The struggling Arizona Diamondbacks were dealt another devastating blow on Saturday night, as center fielder A.J. Pollock was hit by a pitch on his right hand. He fractured it and will need surgery, sidelining him for the next 6-8 weeks. With Pollock joining regular left fielder Mark Trumbo on the the disabled list, Arizona is down to Gerardo Parra, Cody Ross, Ender Inciarte, and David Peralta, a 26-year-old former pitcher they recalled from Double-A who has spent most of his career in independent ball. Parra is the only one of them hitting over .200.
It’s not like they have a whole lot of minor leaguers close to being ready to fill the spots, either; 20-year-old Stryker Trahan is the only outfielder ranked among the D-Backs’ top 10 prospects by MLB.com, and he’s hitting .200 in Low A-Ball. 28-year-old Tony Campana and 27-year-old Roger Kieschnick, who had spent time with the big-league club earlier this year, obviously were so unappealing that the Diamondbacks decided to go with the completely unproven Peralta instead.
This situation could be very intriguing for the St. Louis Cardinals. Longtime Cardinals manager Tony La Russa was named the Diamondbacks’ chief baseball officer on May 17, meaning that he’ll be in charge of the organization’s personnel. La Russa has managed the Cardinals recently enough that he’s built up relationships with many of their current players, and there are probably a few of them that he wouldn’t mind reuniting with.
Seeing as the Cardinals currently have an outfield surplus that includes Matt Holliday, Allen Craig, Randal Grichuk, Oscar Taveras, Peter Bourjos, and Jon Jay, as well as proven major-leaguer Shane Robinson and big-league ready prospect Stephen Piscotty waiting at Triple-A, they could stand to clear the jam. They’ll be forced to face the roster crunch when first baseman Matt Adams returns from the disabled list, which is expected to occur within the next few weeks. If La Russa needs an outfielder now and the Cardinals need to get rid of one, it would make perfect sense for the Cards and Diamondbacks to at least explore the possibility of a trade.
Though it would be ideal for La Russa to replace the righthanded-hitting Pollock with another righty, the most desirable and attainable player for him would likely be the lefthanded-hitting Jay. After all, with Jay possessing substantial starting experience, capable of playing every position in the outfield, and hitting .281, it would make sense for Arizona to go after him and plug him in as an everyday player.
While Jay has been a fine contributor to the Cardinals this year, it would probably be wise for general manager John Mozeliak to dispose of him. Grichuk is arguably the team’s center fielder of the future, yet manager Mike Matheny has played Jay ahead of him twice since he was recalled from Memphis on Friday. The Cardinals could solve this issue by sending Grichuk down again, but if they’re going to keep him up he needs to play for his presence to be warranted. By giving Jay a fresh start, it both ensures that he’ll be able to play regularly like he deserves to and remove the temptation for Matheny to play him instead of Grichuk.
If the Cardinals want to continue to hold onto Jay, they could at least see if Matheny has any interest in Robinson. This would clear up a space on the 40-man roster and in the crowded Memphis outfield, and it would give Robinson an opportunity to play in the majors again— one he’s not likely to get in St. Louis.
While the Cardinals shouldn’t necessarily expect a huge return for Jay or especially Robinson, they might be able to get something semi-decent since Arizona is in such desperate need of outfield help. Eight of Arizona’s top ten prospects are pitchers that are at Double-A or Triple-A, with another currently in the majors. With La Russa and new pitching consultant Dave Duncan, who oversees pitchers throughout the organization, the D-Backs are likely going to do some retooling to their organizational philosophy anyway, so it might be a good time for the Cardinals to try to build up some much-needed pitching depth in the upper minors.