Lovullo: D-backs will mull Lamb at 1st after Goldschmidt trade

Dec 6, 2018, 11:54 AM | Updated: 2:54 pm

The emotional toll of trading Paul Goldschmidt hasn’t worn off the Arizona Diamondbacks less than 24 hours later, but manager Torey Lovullo is already trying to be forward-thinking as he prepares for 2019.

Arizona must replace its first baseman, and the team has already begun considering who steps in.

The obvious answer could be in-house: third baseman Jake Lamb is coming off a shoulder injury that ended his season, but the D-backs filled his role by trading for Eduardo Escobar, who signed an extension with Arizona this offseason.

Escobar could be the everyday third baseman, shifting Lamb to first base in 2019. On 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station’s Bickley & Marotta, Lovullo said that thought has crossed his mind, and he’s discussed such a move with Lamb in the hours since the team traded Goldschmidt.

“We haven’t yet walked through that,” Lovullo said. “I have had a brief conversation with Jake over the past 18 hours to outline that I’m thinking about it.”

Playing at first or third, the Diamondbacks hope Lamb can take a step forward in fixing his biggest flaw as a major-leaguer.

Last year, he hit .238 with a .702 OPS against right-handed pitchers. The averages drop off a cliff against left-handed throwers, to .170 and .493, respectively.

“I had those discussions with Jake in my season-ending meeting with him,” Lovullo said. “I didn’t want to have to pull him out of the lineup against left-handed pitching. Some of the concepts and the things that were popping out of his mouth — and this is all we have to go on sometimes when you’re a teacher or somebody in a management position — you pay attention to a lot of the little things.

“It was the little things Jake was talking about last year in the batting cage, behind the scenes when he didn’t really know I was paying attention, that make me think that he’s starting to connect the dots left-on-left,” Lovullo added. “We need him to get to a certain level of comfort.”

Goldy’s biggest regret

Lovullo was in the room with Goldschmidt as GM Mike Hazen relayed the news of the Diamondbacks decision to deal the first baseman.

And the manager revealed a paraphrased version of Goldschmidt’s reaction to being traded to St. Louis.

“I was looking at him as Mike was delivering the news and he, obviously, looked like he was disappointed but knew something could happen,” Lovullo said. “He was already switching gears and moving forward with that news and understanding why it happened.

“He took it OK. I know that he had — his mind was probably racing in a thousand different directions. He took it about as well as you would hope. I know that there was a part of him that was probably a little bit disappointed. What he shared with me is he feels bad he never won a World Championship here in Arizona. He was doing everything he could on a daily basis.”

Not on the tank train

Lovullo, on what he’d tell fans upset at the team trading their best player: “I understand what they’re feeling. I’m one of them. I feel what they feel. I have those same type of thoughts that they’re feeling. I’ve had to answer some questions from my own family about if we’re throwing in a towel, if this is a rebuild — absolutely not.”

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Lovullo: D-backs will mull Lamb at 1st after Goldschmidt trade