Dave Stewart and the Arizona Diamondbacks' front office are considering extensions for relievers Brad Ziegler and Daniel Hudson according to a report from Ken Rosenthal.
While Stewart does have the option to offer extensions, according to Rosenthal's report, the two relievers are also drawing some interest on the trade market. This could mean that if the Diamondbacks can't get an extension done--or at least don't have the reasonable expectation of retaining them following this season--the relievers will become increasingly expendable on the trade market.
#DBacks GM Dave Stewart: Teams calling on potential FA relievers Ziegler, Hudson. AZ will consider extensions for both before deadline.— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) June 15, 2016
Both Ziegler and Hudson are eligible for free agency following this season. Though the season is still less than half finished, the Diamondbacks are well below .500 and 11.5 games back of the division-leading San Francisco Giants.
Ziegler--the veteran of the two--will be turning 37 years old at the conclusion of the season. The submariner has been reliably healthy and effective over the past eight seasons, contributing a total of 4.5 wins above replacement by FanGraphs' measure over that time. That makes Ziegler the 46th-most valuable reliever in all of baseball over that time frame, which is in the top 13 percent of all relievers.
Ziegler's changeup is among the most bewildering pitches in all of baseball. According to August Fagerstrom, Ziegler's changeup was the "hardest pitch in all of baseball to lay-off last year." Eno Sarris also broke down how perplexing Ziegler's changeup is, calling it the "rarest pitch in baseball."
Ziegler is throwing it just over 24 percent of the time so far this season but generating slightly fewer whiffs with it this year. In 2014 and 2015, Ziegler's swing-and-miss rate on his changeup was 18.7 and 17.2 percent respectively. In 2016 however, Ziegler is only getting hitters to swing and miss on that pitch 10.1 percent of the time. An interesting anomaly that could be a result of a small sample size, or better advanced scouting from opposing hitters. Interestingly though, in Ziegler's 27.2 innings he has not allowed a single home run.
Hudson is a 29-year old who made his last start in May of 2015, though he only went 3.1 innings. Back in 2011, Hudson had a phenomenal season, finishing 17th among all starters. Since then, he's hit harder times, undergoing two Tommy John surgeries in relatively quick succession. This has been an integral part of Hudson converting into a reliever full-time.
While Hudson appears to be putting up good ERA numbers, he is having some impressive BABIP luck over his 25 innings this season. A ball-in-play has landed for a hit against Hudson only 17.2 percent of the time, down more than ten percentage points from his career norm.
While retaining effective relievers could certainly be in the Diamondbacks' list of priorities, the team could be better off to make the two relievers available this trade season. The team appears to be uncompetitive thanks in part to bold offseason moves that just haven't seemed to pan out. Trading substantial assets for Shelby Miller is the one move that will be looked back on with the most disdain. However, committing $206.5M to Zack Greinke hasn't turned out completely in their favor either.