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Why the Diamondbacks elected to tender Jake Lamb a contract

Related: Arizona Diamondbacks non-tender Caleb Joseph, Steven Souza, Taijuan Walker

MLB: San Diego Padres at Arizona Diamondbacks Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports

The most surprising move at the non-tender deadline for the Diamondbacks has been they’ve tendered 1B/3B Jake Lamb. Lamb was considered a potential non-tender candidate after a pair of injury-plagued seasons and a projected Arbitration 3 salary of $5.3M. However, the Dbacks have elected to keep Lamb on the 40-man roster for the offseason and the opportunity to compete for a bench or semi-regular role next Spring. If Lamb is unable to secure a role with the 2020 team, the team can release him at the cost of 30 (released before the 16th day of Spring Training) or 45 days (released after the 16th day but before the regular season starts) of termination pay based on his arbitration salary.

Since the beginning of the 2018 season, Lamb has hit .208/.315/.350 with 16 doubles, 2 triples, and 12 homers in 464 PA. In the 2019 season, Lamb saw his exit velocity jump from 88.4 MPH to 90.4 MPH and his average launch angle jump from 10.4 deg to 13.8. On top of that, Lamb saw his strikeout rate improve to 24% and his walk rate to 14%. Despite the improvement in quality of contact and plate discipline, Lamb struggled to a .193/.323/.353 slash in 226 PA. He missed most of April and May with a Grade 2 Quad Strain then saw Christian Walker take over the starting 1B job on a full-time basis the rest of the way.

Last season, we saw the Dbacks deploy a lineup that included Walker at 1B, Eduardo Escobar at 2B, and Lamb at 3B to keep him in the lineup against RHP. Lamb was lifted for Wilmer Flores against LHP with Escobar moving to 3B for those games. That is one option for the infield mix, which would just require the team acquiring a RH platoon partner for Lamb with 2B/3B versatility. If the free agent and trade markets do not go the way the front office envisions, they can default to that. In addition to being able to play a semi-regular role at 3B, he can back up Christian Walker at 1B for the 20-25 games that Walker will be sitting out. If Lamb hits RHP well, there will be a semi-regular role that will allow him to accumulate close to 400 PA before hitting free agency next November.