Diamondbacks strike first, aim badly

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Arizona GM Kevin Towers wanted to upgrade at shortstop and in the bullpen. And apparently he wanted to make sure he did so 5 1/2 months prior to Opening Day. So, he ended up with these two trades:

– acquires SS Cliff Pennington and INF Yordy Cabrera from the A’s for OF Chris Young and cash
– acquires RHP Heath Bell and cash from the Marlins for INF Yordy Cabrera

I understand the first deal. Pennington is a fine defensive shortstop, and at 28, he’s young enough to bounce back from a horrible offensive season that saw him bat .215/.278/.311. Eligible for arbitration for the first time, he shouldn’t make more than $2 million or so next year.

The problem with the trade is that it’s highly unlikely the Diamondbacks needed to give up Young to get him. I understand that Young doesn’t have a lot of trade value, particularly with center field being the one deep position in free agency this winter, but he’s a quality regular, even with his low batting averages. He’s a very good center fielder, and he has the secondary offensive skills to make up for the strikeouts.

It says a lot for Young that the A’s traded for him even with a Yoenis Cespedes-Coco Crisp-Josh Reddick outfield already under control for 2013. They didn’t need him, and they almost certainly would have given up Pennington for a modest prospect instead, but they simply couldn’t say no to this.

Oh yeah, and the Diamondbacks were nice enough to throw in $500,000 against Young’s $8.5 million salary for 2013 and $11 million option for 2014 (with $1.5 million buyout).

For an Arizona team with Gerardo Parra and Adam Eaton to cover center, it still makes some sense. It may even make the team a little better. I just don’t think it was a proper use of assets.

It’s the Bell trade that’s flat-out foolish. For some reason, Arizona volunteered to pick up $13 million of the $21 million he’s owed the next two years.

Sure, it’s possible Bell will actually be worth that kind of money. But it’s hard to imagine anyone else would have taken on that much of his salary, which is why the Marlins were so quick to make the move. They felt they absolutely had to move him, and they’re jumping for joy that they had to eat a “mere” $8 million to make it happen.

Much of Towers’ strong rep as a general manager comes from the bullpens he built on the cheap in San Diego. Bell was a part of that, coming over from the Mets for Jon Adkins and Ben Johnson before the 2007 season.

The Diamondbacks pen will likely be pretty good once again, too. But it will hardly be cheap. With both J.J. Putz and Bell earning $6.5 million, the Diamondbacks are set to commit at least $20 million to relievers next year, which is an awfully big chunk of a likely $80 million-$90 million payroll.

Maybe it will work out. Bell could bounce back and form a terrific setup tandem with David Hernandez in front of Putz. But it again seems like a poor use of assets. The Diamondbacks ranked sixth in the NL in bullpen ERA this year and were three runs allowed out of third place. The Bell gamble is a luxury acquisition for a team that might come up short on the necessities.

Kenley Jansen expected to be OK for spring training after heart procedure

Kenley Jansen
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Building on a report from early September, Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen is slated to undergo a heart procedure on November 26. The estimated recovery time ranges from two to eight weeks, according to comments Jansen made Friday, and he expects to be able to rejoin the team once spring training rolls around next year.

Jansen, 31, was first diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat in 2011 and missed significant time during the 2011, 2012, and 2018 seasons due to the condition. He underwent his first surgery to correct the irregularity in 2012, but suffered recurring symptoms that could not be treated long-term with the heart medication and blood thinners that had been prescribed to him. Scarier still was the “atrial fibrillation episode” that the reliever experienced during a road trip to Colorado in August; per MLB.com’s Ken Gurnick, the high altitude exacerbated his heart condition and left him susceptible to future episodes in the event that he chose to return to the Rockies’ Coors Field.

Heart issues notwithstanding, the veteran right-hander pitched through his third straight All-Star season in 2018. Overall, he saw a downward trend in most of his stats, but still collected 38 saves in 59 opportunities and finished the season with a respectable 3.01 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 71 2/3 innings. In October, he helped carry the Dodgers to their second consecutive pennant and wrapped up his sixth postseason run with three saves, two blown saves, and a 1.69 ERA across 10 2/3 innings.