Before the season, the questions surrounding the Arizona Diamondbacks and their All-Star second baseman Ketel Marte was whether the team would try to cash in on their star player having a healthy season for a big haul. Instead Marte will open up the 2022 season with his more certainty in his future after signing a $76MM extension that will keep him under contract through the 2027 season and add $56MM in new money for the final three. After bursting onto the scene as an All-Star level talent in the 2019 season, Marte has dealt with various injuries the past three seasons. Had he opted to test the market, Marte would have likely had his 2023 and 2024 option years exercised by the team
Here’s what the extension means for Marte and the D-backs moving forward:
Marte once again chooses financial security over testing the market
Four years ago, Marte found himself in a similar situation. After emerging as a potential contributor for the team down the stretch in 2017, Marte signed a 5-year deal that bought out his remaining control years with a pair of club options in lieu of two free agent years that had Marte’s value maxing out at $50MM over 7 years. At the time Marte was dealing with his mother’s death in a car accident the previous July and trying to make sure he got some good money out of his career. Instead that deal turned out to be arguably one of the most team-friendly deals in MLB as Marte started to severely outplay the contract as soon as his first year after signing it.
With one guaranteed year left on that deal, although both the 2023 and 2024 options would have been the easiest decisions for Mike Hazen to exercise, Marte once again elects to not test the market. In this deal, Marte received $56MM to cover the 2025-2027 seasons, and $84MM guaranteed for the next six seasons. Like with his first extension, this appears to be team-friendly deal in which Marte chose to take the money now and not bet on himself. Between the two extensions, Marte is poised to make $100MM which is certainly a lot of money.
When a player signs a long-term deal, more of the risk moves from the player to stay healthy vs. the team. Given the upside that a healthy Marte has for the team, which I’d estimate to be around 5.0 WAR/600 PA, the amount of risk that the team assumes in this deal is very favorable. To break even, Marte only has to produce 10.5 WAR between 2022 and 2027 although we could assume he’s going to shatter that number in just 2-3 seasons.
D-backs see Marte as the player to build around
Hazen’s front office picked up Marte when he was an underachieving player for the Seattle Mariners and completed the development that wasn’t happening there. Seeing how Marte transformed himself from a slap-hitting infielder to one of the game’s best switch hitters, they might see Marte as a pillar to build around long term. The team has a Top 10 farm system whose best prospects are scheduled to arrive between 2023 and 2025. With this extension, Marte should be around for when these guys reach the majors and be able to contribute with him towards the team’s next contention window.
Sometimes in a rebuild you also have to prioritize which players are worth keeping around as trading every asset ultimately results in the team forever rebuilding. That’s obviously not a winning formula in any sport, ask the 2015-19 Phoenix Suns how that went, as eventually you need to build a roster that can win. Right now Ketel Marte is the best player on the team, by far, when healthy since he’s put up wRC+ totals of 149 and 143 in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Those type of players are very difficult to find so having that type of bat at the top of their lineup will provide some stability for the rest of the lineup. With Marte getting closer to free agency, this year felt like an extend or trade type of year with the former option taken instead.
Second Base is covered for the foreseeable future
After moving Marte around the infield and outfield the past couple seasons, it seems very likely that he’s going to be anchored at 2B while in a D-backs uniform. That’s not a problem as the team doesn’t have a prospect on the infield with comparable upside to what Marte could put up in his Age 31-33 seasons with 2021 2nd rounder Ryan Bliss being the closest to MLB-ready with any upside worth mentioning. Center Field will no longer be a concern with Daulton Varsho expected to start most of the games there to start the season and Alek Thomas banging on the door for a potential mid-season call-up. Shortstop will be decided between Nick Ahmed and Geraldo Perdomo, although things aren’t looking good for Ahmed right now as his shoulder didn’t respond well to off-season rehab. Towards the latter end of the deal, we will likely see 2021 first round pick Jordan Lawlar as his double play partner up the middle.
In terms of what the team may do in the draft, it has zero impact as I like to iterate that baseball is the one draft where talent matters more than position. In the case of Termarr Johnson, who’s projected to end up at Marte’s position of 2B, having Marte signed through 2027 shouldn’t stop them from taking Johnson 2nd overall if they think he’s the best player remaining in the draft.
Marte’s contract is still very moveable if the team still sucks in a few years
Should the team enter a situation where in 2024 they are still in the dumpster with no way out, Marte’s contract is still very moveable assuming his body doesn’t break down. While he doesn’t play a premium position, if he can go 600 plate appearances and produce a 140 wRC+ without having negative defense or baserunning value, he will likely end up being around a 5.0 WAR player. There aren’t very many players in the league that can boast that type of production, so the team could theoretically cash in on him being healthy in 2022-2024 for a solid return. I hope it doesn’t come to that and that Marte is leading the charge on the next D-backs team to make the postseason, but I doubt he would want to sit through a second rebuild.
What do you think of the Ketel Marte Extension
This poll is closed