- Rating: 3.09
- 2022 stats: 28 G, 59 AB, .240/.345/.280, 82 OPS+, -0.1 bWAR
- Date of birth: March 4, 1993 (29 years old)
- 2022 earnings: $215,376 (via Spotrac)
- 2023 status: Outrighted to Reno on November 3, 2022 and now free agent.
I did last year’s player review of Jake Hager as well, so I feel pretty solid about the introduction I gave back then. If you don’t wish to click and read back: 2011 draft pick out of Nevada by the Rays, never achieved the level prospect watchers thought he could reach (although I now read that he was also hampered by a tore tendon and broken ankle) and lived on the waiver wire between the Rays, Brewers, Mets, and Mariners until ending up in Arizona in 2021. He got 22 PA for the Diamondbacks last year, good for a 10 OPS+, and chose free agency in November.
Hager reflected on the whole year with, “It was a crazy year last year, but looking back on it, I got to learn a lot about how the business side of the game works and how it all goes. I got to reflect on a lot of things, but it got me to where I am today.” - Jake Hager quoted by the writer of an article published on July 27, 2022 on LWOS
The Diamondbacks signed Hager again to a minor league contract in March 2022.
Jake Hager started the season, as expected, in Reno in AAA where he was batting .239/.363/.380 when he got called up to the major leagues as a COVID-replacement for Nick Ahmed.
What was supposed to be a brief stay got extended for a longer period of time when Ahmed wasn’t able to return healthy, first staying for over 3 weeks on the COVID-IL list and then going out alltogether for the rest of the season with a shoulder problem.
Hager appeared in 28 games, but started in just a few more than half of those. He got most reps at 2B although he also got some at bats at 3B and SS, his favourite position. He did decent, without much power, but with a healthy .345 OBP. However, he lost his spot to Sergio Alcantara when the latter got claimed on waivers. Alcantara was probably considered as a superior defensive option and so Hager was optioned to Reno.
Before that Hager had also pitched in 3 games (2.1 innings), taking the field on May 26, June 7 and June 18 in blown outs against the Dodgers, Reds and Twins.
While in Reno he eventually lost his spot on the 40-man roster in August, after the Diamondbacks claimed Reyes Moronta on waivers. Hager won the PCL Championship with the Aces, but missed the National Championship title game against the Durham Bulls. He was called back up to the MLB on October 2, when the Diamondbacks placed Emmanuel Rivera on the 60-day IL and the day the Aces would play for the overall AAA title in Las Vegas.
In my opinion, that was a big bullshit move. The Aces played one of their most important games in their history in Hager’s home state against the affiliate from the team that drafted him. I am sure he would have loved to be a part of it. The Diamondbacks could have easily waited just one more day before calling him up. On top of that Hager didn’t even take the field for the Diamondbacks when called back up.
Last year I wrote that I didn’t see any future for Hager in pro baseball, but obviously I was wrong. I mean, the guy is still just 29 years old (at the moment of writing). After a fine season in AAA and an okay showing in the MLB, Jake Hager could certainly find another minor league contract somewhere as a low-key depth piece.
What might be a plus for Hager is the way other players and coaches speak about him. In the quoted article above there are numerous remarks from coaches Joe Mather and Tony Perezchica, youngsters Buddy Kennedy and Geraldo Perdomo, but also Christian Walker and Carson Kelly speaking highly of Jake Hager: “a great guy” to have around in the clubhouse, in the dugout and on the field for many reasons.