The Diamondbacks announced this afternoon that infielder Jake Lamb has been designated for assignment. The team instead called up Pavin Smith, who was the #7 overall pick by Arizona in the 2017 draft. However, Smith’s stock has fallen since that point, and he is currently ranked only #28 in the D-backs’ farm system by MLB.com. He’s a first-baseman who can also play the outfield. Last year, for Double-A Jackson, he hit .291/.370/.466 for an .836 OPS, with 12 home-runs in 123 games.
However, the big news is the departure of Lamb, who was one of the longest-tenured Diamondbacks, having made his debut in August 2014. His time in Arizona ends with 596 games played across parts of seven seasons, with a triple-slash line of 239/.329/.433 for a .762 OPS (97 OPS+). Those numbers are heavily front-loaded, as a combination of injury and ineffectiveness plagued Jake over the last few seasons. He made it to the All-Star Game in 2017, but as we noted earlier this year, his career likely peaked with the grand-slam below against the Dodgers, in August 2017.
In hindsight, the sound the ball made, clanging off the foul-pole in right field, may have been the death knell for Lamb’s career as a Diamondback. Over 195 games and 588 at-bats, spread over three-plus years after that hit, Jake batted below the Uecker line, at .199/.307/.335 for an OPS of just.642. Injury means he missed more than half the games last year, losing his everyday spot at first-base to Christian Walker, and many were surprised the team opted to tender him a contract for 2020. That doubt proved to be well-founded, as Jake hit a mere .116 (5-for-43) in limited playing time, with no home-runs and 17 strikeouts.
It’s always sad to see a player struggling so mightily, especially one like Lamb who, by all accounts, seems like a genuinely nice guy. But professional sport is a harsh world, where your performance is far and away the most important thing. With Lamb scheduled to become a free-agent at the end of the year, it makes more sense to give any playing time he might have received to a prospect who could be part of the team’s future. I wish Lamb all the best in his future endeavors, wherever they may take him. The move leaves just Nick Ahmed and David Peralta, of our 2017 playoff roster on the currently active squad.