Hazen: D-backs not looking to move Carson Kelly after adding Gabriel Moreno

Dec 27, 2022, 7:43 AM

Catcher Carson Kelly #18 of the Arizona Diamondbacks prepares to take the field before the MLB game...

Catcher Carson Kelly #18 of the Arizona Diamondbacks prepares to take the field before the MLB game against the Philadelphia Phillies at Chase Field on August 30, 2022 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

As part of a package for outgoing outfielder Daulton Varsho, the Arizona Diamondbacks acquired catcher Gabriel Moreno, who before he graduated from rookie status last season was the No. 7 prospect in baseball.

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen told reporters after the trade with the Toronto Blue Jays that he sees the 22-year-old Moreno making an impact in 2023 after he played well over a 25-game span last year.

But that does not spell the end of catcher Carson Kelly’s time in Arizona, as Hazen said the Moreno addition does not mean he is looking to move the 28-year-old veteran.

“This isn’t about (Moreno) coming in here and having to take over that position,” Hazen said. “We feel like this is a good runway for him. We very much still believe in Carson and what he can do and he has the experience on our staff to lead the pitchers, this group of pitchers that we’ve had now. And so we feel like it’s a good match.”

“We still think Carson is a very important piece to what we have here, Hazen added.”

Kelly has played 352 games with the D-backs since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals as part of the Paul Goldschmidt trade at the end of the 2018 season.

Through inconsistent offensive production over the four seasons, the backstop has produced a 95 OPS+ (100 is league average) and received praise for his work with the pitching staff.

Moreno has had a cup of coffee in the bigs but, as Hazen put it, hasn’t played enough to cross the divide from minor leaguer to major leaguer more than a handful of games. Hazan complimented the young catcher’s hitting ability and blocking but said there is some work to do with his receiving.

There’s still a role in Hazen’s eyes for Kelly this upcoming season, potentially as the Opening Day starter.

The GM also assured that Kelly’s role is far more than a designated mentor to Moreno.

Hazen said the catcher is a natural leader but his focus should be on being as effective on the field as possible next season.

“When we talk to Carson, ‘Mentorship is great, but you need to take care of yourself first, right?'” Hazen said. “Carson the player needs to shine. And we’ll handle the mentorship organically. 

“We’ve talked to him about that and that’s great because he always wants to help. And he does, and he will have experience in certain areas and he’s such a great teammate. I want Carson being the best catcher that he can be for our team.”

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