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Arizona Diamondbacks 2017-18 off-season issues #3: Left-field

There’ll be an outfield issue to be fixed this winter. But where?

San Diego Padres v Arizona Diamondbacks Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

With an average score of 6.30, this was definitely an area of worry - though as we’ll see, the interconnectedness of the outfield positions is definitely a factor. That’s likely why, although 21.2% rated it the highest level of concern, a ten, slightly more than (24.4%) scored it at a three or lower.

2017 starters

  • David Peralta 48
  • Yasmany Tomas 42
  • Daniel Descalso 32
  • Gregor Blanco 18
  • Chris Herrmann 17
  • Rey Fuentes 2
  • Kristopher Negron 2
  • Jeremy Hazelbaker 1


  • 1.7 bWAR below average at the position (24th in MLB)
  • .239/.317/.373 = .690 OPS, 15 HR, 76 RBI

2018 Depth Chart

  1. Yasmany Tomas
  2. Rey Fuentes
  3. Jeremy Hazelbaker
  4. Socrates Brito

Virtually every section above illustrates part of the reason for concern here. It was the position we were furthest from a regular occupant this season. We had eight different people start games there, with no-one reaching even one-third of the total. It was our lowest ranked spot around the diamond, and had the lowest OPS of the eight positions - 33 points lower than shortstop, at a place which you generally expect to be one of the more productive. And the person most likely to start there for the Diamondbacks next season is currently our most expensive position player, who has yet to reach even replacement level by bWAR, in any of this three seasons with the team.

All told, you could certainly make a strong argument for this being the position at which the Diamondbacks most need to do “something” for 2018. However, the situation here is inextricably linked with the right-field one. Which of these ends up being the problem, will depend heavily on which one ends up not being populated by Peralta. He may have been the most common left fielder this year, but he started significantly more often (74 times) in right field. The number would have been even higher, except he moved to left because of the arrival of J.D. Martinez, who occupied the right corner for the second half of the season.

With the likely departure of Mr. Dingers, we’ll see how things re-align themselves. In a vacuum, without any other acquisitions, it’s likely the team would revert to the Opening Day 2017 configuration, with Tomas in left and Peralta in right, flanking A.J. Pollock. That would seem to make left the biggest issue, because of the severe uncertainty as to whether or not Tomas will be able to perform at the major-league level. The repeated proclamations that this would be the year - no, for reals this time! - have so far proven to be entirely unfounded. His bat has been tolerable, with an OPS+ so far of 98. But, the defense... I’ll just leave this video here:

So far, in his first three seasons with the Diamondbacks, Tomas has been worth 2.2 wins below replacement level by bWAR (-1.4 fWAR). There have been worse players over their first three years - Jose Bautista was -2.3 bWAR and Aramis Ramirez -2.8 bWAR, both going on to become All-Stars. But I can’t think of one who has been worse than Tomas, while also being paid $22.5 million. As has been well recorded, that price will only increase from here, with Tomas being due $46 million over the years 2018-2020. Right now, we don’t even know how healthy he will be, with a lingering groin injury eventually requiring surgery in late August.

The depth chart behind him currently offers little hope for optimism. Fuentes put up 0.1 bWAR in 64 games, with an OPS+ of 54, while Hazelbaker and Brito both appeared to fall out of favor somehow. The prospect crop, in the shape of Zach Borenstein and Evan Marzilli, has been largely flying under the radar. Borenstein is likely the closest, but it’s hard to know whether the former’s .924 OPS for Reno would translate into much at the major-league level. That’s roughly what Ketel Marte did (OPS .905) in his time for Reno, and he has been fine in the majors. But as mentioned above, offensive requirements out of the SS spot are considerably lower than in the corner outfield.

The problem is that the Diamondbacks do not appear to have much flexibility in terms of signing free-agents. Simply sustaining their existing commitments will be a stretch, never mind funding any offensive upgrades. It feels like a trade, perhaps involving one of our middle-infield surplus, would be a better solution in the short- and medium-term. The good news is, that interconnectedness of the outfield does give us some flexibility in terms of finding a solution. We could solve the problem in left-field as we did in the middle of last season, by getting a right-fielder and moving Peralta back across to left.

It will certainly be interesting to see how GM Mike Hazen goes about addressing the needs of the team here, over the next few months.