- 2018 rating: 3.72
- 2017 rating: N/A
- 2018 salary: $3,550,000
- 2018 performance: 272 PA, .220/.309/.369, 77 OPS+, 84 wRC+, -0.3 bWAR, -0.4 fWAR
- 2019 status: Arbitration Eligible, Est. 4.5M
Shortly after it became apparent that JD Martinez was not going to accept the Diamondbacks offer to stay with the club, they moved on to secure their right fielder of for the next several years. On February 20, 2018, Steven Souza Jr. was acquired as part of a three-way trade with the Rays and the Yankees. In addition to Souza the Diamondbacks also received LHSP Taylor Widener. In return they sent Anthony Banda to the Rays, Brandon Drury to the Yankees, and later two PTBNL were also sent to the Rays, pitchers Colin Poche and Sam McWilliams.
Souza was coming off a career year in his age 28 season, posting a batting line of .239/.351/.459 .810 OPS, 119 OPS+, with 30 HR, 78 RBI and 84 walks. He also posted positive numbers in the defense metrics, and it all added up to a 4.2 WAR season.
Initial reactions were mixed but mostly positive. After viewing a gif of the famous Souza diving catch to save Jordan Zimmerman’s no hitter, Mak made the following very prescient comment:
has a dozen or so of diving catches like this. Injuries could be a worry but I remember reading on his trade from Washington to Tampa he invests a ton of time in the training room daily to stay healthy.” Posted by makattack71 on Feb 20, 2018 | 10:12 PM
Sure enough, on March 22nd, while attempting a diving catch in a Spring game against the Giants, Souza dove for a ball and injured his right pectoral muscle. That injury would land him on the DL to start the season. In fact he missed the entire month of April and did not make his debut until May 3rd. Perhaps his timing was off, due to not having a complete spring training, but he simply did not hit when he rejoined the team. Hitless in his first 3 games, going 0-10, he broke through with a 2 hit game in his 4th start. But he was not able to really get going.
On May 18th he re-injured the pectoral muscle attempting a sliding catch, coming out of the game in the 6th inning. He took a couple days off and tried to go again on May 21st but had to come out of the game again. He would go on the DL after just 14 games played with .163 BA, 1 double, no homers, and 13 strikeouts in 47 PA. He would not make it back from the disabled list until July 5th.
He hit well for the rest of July, batting .292/.370/.486 in 81 PA. Just 2 HR, but he was getting base hits and taking walks. He followed that with a somewhat respectable August, batting .263/.322/.463 .784 OPS, but again just 2 HR for the month. By this point the total lack of power juxtaposed against what Just Dingers had provided as a DBack and was providing as a member of the Red Sox was too much to bear for most fans. It also weighed heavily on Steven as he was obviously pressing, and also letting his temper get the best of him, getting ejected a couple of times arguing balls and strikes.
Finally, like the rest of the team, he completely imploded in September. Appearing in just 18 games, 57 PA, he hit .087/.263/.196 , adding his 5th HR of the season in a pinch hit at bat in the last game of the year.
In total it was a lost year for Souza. Appearing in just under half a season’s worth of games, (72 G, 272 PA) he produced at the replacement level stat line summarized at the top of this article. (77 OPS+, 0.3 bWAR) The team will be hoping for a healthy bounce back year for Souza in 2019. With the departure of AJ Pollock, it will be all the more critical he has a strong rebound.