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Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2022 Diamondbacks!

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

I was inspired by this post on MLB Trade Rumors to take a position by position look at where the Diamondbacks will stand in 2022. It's not particularly encouraging, but it might be better than the Cubs, anyway.

Catcher

Carson Kelly remains as the incumbent, but Daulton Varsho will probably also see some time behind the dish, unless he is penciled into a regular starting role in the outfield. With no catcher working through the minor league system, and given Mike Hazen's normal practice, I'd anticipate there will be a free agent signing to fill out the position. Bryan Holaday could be re-signed, or another signing like Kurt Suzuki or Sandy Leon could happen as well. However, given that there might be a lot of teams in the hunt for a veteran backup catcher, re-signing Holaday if he handles the staff well down the stretch may be the Diamondbacks' best option.

First base

First base is a position where the Diamondbacks have too many players. Christian Walker and Pavin Smith both have shown reasons to think they should handle the position on a daily basis, but given age, I'd rather see Smith out there the most. Seth Beer isn't likely to benefit from any more time in the minor leagues, either. As the roster is currently constructed, the Diamondbacks would benefit from a universal DH, as they could start Walker and Smith in the field and Beer at DH semi-regularly, and Smith and Beer could also serve as outfielders in an emergency situation.

Second base

Obviously, Ketel Marte should be penciled in here. Also obviously, the front office wants him in the outfield, for some reason that escapes all of us. But even behind Marte, there are plenty of options, with Josh Rojas, Andrew (don't call me Andy) Young, and potential late-2022 call up Blaze Alexander. 2021 draftee Ryan Bliss is potentially a fast mover, but it would be a major upset to see him before late-2023.

Third base

Gone is Eduardo Escobar, and gone too will be Asdrubal Cabrera. Drew Ellis is auditioning for a potential starting role. Andrew Young will also have a chance to get regular playing time. If Ketel is asked to move away from the middle infield, third base probably makes more sense than the outfield, but we already know the front office wants him in the outfield, for reasons that will only become more ludicrous as this brief look moves along.

However, third base is also a position where the Diamondbacks could make a relative splash in free agency if they chose to do so. While they aren't going to sign Kris Bryant, they could pursue a reunion with Escobar, or go after Kyle Seager or Matt Duffy. Not much of a splash, but if the Diamondbacks pursue a position player free agent starter, third base is the most likely position.

Shortstop

Nick Ahmed has had a disappointing year in many ways. There's still a chance he is dealt during the offseason, but given the high potential for labor strife, there might not be a lot of dealing happening. He is almost certain to play out his contract, in my opinion.

Behind Ahmed, Rojas is a part of the mix, and of course Gerardo Perdomo will be a warm body as needed, even if his bat doesn't look to be coming around. If Ahmed and Blaze Alexander are both having great seasons, an Ahmed trade at the deadline could provide the means for Alexander to come in and bridge the position to Jordan Lawlar. But the most likely scenario remains Ahmed holding down the position for another couple years, and possibly even signing a small extension to bridge to Lawlar.

Left Field

Unless David Peralta tears it up in the final two months, he is worth more to the Diamondbacks than he would be to other teams. I don't see him traded at this point.

Center Field

Ketel Marte, on the other hand, might actually get dealt over the winter. I don't think he will, and he is the most likely opening day starter in center. If he is traded or moved back to the infield, look for either Daulton Varsho or Pavin Smith to get the first crack at the position. Alek Thomas, Stuart Fairchild, Dominic Fletcher, or even Jake McCarthy are players who might get playing time in center.

Right Field

The Diamondbacks could keep Kole Calhoun, given that he's a hometown player who has hardly played in front of the home fans so far, given COVID and injuries. But it really wouldn't make sense to do so, particularly with what Josh Rojas has shown this year, and Pavin Smith, and the absolute crowd of outfield talent. At opening day, it's likely Rojas or Smith at the position, but both are more likely playing on the right side of the infield long-term. Given the lack of need to rush anyone along, I think it likely that Stuart Fairchild gets a lot of starts in right next year, before Alek Thomas or Jake McCarthy gets the eventual call.

Outfield depth

There's a lot of depth in the outfield, as well. Unfortunately, Corbin Carroll's injury this year costs him another year of development and means he won't be around until 2023, but the aforementioned Thomas, Fletcher, and McCarthy are all players that will probably get some looks, in addition to occasionally playing Pavin Smith or Seth Beer in the outfield. I also wouldn't be surprised if a small free agent signing happens to increase the level of "veteran-ness" in the outfield. Kevin Pillar, Billy Hamilton, and Juan Legares all look like potential Hazen targets.

Starting Pitching

The Diamondbacks have a rotation that is pretty well set. Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner, and Merrill Kelly are three probable members. Two out of Caleb Smith, Luke Weaver, Taylor Widener, Matt Peacock, Corbin Martin, Josh Green, and Humberto Mejia will join them. Who those two will be is anyone's guess, but I'd suspect Smith and Martin get the first crack at it, and of course Kelly could be dealt in the offseason and open up a spot for Widener as well.

It's possible that the first of the potential impact arms in the system arrive next year, with Luis Frias and Levi Kelly both potentially arriving next year. Unfortunately, there isn't a true top of the rotation talent in the system, but at this point, I think we'd settle for stable and halfway decent.

Relief Pitching

Mike Hazen loves signing his over-the-hill relievers to blow games save games. That' really shouldn't continue next year, but, let's be honest, it likely will. Trevor Rosenthal seems a candidate for that spot this year.

But why not use some of the talent in the system? The five names above that aren't starters, along with Frias and Slade Cecconi and Tommy Henry (or some of the other pitchers already in the system) at least wouldn't be any worse than the mess we've seen this year.

Who will be gone?

Calhoun is likely gone, unless he re-signs on a smaller deal. Clippard is gone. Cabrera is gone. Jacob Faria, Seth Frankoff, and Noe Ramirez are all non-tender candidates, since there are plenty of cheaper replacements in-house.

Is anything better?

It'd be hard for it to be worse! Expect a dead cat bounce and a 70-75 win season, with the potential for a couple players to break out and the team to post a winning record, but not more than 85 wins.