The following is an account of the phone call that resulted in the Braves-Diamondbacks trade on 6/20/15. Multiple sources (i.e. no one) helped to piece together the events.
Location: Arizona GM Dave Stewart’s office. Tony La Russa and Stewart are watching the Arizona Diamondbacks 2015 highlight reel, aka Paul Goldschmidt’s 2015 highlight reel. The phone rings, Stewart picks it up.
DS: For the last time, we aren’t trading Paul.
John Hart, president of baseball ops, Braves: Hi Dave, it’s John Hart from the Atlanta Braves and I want to talk about someone other than Paul.
DS: Oh okay, who?
JH: I was wondering if there were any pitching prospects you might be willing to discuss.
DS: Hang on let me pull up my list.
Hart smiled. On the first of his two screens, he had the Braves database open. The other screen held the Diamondbacks database. It is an open secret around baseball that the password for the database was: Grittiness123. Not that it helped any of the 29 other teams once they got in. No one understood anything in that database. Most teams have it open during conversations with Stewart hoping that he gives something away during the conversation.
Meanwhile, in Arizona, Stewart and La Russa looked at the list of their pitching prospects. They looked at the name at the bottom of the list, and nodded at each other. They figured there was no better place to start than the bottom.
DS: How much interest would you have in Touki Toussaint?
Hart couldn’t believe that Stewart led with that name. He had figured that he would have to work the conversation towards that name, to see if it was at all possible to pry away one of the Diamondbacks’ best prospects. He immediately became suspicious.
JH: Is he hurt or something? His UCL is still in one piece right?
DS: Don’t worry, his arm is fine. So any interest?
JH: Yeah, but what would you want as the return?
DS: Well, we would first need to you to take on Bronson Arroyo’s contract.
Hart looked up at one of the guys in the room with him. His contract guy consulted the screen in front of him and then wrote a number on a piece of paper and held it up. The number was 10. Hart nodded, as $10 million was within his budget.
JH: That’s okay for us money wise. Depends on what you ask for in return of course. Anyone in particular you would want to get back?
DS: Do you mind if I put you on hold John. Me and Tony want to take a look at our list.
JH: Fine by me.
Hart then looked around the room and told his video guy to find video of Toussaint’s last outing. He still believed there had to be something he was missing. He then turned to another of his assistants and quipped: “Maybe we can get them to acquire the naming rights to Turner Field in 2017.”
Meanwhile, in Arizona. Stewart and La Russa were both staring at the top two names on their list, wondering which one to bring up first.
DS: There is no way we can ask for him right off the bat right? We can’t get lucky again.
TLR: What harm is there in asking? If he doesn’t respond well we can ask about the second guy.
DS: Good plan Tony.
Stewart then took Hart off hold and heard the solid laughter following Hart’s Turner Field remark.
DS: You guys sound like you’re having a good time.
JH: Sorry about that. So, who did you have in mind?
DS: (after a pause and deep breath) How about Phil Gosselin?
There was a silence for about 60 seconds as both men waited for the other to speak first. Hart was staring at his monitor, thinking: “This can’t be the guy they want back.”
In Arizona, the silence was killing Stewart and La Russa. They were looking at their screen, where Gosselin’s name was at the top of the page. Even though he had produced roughly 1 WAR in his time in the majors, he had also produced a 10 GAR (Grit Above Replacement). As the 60 seconds dragged on, both men became uncomfortable. Stewart started to think that they should have asked for the second name on the screen, Freddie Freeman, owner of a 9 GAR over the same span.
JH: Uhh sure we can do that.
DS: We have ourselves a deal then. Mind drawing up the paperwork?
JH: (stunned) No problem we will send it right over.
Hart then hung up. Stewart and La Russa immediately high fived. They had long coveted Phil Gosselin. To acquire him and dump Arroyo’s contract for the low price of a pitching prospect with a 40 rated grittiness tool was the steal of the century. Stewart could picture how this scene would be recreated in the hit film Gritball.
TLR: We got him!!!!!
DS: I told you not to give up! I knew sooner or later we could pry him loose! We should celebrate. How about some steaks?
Tony and Dave were silent for few seconds and then burst out laughing. They both knew there was only one food that could properly celebrate the trade they had just pulled off. Stewart went over to the phone and dialed the number.
DS: Hi, this is Dave Stewart, GM of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Could you send over two orders of grits please?
Be sure to check out the other BttP posts, all of which feature non-fictional analysis and discussionNext post: Anatomy of a Shelling – The Predictable Struggles of Rookie Starters, Featuring Eduardo Rodriguez
Previous post: Happy Father’s Day from Banished to the Pen