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Defining Ketel Marte’s role will help shape D-backs’ offseason plans

Arizona Diamondbacks' Ketel Marte waits for a pitch during the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Colorado Rockies, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Matt York)

With the 2020 MLB postseason officially underway, that means the Arizona Diamondbacks’ offseason is as well.

And after a rather disappointing 25-35 campaign that saw struggles from both position players and the pitching staff, as well as departures, the D-backs’ front office will have some decisions to make over the winter.

“We need to figure out exactly what Ketel (Marte)’s role is going to be next year,” general manager Mike Hazen told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday. “That determines a lot of what we’re going to do. We haven’t done that yet. So I think that either creates or fills other holes in the wake of where he goes and what he’s going to do.”

Hazen added that Marte has told the club that he is open to playing anywhere and doesn’t care if he’s playing in center field or a middle infield spot. Marte started 40 of his 45 games at second base in 2020 after making 89 starts in center field last season.

“As I’ve said before, it’s an absolute luxury that we have in that person and that player, but it requires us to sort of give him a roadmap too and we need to focus in on that,” Hazen said.

In 45 games this season (181 at-bats), Marte amassed 52 hits, 14 doubles, two home runs and 17 RBsI while slashing .287/.323/.409.

However, the 2019 All-Star was forced to miss some time this year after wrist inflammation put him on the injured list just before the end of the season.

“He fought hard to get back to show his teammates he wanted to play some baseball even when we were eliminated,” manager Torey Lovullo told reporters via Zoom on Tuesday. “I think that was a pretty impressive part of his year for me, he still had decent numbers.

“However, I think in 2019, he spoiled us with what he could do and I want everybody to remember that this is still a pretty dynamic and very good baseball player. … I’m just looking forward to having him come back in next year and be healthy.”

The manager went on to say that he believes Marte could win the Gold Glove at shortstop, second base or center field. But when asked about which position Marte would be playing next season, Lovullo stressed that the decision is ultimately up to Hazen.

“Everybody knows that those are the most dynamic spots on the field. So I don’t know how it’ll play out, I’ll leave that up to Mike (Hazen),” Lovullo said.

“But when [Marte] comes back next year, I think Ketel will be ready to go and he’s committed to doing whatever we ask of him. We just have to lay it out for him. As long as we can lay it out for him — give him the road map — I think he’s going to be on point with what we ask him to do.”

Last season, the Dominican slashed .329/.389/.592 and hit 32 home runs to go along with 92 RBIs and 10 stolen bases. And when asked if he still believed Marte could return to form that named him a 2019 NL All-Star, Hazen didn’t hold back on his confidence in the D-backs’ switch-hitter.

“Yes, we think he’s a top-five player.”

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