Diamondbacks, Mike Hazen high on growth from shortstop Nick Ahmed
The last bit of business on a lengthy to-do list for Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen would have been a luxury if he got to it, and he did.
Extending shortstop Nick Ahmed was made official on Monday, with a four-year, $32.5 million deal.
On a conference call Monday, Hazen said looking at shortstop as a “position of stability” was a priority. That’s easy to do with Ahmed, who has led the National League in defensive WAR back-to-back seasons that has resulted in back-to-back Gold Gloves.
On top of that, Ahmed has improved as a hitter.
“We’ve seen a steady commitment to an approach working with him that has really moved him forward as an offensive player,” Hazen said. “Given the way he plays defense, he’s always going to be a positive contributor in any way. How he’s rounded himself out offensively at the major league level over the last few years has been something that we’ve really benefitted from and will continue to benefit from.”
Ahmed quietly had a career year at the plate in 2019, posting bests in homers (19), RBIs (82), walks (52), batting average (.254), on-base percentage (.316), slugging percentage (.437) and OPS (.753).
With Ahmed at that level and under contract the next few years, the D-backs can remain patient at one of the deepest infield position in their farm system. Shortstops Geraldo Perdomo, No. 7-ranked among D-backs prospects on MLB Pipeline, and 16th-ranked Blaze Alexander aren’t expected to be major-league ready for the next two seasons.
“Our shortstop depth is coming,” Hazen said. “It’s not at the major league level now and we felt like at some point we’ll turn that position over to a younger player but this next four years we just felt like Nick was playing an extremely high level.”
Ahmed is also a core piece in the clubhouse. He’s the longest-tenured member of the team.
“He has grown as a baseball player and as a leader in our clubhouse over the last few years,” Hazen said. “We felt like it’s an important attribute, especially for that position. There’s probably another position or two where that attribute is extremely important, but for that position and for Nick, what he has brought to the table and to his teammates is extremely valuable for us.”