Two separate news stories related to the team’s depth at the shortstop position broke yesterday. The first was Nick Ahmed’s shoulder, which has not responded well to off-season rehab and continues to be an issue. The other was the team swinging a trade for former D-backs prospect Sergio Alcántara. The latter move seems to be a clear reaction to what the team thinks about Ahmed’s health after doing MRI tests on his shoulder yesterday. With those two moves in mind, let’s see where the team stands at the shortstop position entering the 2022 season.
Ahmed still has two years left on a 4-year extension he signed before the 2020 season. Shoulder and knee injuries nagged him all season, which saw his bat drop to its lowest production since the 2016 season. Ahmed tried to rehab the injury with a PRP injection, which involves taking a person’s own plasma and platelets from one area and injecting it at the injured spot to speed up the healing. His shoulder has not responded well to the treatment, leaving his availability status to the team up in the air for the foreseeable future. I would not be surprised if he opens up the season on the 15-Day Injured List and the team re-evaluates if the injury will require surgery to correct and if he can play through the injury during the season.
Perdomo is the most logical choice to take over at the position should Ahmed be out for more than the 15-day minimum. Despite struggling for the first half of 2021, Perdomo had a strong August with the team’s AA affiliate and parlayed that into a solid showing in September during Ahmed’s absence. His bat still has some development left to do, as he’s far from a finished product at 22 years old, the question would be if it can be done at the MLB level or if he needs to do it in a less pressure-filled environment. Defensively he would be an upgrade over an injured Ahmed, not as sure compared to a healthy one, so he could be an option to receive everyday ABs. In a situation where we’re dealing with a short term absence for Ahmed, I prefer he gets his hacks in with Reno and not disrupt that process.
The trade to pick up Alcántara from the Chicago Cubs is a pretty telltale sign the team is worried about their overall depth. Alcántara is a former D-backs prospect who was traded to the Detroit Tigers in the J.D. Martinez deal in 2017. A glove-first player with a dimunitive 5’9” frame and not much pop, you’re not expecting much with the bat but rather an emergency fill-in at the position. He got a 255 PA try out with the Cubs last year and put up a .205/.303/.327 slash line (70 wRC+). That’s not starting shortstop level production with the bat, but beggars can’t be choosers. Alcántara makes more sense for a short term absence, which would be just covering days instead of months, as someone who is competent defensively and you can hide at the bottom of the order. When Ahmed returns to the lineup, the team can use him as a defensive-minded utility player to give Ahmed and Ketel Marte some days off.
Minor League Depth
Jake Hager: Hager was a midseason waiver claim last year and is more of a light hitting utility type that provides less value than Alcántara does at the position. Last year he bounced around four different organizations and was designated for assignment on all four. He provides some coverage against LHP as a right-handed bat, which helps with Perdomo’s better side being his left.
Jeison Guzmán: A former Royals prospect, Guzman only has 41 games at the AA level and was more or less pushed out by Bobby Witt Jr.’s impending arrival in Kansas City. Guzmán is a glove-first prospect, with a 6’2” 205 frame, who should be able to handle the position defensively, but he’s far less developed than the players above.