Potential outfield targets for the Arizona Diamondbacks
In 2019, the Arizona Diamondbacks did not have great luck in the outfield.
Ketel Marte broke out and finished fourth in the MVP voting, but the natural second baseman only played a lot of outfield due to Arizona’s lack of depth there.
David Peralta was held to 99 games due to injury, Steven Souza Jr. got hurt before the season started and the rest of the pack was underwhelming.
This offseason, the D-backs have been searching for outfield help.
It was reported that they have interest in former Chicago Cub Nicholas Castellanos and former St. Louis Cardinal Marcell Ozuna, two of the biggest outfield names on the market.
But, there is a large crop of players that the D-backs could look at, some more cost effective.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Wednesday that the D-backs are among teams who are in on Castellanos, who is coming off of a career year in 2019.
The big righty could provide serious power in the middle of the Arizona lineup. His slugging percentage has been over .500 in the past two seasons and he slugged his career-high .525 in 2019. He also belted the most home runs of his career with 27.
There are two issues with Castellanos, though.
A National League team is an odd fit for him because he is a poor defender. In 2578.1 career innings in right field, he has -35 defensive runs saved (how many runs he saved or costed his team compared to an average defender).
His signing would defy general manager Mike Hazen’s tendencies to prefer strong defense.
Another issue, as pointed out by John Gambadoro of 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station, is that Castellanos is a Scott Boras client coming off of a career season at the plate. He will cost a lot of money this offseason, which may not be worth it for Arizona due to his lack of ability to field.
Morosi reported on Nov. 22 that the D-backs were one of several teams that are after Ozuna.
The former Cardinal and Marlin was a force in 2017. He blasted 37 home runs and finished with a wRC+ (weighted runs created plus) of 143 (MLB average is 100).
After that, he was rather pedestrian in St. Louis (.777 OPS in two years).
He showed good power, especially last season, but he did not find the magic of 2017.
Still, he has an above-average bat and provides decent defense. Perhaps in a lineup with Marte and Eduardo Escobar, Ozuna could get better pitches to see and could produce better.
As for price, Ozuna declined a $17.8 million qualifying offer from St. Louis, so a potentially high price and competitive market could squeeze out the D-backs.
Calhoun is a really interesting option for the D-backs.
He is from Buckeye, Ariz., and played college ball at Arizona State.
Plus, unlike Castellanos, Calhoun is a stellar defensive right fielder and unlike Ozuna, he is likely affordable.
The former Angel won the 2015 Gold Glove and was a finalist in each of the past three years (Mookie Betts exists to win the award every season). Since Marte can play both second base and center field, right field is the biggest hole on the team, which Calhoun could fill.
His $14 million option was declined by the Angels, so there’s the chance that his market value is below that threshold.
He had a solid hitting season in 2019 as well. He hit 33 home runs (career-high) with a wRC+ of 108. His biggest issue was that his strikeout rate rose to 25.6%.
Castellanos, Ozuna and Calhoun all have their flaws, but Calhoun will likely be signed for the lowest amount and provides the best defense. He could be Arizona’s best bet for its buck.
Pillar has been a premier defender in center field over his seven-year career. He has great range, although he was better in right field last season. Luckily for Arizona, they have Marte, and could shift both he and Pillar around should they land the former Giant and Blue Jay.
Plus, Pillar’s slugging percentage has improved in each of the past four seasons, so he could add some power to the lineup. He also stole 14 bags last year.
Pillar is 30 and was non-tendered after making $5.8 million in 2019. He will likely be an affordable plug into a needed outfield position.
D-backs fans are probably more used to booing the former Los Angeles Dodger, but he could add some power (and flair) to Arizona.
He has not hit fewer than 23 home runs since 2016 and he was outstanding at the plate in 2018 (123 wRC+). His number dipped a little last season, but he is still 28 years old and he hit the ball very hard last year.
On defense, he is a capable right fielder with a missile of an arm.
If Castellanos and Ozuna prove to be too costly for their production, then, like Calhoun, Puig could be an intriguing backup option.
There is also the possibility that general manager Mike Hazen addresses the outfield needs through trades.
Betts is the biggest name who is potentially on the trading block, but that would be a tricky deal to orchestrate due to his becoming a free agent after the 2020 season.
Yankees outfielder Clint Frazier is another target, although talk broke down between the two teams last time they discussed a deal surrounding him and Arizona pitcher Robbie Ray.
Maybe those will start again this offseason, as ESPN’s David Schoenfield suggested on Wednesday.
If New York brings back Brett Gardner, then there are not enough outfield spots to fit Frazier in.
He hit well in the majors in 2019 with an .806 OPS. Plus he has experience in all three outfield spots. It’s a logical fit.
Former D-back Mitch Haniger could be another player to look at. He had a down-year in 2019 after a stellar 2018 (.859 OPS). If Arizona can swing a deal for him at a lower price because he is a year removed from that production, then he adds a lot of potential to the lineup.