Reports: Ketel Marte could play CF for D-backs, Jake Lamb to 1B
Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings are taking place in Las Vegas as reports surfaced Monday that the D-backs could switch up the defensive use of some of their players.
The news came not long after the the D-backs traded first baseman Paul Goldschmidt to the St. Louis Cardinals. Meanwhile, free agent center fielder A.J. Pollock could be next to officially take a job elsewhere.
With those players absent, the D-backs have some holes to fill on their roster. That’s why GM Mike Hazen told reporters Monday — including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert — that a trade or a move of infielder Ketel Marte to center field would be necessary if Pollock does in fact sign with another team. Additionally, with Goldschmidt gone, third baseman Jake Lamb will see playing time at first base, Gilbert wrote.
“He’s still going to play third base as well,” Hazen said. “I think having some flexibility with the entire infield is going to be important, depending on how matchups stack up. We obviously have a few right-handed-hitting first basemen on the roster that provide a natural complement there if we went in that direction.”
As Hazen alluded to, the D-backs could employ right-handed hitting options at first base for games in which Arizona is facing a left-handed pitcher. Lamb, a left-handed hitting 28-year-old who had season-ending shoulder surgery last year, is a career .160 hitter against lefties, compared to .269 against righties in his five-year career.
At third base when Lamb isn’t playing there, the D-backs have Eduardo Escobar to field the position. Arizona signed Escobar to a three-year deal in October worth a reported $21 million after the D-backs traded for the 29-year-old in July. Escobar is a switch-hitter.
If Lamb isn’t at first base, the D-backs can play Christian Walker or Kevin Cron there, as Gilbert pointed out.
Walker has played 61 career big league games over parts of four seasons. Last year, the right-handed hitter played 37 games with the D-backs, hitting .163 with three home runs, though many of his appearances were in-game substitutions and pinch-hit appearances. He had 53 plate appearances in those 37 games.
Cron is 25 years old and has yet to make his major league debut, but the third-round pick in 2011 hit .309 with 22 round-trippers in 104 games in Reno last year. He was named a Pacific Cost League post-season All-Star in 2018.
Of course, having Marte in center field would create some need in the infield, where Arizona already has Nick Ahmed and Ildemaro Vargas (26 career MLB games). Daniel Descalso is a free agent, and Arizona already non-tendered Chris Owings this offseason.