MLB Playoff Odds, the Trade Deadline, and the Diamondbacks

It's not too early to look ahead to the trade deadline, because the D-backs are certainly doing their due diligence behind the scenes
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen / Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY

When we last checked in on the Diamondbacks Playoff odds on May 16th they were in a virtual tie with the San Diego Padres and the Washington Nationals for the third NL Wild Card spot. Their composite playoff odds were 36.5%. Since that time the D-backs have gone 3-3, bringing their record to 24-26, falling to one game back of the 26-26 Padres.

Despite that, using our previous calculation method, the odds remained virtually unchanged at 36.3%. Today using a modified weighted average we see the D-backs odds increasing slightly to 39.4%.

These odds are derived by averaging the playoff odds reports generated by Baseball Reference, Fangraphs, and Baseball Prospectus. However in this version instead of weighting each 33.3%, we have adjusted the weighting as follows: BR= 16.7% , FG 41.7% and BP 41.7%.

The reason for this is the Baseball Reference odds create their projection based off the run differentials and strength of schedule for a team's last 100 games. We are at exactly 50 games into the season, meaning 50% of their projection is based off last year.

As the number of games played in the current season increases, we will increase the weighting of Baseball Reference inputs until 100 games played, at which point BR will achieve equal weighting. For now however we will continue to use a weighted average.

What does all this have to do with the trade deadline you might ask? In the color coded tables below the teams highlighted in dark green are virtual locks for a postseason spot. They are buyers if they feel they have needs to identify. Light green indicates teams that should be strongly considering buying.

Light Red are teams that should be considering their sell options and targeting players to help them in future seasons. Teams in dark red are out of it, and should be aggressively seeking to move players nearing free agency for the highest possible returns and rebuild their ball clubs. "Diff" is simply the difference between using the straight average and the weighted average, presented for reference.

National League

NL Playoff Odds games through May 22nd, 2024
NL Playoff Odds games through May 22nd, 2024 / Jack Sommers

The Dodgers, Phillies, and Braves are going to the postseason. The Brewers, Cubs, and Padres are favorites to secure the other three spots, but are far from locks. The Cardinals, Giants, and Mets playoff odds have dwindled, but their records actually have them right behind the Padres and Diamondbacks. They're not out of it, and the shading here might not properly represent their actual thinking.

The same could be said for the Pirates and Reds perhaps, but in reality their odds are miniscule. What can't be argued is that the Nationals, Marlins and Rockies are at the bottom of the pile and should be redbuilding. In fact the Marlins have already started that process by trading Luis Arraez to the Padres for a package of prospects.

So where does that leave the Diamondbacks? Clearly they are in a middle position. Coming off a World Series appearance in 2023 they were considered a favorite to return to the postseason at the beginning of the season by most pundits and projection systems.

Looking at the handy positional comparison tool at Baseball Reference the areas where the D-backs lag behind the most are pitching in general, third base, and centerfield.

Eduardo Rodriguez has begun a throwing program in recovery from a shoulder strain. He is still at least three to four weeks away from making his season debut for the Diamondbacks. Merrill Kelly is getting an MRI this week in his shoulder. If cleared to begin throwing, he is probably a couple of weeks behind Rodriguez.

While it's hard to imagine the D-backs targeting starting pitching as buyers at this point, it should be noted that they were forced to use openers in two of the three games in the recent series against the Dodgers. That is because of underperformance of some of their young starters.

The bullpen is always a work in progress. The recent return of Paul Sewald and the emergence of Justin Martinez have helped with the late innings. But there is still need. Lefty Kyle Nelson is out for the season due to TOS. The D-backs have been rotating left-hand relievers behind Joe Mantiply, who is already beginning to get overworked.

If the Diamondbacks see an opportunity to grab a good left-hand reliever early, they should make a push prior to the deadline. That's a need that isn't gong to change. Beyond that, they will surely try to wait things out and see where they stand once Rodriguez and Kelly return, and see how those two injured pitchers are able to perform.

The other area they're lagging but probably not close to looking to upgrade just yet is third base. Eugenio Suarez' bat speed has appeared to slow a great deal, and while he's getting some timely singles to drive in runs, his power has been almost non-existent.

Despite a sizable financial commitment to Suarez for 2024, if the power doesn't start to come, the D-backs need to consider making a move if one is available.

Center field ranks low in the comparison table due to Corbin Carroll's sophomore slump and Thomas' injury, but the D-backs are not going to look to upgrade those areas.

Over the coming days we will start to dive in deeper into the rosters of the potential sellers and see which players would be the best fits. That brings us to the American League, as of course potential trading partners can come from both leagues.

American League

AL Playoff Odds games through May 22nd, 2024
AL Playoff Odds games through May 22nd, 2024 / Jack Sommers

The American League appears much more muddled at the moment. There are only three teams that you can make a case should absolutely be early buyers. Those are the Yankees, Orioles, and Guardians. Conversely there are only three teams that should be sellers if they can get their desired targets, the Angels, Athletics, and White Sox.

Between the two leagues there are eight teams that are clearly out of it and should be selling. Teams looking to strike early should be mining those rosters for as much as they can get as early as they can get it. The Padres strategy of striking early, while costly in terms of prospect capital, has the potential to pay greater dividends.

After all they will have Arraez for five months instead of two. The potential impact of having a player for more than just the last two months of the season should seem obvious.

Mike Hazen often reminds us however of the difficulty of making early trades. Despite that, rest assured that the D-backs baseball operations staff is combing over each and every potential trade target and the scouts are already watching closely.

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Jack Sommers


Jack Sommers is the Publisher for FanNation Inside the Diamondbacks, part of the Sports Illustrated network. Formerly a baseball operations department analyst for the D-backs, Jack also covered the team as a credentialed beat writer for SB Nation and has written for and The  Associated Press. Follow Jack on Twitter @shoewizard59