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Candidates for Third Base

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Who will play third base for the Diamondbacks? In 2022, the status quo is not an option because Escobar and Cabrera are gone.

Wilmer Flores makes a diving catch.
Wilmer Flores makes a diving catch.
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

In 2021, third base was played by eight Diamondbacks. It was a weak position in three ways:

  • Defense. Negative 6 Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) ranked 22nd in the Majors.
  • Offense. 1.6 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) ranked 18th in the Majors (hat tip to Jack Sommers).
  • Negative 0.8 Wins Above Average (WAA) ranked 21st in the Majors.

Escobar and Cabrera, whose 2021 total of innings at third base was 1256.2 innings, are gone. In 2022, who will play third base?

The decision may be made quickly (via trade or free agent signing) or slowly (via internal candidates). It will be insightful to periodically provide AZ Snake Pit readers a forum to make their preferences known.

You can make your choice known in the poll that follows.

In future polls, candidates nominated in the comments section will be added to the poll. The initial poll will not include any platoons, but platoons can be nominated for future polls.

Before we get to the poll, let’s briefly look at some of the options.

Ketel Marte.

Yes, this would be yet another move by Ketel Marte to a new position (second base to center field to third base). But it could make sense. Assume that Perdomo boldy wins the short stop position. Instead being traded, Ahmed moves to second base. Assume that the outfield experiment with Ketel Marte is over. That means Marte moves to third base.

“Ketel Marte led the team’s batters with at least 50 PAs with 145 OPS+, .321 BA, .383 OBP, and .529 SLG. His 2.4 fWAR offense was the highest on the team.” — Makakilo

Josh Rojas.

Based on September’s OPS and wOBA, and based on the season’s defense runs saved (DRS), this AZ Snake Pit article picked Josh Rojas as the best choice for third base.

“Josh Rojas was not projected to lead in any statistics. [For the 2021 season,] He led the team with 31 doubles and 55 walks. His 4.0 BsR was the highest on the team. His 173 assists was the third highest.” — Makakilo

“I think that Josh Rojas had — outside of Ketel, suffer Ketel because the bar is set at a spot where the guy posted a 900 OPS, that’s what Ketel does so it’s a little unfair. But I thought Josh Rojas had probably our most consistent season as a young player coming off the season he had in 2020.” — Mike Hazen

Josh VanMeter.

His 80 PAs while playing third base were the most by anyone except Escobar and Cabrera who are no longer Diamondbacks. In his last game of the season, Josh Van Meter made an excellent defensive play and hit a walk-off homer. Perhaps as the season ended he was just reaching his potential.

“He has a history of hanging in there and slowly improving and making adjustments…. He’s a long shot, but I just have a feeling about this guy.” — Jack Sommers, 9 December 2020

Maikel Franco.

This AZ Snake Pit article talked about the possibility of acquiring Maikel Franco to play in a platoon at third base. It did not happen. That’s OK because his defense at third base fell from 0 to negative 8 DRS, and his OPS+ fell from 108 to 63. What happened? My unconfirmed guess is that he played through an injured muscle, and he will bounce back this season.

At age 28, he could possibly bounce back to his 2020 results. He is an affordable free agent who could be acquired by the Diamondbacks.

“I think he’s a 30-100 (homer-RBI) guy.” — Mike Schmidt, 2016

Wilmer Flores.

In 2019 The Diamondbacks signed a $3.75 Million, one-year contract with Wilmer Flores, with a $6 Million team option for 2020. The acquisition was astute because his excellent offense would continue for the next three years. In 2019, his offense was great (118 OPS+) and his defense at second base was poor (negative 5 DRS). Three observations:

  • His 2019 value was impacted because in May he broke his foot and returned after the All-Star break. The Diamondbacks did not exercise their 2020 option.
  • In 2020, his defense at second base was greatly improved (+1 DRS).
  • He is a power hitter exceeding my demarcation line of .038 homers per PA in 2019 (.056 HRs/PA) and again in 2021 (.041 HRs/PA).

In 2021, as a Giant, he continued to hit well (111 OPS+) and defended first base (+1 DRS), second base (negative 1 DRS), and third base (negative 1 DRS). Although his primary position would be third base, his position flexibility is valuable.

He is a trade candidate because it’s likely that the Giants will exercise their $3.5 Million option for 2022. Acquiring him would be like a good player coming home.

“A lot of people liked Wilmer Flores. We thought he could be a 15-20 home run guy. He was young and inexpensive. We talked about him playing third base, and we understood he was a good kid.” — Doug Melvin

Kris Bryant.

In 2021, with the Cubs and Giants, he continued to hit well (124 OPS+) and defended first base (+1 DRS), outfield (negative 3 DRS), and third base (negative 2 DRS). Similar to Wilmer Flores, although his primary position would be third base, his position flexibility is valuable. As a free agent, it is possible he will command a higher salary than the Diamondbacks can afford.

“It feels right. They’re just really good people. They put their head down, they go to work, they’re not flashy, and I kind of see myself as that type of player, too.” — Kris Bryant

Eduardo Escobar.

He was a Diamondback from 2018 until July of this year when he was traded. In 2021 he played second base (negative 1 DRS) and third base (negative 3 DRS).

His offense was awesome this season. As a Diamondback, his OPS+ was 107. His homers per PA were .055, exceeding my All-Star demarcation line of .038. This season he was an All-Star.

“This season, the veteran infielder had a whopping 14 home runs in innings 7-9, good for second-most in all of baseball, according to Inside Edge.” — Lou Hennessey

As a free agent, he will be likely be more affordable than Kris Bryant.

“I’m going to continue to play hard and see what the team is going to do with me, and then we’ll see what happens.” — Eduardo Escobar

With an open mind, and a hunger for truth, here is the poll.

Poll

In 2022, who should play third base?

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    Ketel Marte.
    (34 votes)
  • 25%
    Josh Rojas.
    (62 votes)
  • 5%
    Josh VanMeter.
    (14 votes)
  • 2%
    Maikel Franco.
    (7 votes)
  • 2%
    Wilmer Flores.
    (7 votes)
  • 20%
    Kris Bryant.
    (50 votes)
  • 12%
    Eduardo Escobar.
    (30 votes)
  • 17%
    None of the above.
    (43 votes)
247 votes total Vote Now