewart and LaRussa had better hope they win this year because there won’t be much help coming in the future.

None of this matters if the Diamondbacks win, of course. Fans don’t care much about how a team wins a World Series so long as they win it, and there aren’t any asterisks on championship flags. But anything short of a championship may be a disaster for Arizona when taking into account all of the moves they’ve made.

The Diamondbacks are baseball’s most weirdly fascinating team, for better or for worse. And as long as Stewart and La Russa are running things, that doesn’t figure to change any time soon.

About Dave Tobener

Dave Tobener has been writing about baseball for the better part of a decade. He's been to more Giants games than he can remember and was there when Ruben Rivera forgot how to run the bases. Follow him on Twitter: @gggiants