Kyle Lewis was the American League Rookie of the Year in the COVID-shortened 2020, after hitting .262 with 11 home-runs in only 58 games. But he has struggled to stay on the field since, due mostly to problems with his right knee. He played in only 36 games during 2021, and just half that this year - in part, due to a concussion after being hit by a pitch in late May. By the time he eventually returned to fitness, the Mariners had largely moved on, and he ended the season with their Triple-A farm team in Tacoma. This definitely counts as a buy-low prospect for Mike Hazen: if Lewis can do anything like return to the form he showed in 2020, it will be a definite win for Arizona. He’ll be a Super 2 this year, so will be arbitration eligible. MLB Trade Rumors projects a $1.2 million salary.
Cooper Hummel had been a bit of a Varsho Lite so far, splitting time between the catcher’s position and the outfield. However, he hit only .176 over 66 games and 201 plate appearances for the Diamondbacks this year, with an OPS+ of 66. He’ll turn 28 later this month, so was quite a late arrival in the major leagues to begin with. It does leave the D-backs a little devoid of a backup catcher behind Carson Kelly, unless they want to go back to Daulton Varsho, which seems an unlikely scenario. However, backup catchers are not exactly difficult to obtain on the open market, let’s be honest...
In discussing the deal, Hazen brought up several points:
- While the injuries have been detrimental to his career so far, Arizona believes there is still some value in Lewis’ bat
- This move really only rounds out the roster. The team will still look to improve the roster in every way possible
- On that note, they are testing all facets of getting better. The trade market as well as free agency and any other way to acquire players (waivers, Rule 5 draft, etc.)
- When asked about how losing Hummel would affect Catching depth, Hazen said that adding catching is still on the table, but he leans toward a depth piece or backup to Kelly more than a primary catcher right now
- The Seattle Mariners took Kyle Lewis 11th overall in the 2016 draft, one spot before the Boston Red Sox took Jay Groome that year. Hazen was serving as the Boston GM (albeit still under Dave Dombrowski) at the time. He remembered liking Lewis and knew immediately that he’d been taken one slot before they go to pick
- When he was asked about Lewis having reverse splits at the MLB level and how that would be utilized going forward, Hazen brought up the small MLB sample size aspect of those splits. He further stated the MiLB numbers for Lewis were more traditionally split. This led to a short discussion on playing time due to all the injuries and Hazen postulated Left Field and DH as possible positions somewhat offhand. The big takeaway was that he doesn’t believe Lewis will play Center Field at all in 2023 (he jokingly stated that the team has enough center fielders it won’t be necessary to risk Lewis in that fashion). This move was mostly about Lewis’ upside with the bat and offering a right-handed option in the outfield when necessary.
This move is pretty much the definition of low risk, high reward for the team.