The last one of these - fortunately, since I’ve now got to keep up with the Gameday Threads and recaps! - covers the outfield. There’ll be some changes there for the Diamondbacks, who have to replace almost 220 starts, with the main departees being A.J. Pollock (105 starts), Jon Jay (62) and Chris Owings (46). Some of that slack should be taken up by a hopefully healthy Steven Souza Jr. and Jarrod Dyson. Though it was announced today that the latter will be getting an MRI after experiencing what Torey Lovullo called, “a little bit of discomfort in his midsection.” Lovullo said it’s not related to the injury that cost him much of the second half last year, but I’ll be happier when I see him gamboling round the outfield.
Souza, too, missed a significant amount of time in 2018, though going by the three-run homer he cracked in the opening game of Cactus League play, there’s no health issues there. He will be leaned upon for significantly better production: his OPS+ last year was only 77, compared to a career figure of 105 up to that point. Something closer to the latter would be very helpful. Driving the engine-room in the outfield, however, will be David Peralta, who started 137 games last year, and responded with a 30-homer season. That was a number not surpassed by any Diamondbacks left-fielder, since Luis Gonzalez had 57 in 2001. [Jason Kubel also had thirty in 2012]
Going by today’s spring training outing, the Ketel Marte switch to centerfield, is actually going to be a thing, not something you dreamed about over the long, dark winter. We’ve seen this kind of switch quite recently in Arizona, when Chris Owings went from middle-infielder to Opening Day 2016 starter at center, in about 72 hours. That worked out... okay. I was a bit surprised to see that Owings has a career positive UZR at all three outfield spots and is +6.4 in UZR/150 overall. However, the metrics are split, with Total Zone’s Fielding Runs Above Average much less impressed by his defense. It’s going to be a process, but given the dearth of alternatives who don’t swing tooth-picks, it’s probably worth a shot.
There will probably be plenty of at-bats to go around there though, since it seems that Marte will be expected to play at other positions as well. It’s not clear whether the team will carry four or five outfielders. Presuming the roster includes three catchers, we may end up with only four “true” outfielders, and Marte in addition being used as a defensive swing-man, moving back and forth between the two zones as necessary. Right now, the other four would appear to be locks for Peralta and Souza, but the other two spots are uncertain. Health permitting, Dyson and Socrates Brito are likely favorites: but having both would leave us with Souza the only right-handed outfield bat (Marte is a switch-hitter).
Maybe that opens the door for Tim Locastro, the only other outfielder on the 40-man roster? Of course, there’s also DC’s favorite, Yasmany Tomas, who will be the highest-paid position player on the Diamondbacks this year, despite not even being on the 40-man roster at this point. However, his best bet at making the roster could be at first base. If you’d told me two years ago that Marte would be our Opening Day CF and Tomas is potentially in the mix as an everyday first baseman... Anyway, including both men, as well as the rest of the 40-man roster, and the non-roster invitees in spring training, here are the potential candidates for the 2019 Diamondbacks outfield.
- Abraham Almonte
- Andrew Aplin
- Socrates Brito
- Jarrod Dyson
- Tim Locastro
- Ketel Marte
- David Peralta
- Rob Refsnyder
- Steven Souza Jr.
- Matt Szczur
- Yasmany Tomás
As usual, there’s a drag and drop ranking. This is to be based purely on player quality, without taking into account options, etc. We’ll get round to that, where relevant, when we discuss who WILL be on the roster, later in the week. For now, this is strictly a question of who SHOULD be there.
We’ll have the results on Wednesday, and feel free to explain yourself in the comments.