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2023 Diamondbacks Review: #43 Jace Peterson

A disappointing Trade Deadline veteran pickup whose role moving forward is unclear.

Wild Card Series - Arizona Diamondbacks v Milwaukee Brewers - Game Two
Peterson getting prepared for a possible bench/utility role
Photo by John Fisher/Getty Images

2023 overview

  • Rating: 3.34
  • 2023 stats: .183/.276/.258 (.534 OPS)
  • Date of birth: May 9, 1990
  • 2023 earnings: $4.5 million - $3 million paid by A’s and $150,000 paid by D-Backs
  • 2024 status: Signed through the end of 2024
Wow, y’all really liked this guy more than I would have thought.

In the annals of D-Backs history, it’s unlikely that Jace Peterson will play a large part. It’s far more likely that he provides a good Immaculate Grid answer as he’s played for seven teams (Atlanta, Milwaukee, Baltimore, Arizona, San Diego, New York Yankees, and Oakland) across 10 seasons. Through most of that time, Peterson has been a serviceable major leaguer that has failed to particularly distinguish himself besides stuffing a transaction sheet. It’s also a far cry from the potential the Padres saw in the McNeese State University product back in 2011. In hindsight, one of the most unfair lenses available to baseball writers, several teams would have been better served picking up the unheralded high schooler Blake Snell just six picks earlier.

As a compensatory first-round pick in that 2011 draft, Peterson’s expectations were likely low despite an excellent junior season that saw him compile a .335/.449/.473 slash line (.922 OPS). He was also touted as a two-sport player between football and baseball, which was actually a step down from the three sports he played in high school with the addition of basketball. Unsurprisingly, he chose baseball when the Padres came calling with a six figure bonus that pried him away from his senior season with an otherwise relatively unremarkable Cowboys team. Before leaving however, he did manage to set a school record in stolen bases with 78 as his athleticism became his calling card in the draft and early in his professional career as he swiped an impressive 51 bases in his first full professional season in the Padres organization.

He continued to distinguish himself in the next two years as he spent a full season at each affiliate level and racked up solid slash lines with each one. That was enough proof for the Padres to give him a shot in 2014 as he rode the El Paso-San Diego shuttle that definitely exists a whopping five times over the course of the season. Unsurprisingly, he failed to gain any traction or create any rhythm, posting a putrid .113/.161/.113 (.274 OPS) slash line across just 27 games. Following a disappointing 2014 season that saw them manage just 77 wins, the Padres elected to bundle Peterson, Max Fried, Dustin Peterson, and Mallex Smith together in a trade with Atlanta for Aaron Northcraft and Justin Upton. Upton would go on to lead the 2015 Padres to a whopping 74 wins in 2015 while Peterson and Atlanta suffered through one of several disappointing rebuilding years before their recent stretch of NL East dominance.

That stretch of rebuilding did however give Peterson the chance to have a starting role all around the Atlanta infield where he was able to demonstrate his impressive defensive repertoire. Unfortunately, he failed to pair it with any meaningful offensive prowess as he managed to post an uninspiring .240/.326/.342 (.669 OPS) slash line in his three seasons in the Peach State. Following the 2017 season that saw the emergence of Ozzie Albies and Dansby Swanson, Atlanta elected to move on from Peterson who subsequently signed with the Yankees and appeared in just three games before being DFA’d. He was picked up by the then-bottom dwelling Orioles where he again failed to make a lasting impression on a rebuilding club and was eventually released in the tail-end of the 2019 season.

Peterson managed his best seasons in Milwaukee where he posted a respectable .238/.337/.373 (.710 OPS) slash line across three seasons. Sadly, even this performance wasn’t enough to keep him with the Brew Crew as the lowly Athletics elected to sign him with an eye towards flipping him in the following season. Lo and behold, that plan worked to a T as the D-Backs decided to take a flyer on the veteran journeyman at the cost of minor leaguer Chad Patrick following the Paul Sewald trade that saw Josh Rojas and Dominic Canzone head to Seattle. Unfortunately, while Peterson provided some additional depth at a needed infield position, he posted some of his worst offensive numbers in his career with a disappointing .183/.276/.258 (.534 OPS) slash line down the stretch.

While Peterson was always designed to be a depth piece, as Mike Hazen himself acknowledged at the time of the trade, it’s difficult to accept a bench player posting such offensive numbers in the long term. Until last Wednesday, Peterson likely was the second bench option for Torey Lovullo going into the 2024 season around the infield. With the addition of Eugenio Suarez however, his usage likely goes down even further into a super utility role as he has appeared at every possible fielding position. As it stands now, Peterson projects out as a day game or righty specialist as his splits are marginally better against righties than lefites (.631 OPS .493 OPS respectively). There are certainly worse options for a super utility player that can provide some additional leadership to a still-young team, but it’s difficult to get hot and bothered over a player that will likely be continuing his major league journey elsewhere soon enough.