Diamondbacks Aren't Done Dealing

The July 31st non-waiver trade deadline has come and gone with the Arizona Diamondbacks failing to add a much-needed bat. A look at Josh Byrnes' short history as their general manager and the last-minute three-way deal pulled off by the rival Los Angeles Dodgers reveals that D-backs prospects could still get sent packing in August.

The Arizona Diamondbacks reportedly showed interest in Mark Teixeira before he was dealt to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and in Raul Ibanez before the non-waiver trade deadline passed.  With the Los Angeles Dodgers netting Manny Ramirez just under the buzzer, you can bet that the D-backs will redouble their efforts to get Ibanez or any other live, available bat in the coming weeks.

For players to be traded between now and the waiver trade deadline of August 31st, they must first pass through revocable waivers. That means if a player is claimed by another team, the original team can nullify the waiver move and keep the player as if nothing happened. If past behavior continues in 2008, clubs all over the game will now begin sending waves of players on their rosters through the waiver process.

Historically, few players are claimed, yet some GMs have been known take the action to block a competitor. The few examples of such a move backfiring have been etched into the minds of general managers everywhere.  Prominent debacles include a Randy Myers claim by San Diego in 1998 and the Yankees getting stuck with Jose Canseco in 2000. In both cases, the claiming team was trying to prevent a division rival from obtaining the player in question, and the blocking move was not stopped, sticking the claiming club with an aging player and big contract to assume.

Though several hundred players do clear waivers and therefore are tradeable each August, few end up changing teams. Josh Byrnes and the Arizona Diamondbacks, however, have a history of being major players in August.  They acquired Livan Hernandez for Matt Chico and Garrett Mock on August 2006.  Last year, the Diamondbacks added Bob Wickman, Jeff Cirillo, and Joe Kennedy in the month of August, although none of those three players cost the D-backs a prospect.

The current prospects in the Diamondbacks' farm system would still figure to worry about becoming the next man expelled from the desert, particularly with two prospects being dealt to acquire Tony Clark and Jon Rauch earlier in the season.  If they do have such concerns, however, they aren't letting it on.

"No one's talking about possible trades or anything like that," assured Visalia Oaks infielder Mark Hallberg, who ranked as the 7th-best prospect in the organization prior to the start of the season.  "We know the Diamondbacks may do something, but no one's worried about being traded."

Hallberg holds this view despite seeing for himself what can happen.  One of his teammates in Visalia, Evan Scribner, was the pitching prospect used to wrest Tony Clark from the San Diego Padres and back to Arizona.

"We were all pretty surprised about that [trade]," Hallberg said. "That was the first time for most of us to have a teammate traded, and it was a 1-for-1 deal for a major league player. We were happy for Evan, and wish him the best."

Starting pitcher Tony Barnette, who skipped the Visalia level in part because of an Arizona system thinned from the eight-player Dan Haren trade last December, reported a similar attitude in Mobile.

"I don't think too many guys are concerned," Barnette began.  "Everybody knows that when it comes to trades, it's completely out of our hands as players.  All we can do is go out there, perform at our best, and if we get traded, we get traded." 

"It's part of the business aspect of baseball, especially as you go up in the ranks, it becomes a little more prevalent in your mindset," he continued.  "But I don't think a lot of guys are letting it get to them." 

That may be true, or these prospects may be saying what they're supposed to say, rather than reveal what they are actually feeling.  Certainly, you will hear Josh Byrnes and several Diamondbacks players say over the next week or so that the Dodgers' acquisition of Man Ram does not phase them, that they will go about their business as before, take it one game at a time, et cetera, et cetera.

"Obviously it's going to help their lineup, but it's really not a concern of ours," Arizona manager Bob Melvin said. "I really don't think stuff like that affects us. We've just got to play our game."

But you know, whether it is said openly or not, that Diamondbacks nation is reeling from what is perhaps the biggest in-season acquisition for the Dodgers in 50-plus years of baseball in LA.  Josh Byrnes will respond, so stay vigilant, but don't believe everything that you hear.

Send questions or comments for Keith Glab to future_backs@yahoo.com

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