Trade deadline: D-backs rumored to be sellers, Sox have ties originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It's that time of year.
With summer upon the Major League Baseball season, teams are forced to start figuring out whether they'll be buying or selling at the trade deadline.
But some teams can figure out the answer to that question already, and the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks — who woke up 18 games out of first in the National League West — are one team that looks destined to be selling. Actually, according to FanSided's Robert Murray, the D-backs are already starting the selling process, supposedly making left fielder David Peralta available in trade talks.
Is that where the Chicago White Sox, in first place and heading toward obvious "buyer" status, come in?
The South Siders have dealt with a couple gaping holes in their outfield for a while now, left fielder Eloy Jiménez out since the end of spring training and center fielder Luis Robert out the last month. Both are expected to miss multiple more months as they make their recoveries. So even if there's hope that one or both could return for the playoff push, that's still a lot of time to be without two middle-of-the-order bats.
While Andrew Vaughn has done a more than serviceable job in left field and Adam Engel's return from a lengthy injured-list stay ought to be a boost, the White Sox outfield might still be in need of reinforcements. Should Rick Hahn, who talking about potential trades to solve for the absences of Jiménez and Robert said that his front office would see "if the juice is worth the squeeze," be placing some calls to Phoenix?
It would make sense, not just to ask about the reportedly available Peralta but to ask about Ketel Marte, as well. The duo of D-backs outfielders could be an interesting solution for the White Sox as they continue chasing a championship with two of their most important players on the mend.
Both players' contracts run past the end of the 2021 season, the 33-year-old Peralta under control through 2022 and the 27-year-old Marte through 2024, thanks to a couple of team options. So any deal would be with an eye on more than just this year.
But also noteworthy is that the White Sox have ties to the D-backs and to those specific players, chiefly in the form of their manager. During his decade-long stint between skippering the St. Louis Cardinals and returning for a second go-round with the White Sox, Tony La Russa served as the chief baseball officer for the D-backs from 2014 to 2017. During those four seasons, he was in charge while Peralta and Marte made their way to the major leagues and likely can provide some insight, if needed, into these possible trade targets.
La Russa was also the head honcho while Jake Lamb was coming up with the D-backs. La Russa and Lamb are now reunited, the manager saying he was "very familiar" with the infielder-turned-outfielder when the White Sox added Lamb at the end of spring training. Lamb, who's turned out to be a solid pickup for the White Sox, is that other connection to Peralta and Marte and has nothing but good things to say about his former mates.
"He's one of my favorites. He's one of my good friends,," Lamb said of Peralta, talking to NBC Sports Chicago last month. "He's an unbelievable guy and a great player.
"The fact that he's a pretty good left fielder even though he's — I give him crap. He's not slow. He claims that he's extremely fast, but he's afraid to steal some bags. So me and him always go back and forth on that.
"But the guy's extremely consistent, both in the outfield (and at the plate). He's a consistent teammate, and he's obviously a great hitter."
Peralta's track record is a good one, no doubt. The lefty hitter has won both a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove. He's not off to the greatest start this season, with a .245 batting average and an on-base percentage just north of .300.
That wouldn't seem to be a vast improvement over what the White Sox are getting from Vaughn, if it's an improvement at all. But considering the White Sox have been forced to deploy an all-infielder outfield as recently as Saturday, someone with history of playing good outfield defense wouldn't be unwelcome.
Plus, considering his age and current offensive numbers, Peralta might not command the type of package that would yank any important pieces away from the White Sox long-term planning.
Marte, on the other hand, is a more intriguing option, and he's been one of the game's underrated hitters in recent years. He finished in the top five in the National League MVP vote in 2019, and he's rocking a jaw-dropping 1.023 OPS this season. He's played in only 23 games, missing a big chunk of time in April and May, but he's hitting .349 since returning.
Marte would suddenly become a part of any long-term planning, with three seasons, including options, left on his deal. That, though, could force the White Sox to choose between swinging an important trade for this year's championship chase and potentially losing someone they've long planned on being a part of multiple championship runs. Of course, netting a player like the versatile Marte would ease that blow.
"He's a stud," Lamb said of Marte. "The fact that he can bounce between second base and center field and play them at an elite level is extremely impressive. Another great guy to have in the clubhouse, lots of energy, and he brings it every day."
There will be plenty of speculation to come as the trade deadline nears, and thanks to the production the White Sox have gotten from the fill-ins they've deployed in the absences of Jiménez and Robert, there's not as grave of urgency to swing an impact deal as there could have been.
But a call to the desert could provide some reinforcements, with two good ones available on a team that seems ready to sell.