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Starling Marte to the D-backs? ESPN analysts suggest the idea

Pittsburgh Pirates' Starling Marte (6) scores on a fielding error as Arizona Diamondbacks catcher John Ryan Murphy is late on the tag during the first inning of a baseball game, Monday, June 11, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ pursuit of an outfielder may lead them into the trade market.

There are some free agent names that have been linked to the D-backs like Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, but ESPN’s David Schoenfield and Bradford Doolittle came up with another option in a recent article.

How about Starling Marte?

The trade proposed in the article was Marte for right-handed pitching prospects Levi Kelly, Taylor Widener and Matt Peacock.

Marte has spent the past eight years on the Pittsburgh Pirates.

He was an All-Star in 2016, got suspended for PEDs in 2017, and has bounced back nicely with solid seasons in 2018 and 2019. Last year, he hit 23 home runs with an OPS of .845, both career-highs.

He has experience in center and left field and won Gold Gloves in 2015 and 2016. The article pointed out that his defense was below average in center field last year, but the D-backs have some versatility to work with.

Maybe he moves back to left field, where he was a Gold Glove winner in 2015 and 2016. (David) Peralta has played mostly left field the past two seasons, but he has played right in the past and has a strong arm. That would be a strong outfield, and there would have to be some good marketing opportunities with both Martes on the roster.

A huge plus for Marte is that he is affordable.

His contract lasts for two more seasons with a club option after 2020. He’ll make about $24 million over two years, relatively cheap compared to what Castellanos and Ozuna will likely go for.

Ozuna turned down a $17.8 million qualifying offer and Castellanos is a Scott Boras client coming off of a career-year.

The deal would also cost Arizona some of its best pitching prospects.

Kelly pitched great in Single-A last season and rose to be Arizona’s eighth-best prospect, according to MLB Pipeline. Widener was largely regarded as the D-backs’ strongest pitching prospect in the past, but he struggled mightily in Triple-A (8.10 ERA in 2019) and may need a change of scenery.

But the D-backs have a young rotation with 24-year-old Zac Gallen and 26-year-old Luke Weaver on top. They also received a couple of right-handed pitching prospects from Houston in the Zack Greinke trade last July.

This would be a move that makes sense for the D-backs in order to improve for next season. Marte is a powerful bat who provides speed (25 stolen bases last year) and can fit in multiple positions.

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