There has been plenty of talk regarding the Arizona Diamondbacks trading one of their shortstops early in the 2014 season.
That’s because the D-backs have a surplus at the position and needs at others. Didi Gregorius is embroiled in a battle for the starting spot with Chris Owings, last year’s Pacific Coast League Player of the Year. For good measure, switch-hitting veteran Cliff Pennington offers flexibility and depth.
General manager Kevin Towers has been consistent in his “we’re not trading a shortstop” narrative, but another front office member says organizational depth at the position could be a factor should Towers decide to unload a shortstop for a starting pitcher.
“Yeah, we could,” D-backs president and CEO Derrick Hall told Burns and Gambo Thursday on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. “That’s an obvious area that we would focus on is pitching.
“Nothing has really changed as far as the shortstops go, you have the ability to move one because of the word ‘depth.'”
Hall points out that the D-backs not only have Gregorius, Owings and Pennington, but also Nick Ahmed, whom the team acquired from the Atlanta Braves in the Justin Upton trade of December 2012.
Ahmed, who is known for being a superb defensive player, spent 2013 at Double-A Mobile, where he batted .236 with four homers and 46 RBI in 136 games. MLB.com has the 24-year-old listed as Arizona’s 11th-best minor league prospect.
“We think (Ahmed) is the best shortstop in our system and K.T. will tell you he’s the best shortstop defensively he’s ever seen,” Hall said. “So knowing that you have that in your system, it gives you a little more freedom and liberty to be able to move one of those guys if you have to.”
Of course, the Diamondbacks’ need for pitching has been intensified by the news that projected Opening Day starter Patrick Corbin will likely miss the season after suffering damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his throwing elbow.