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What options do D-backs have to address position of need in RF?

Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Josh Rojas, left, center fielder Abraham Almonte, center, and right fielder Adam Jones celebrate after the Diamondbacks defeated the San Diego Padres 9-0 in a baseball game in San Diego, Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)

The Arizona Diamondbacks, despite losing three of its best players from 2018 and then trading ace Zach Greinke at the deadline, improved their record to 85-77.

What does the team need to do to continue to chase a playoff spot?

The Athletic gave the biggest position of need for every team in MLB. For the D-backs, the site listed right field.

Arizona’s primary right fielder, Adam Jones, started 117 games at the position and Jarrod Dyson had 18 starts while four other players took the remaining 27. Both Jones and Dyson are free agents this offseason, though, leaving a hole at a position that was already weak, as Jones had -4 defensive runs saved, according to FanGraphs, and Dyson hit .230.

The Athletic’s recommended targets for the D-backs are Nicholas Castellanos, Yasiel Puig, Corey Dickerson, Marcell Ozuna and Avisail Garcia.

How the team plays it depends on in-house decisions.

Steven Souza Jr. is expected to return after a gruesome leg injury in an exhibition preseason game cost him the entire 2019 season. His future on the team is dictated on health and if the team still views him as a player who can bash 30-plus home runs, as he did in 2017 for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Over his two seasons in Arizona, Souza has only played 72 games with 272 at-bats due because of injuries. Even if the D-backs do like him as a starter, they need a contingency plan.

Maybe that would be a continuation of experimenting with Josh Rojas in right field. Acquired in the Greinke trade, Rojas can play infield and outfield, but all his 2019 appearances came in the outfield: 33 in left, six in right and one in center.

Tim Locastro also saw 25 games in right field, starting 10 of them. That was his best position, according to FanGraphs, with four defensive runs saved.

If any of those players are expected to be a meaningful part of the right field rotation, that likely shuts the doors on the pricier full-time starters like Castellanos and Ozuna.

Castellanos, 27, has blossomed over the last four years, hitting .286 and averaging 24 home runs and 80 RBI per season. He spent three and a half seasons with the Detroit Tigers before being acquired by the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline.

Ozuna has seen a decrease in production since being traded from the Miami Marlins to the St. Louis Cardinals, but he’s just two years removed from a season in which he hit .312 with 37 home runs and 124 RBI.

It’s unrealistic to expect either to sign as a platoon player, and the cost would be out of range for such a role as well.

Dickerson also seems like an unlikely option to fill right field, as he has only played six games there — two starts — in his seven-year career. But coming off an injury-plagued season, Arizona could get him on a cheap deal if the team decides on that route. Dickerson is a career .286 batter, was a 2017 All-Star and 2018 Gold Glove winner, so he would be an improvement over Jones and Dyson if his glove can translate to right.

Garcia and Puig seem like the two named in The Athletic article that could have mutual interest in the team.

Garcia, a 2017 All-Star who was limited to 93 games in 2018 due to a knee injury, joined the Rays last year and hit .282 with 20 home runs with 72 RBI in 125 games. MLB Trade Rumors projects him to receive a two-year, $12 million contract.

Puig has averaged 25 home runs and 74 RBI while hitting .265 the last three years and played 149 games last season. MLB Trade Rumors projects a one-year, $8 million deal.

Those are far from the only options in free agency — the D-backs could also pursue a Ben Zobrist-type who can flip between infield and outfield a la Ketel Marte and, potentially, Rojas — but they might be the most talented outfield options for Arizona to pursue.

With some money to spend, the team is in position to upgrade.

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