Where the Randal Grichuk addition leaves Diamondbacks’ roster

Feb 17, 2024, 5:24 PM | Updated: 7:03 pm

Randal Grichuk...

Randal Grichuk #15 of the Los Angeles Angels makes a catch off a ball hit by Wilmer Flores #41 of the San Francisco Giants in the first inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 9, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)

SCOTTSDALE — Never say never, but the Arizona Diamondbacks position player pool for Opening Day appears to be set with the latest addition of outfielder Randal Grichuk.

Arizona announced Grichuk signed a one-year deal with a mutual option for 2025 on Saturday, giving the D-backs a right-handed-hitting option who has had success against left-handed pitching and plays all three outfield spots.

That doesn’t mean the front office is done looking externally with more than five weeks before games count, but the D-backs have 18 position players on the 40-man roster — eight of whom are outfielders — with experienced non-roster invitees fighting for jobs in infielder Kevin Newman and catcher Tucker Barnhart.

“Still working on things … While there’s still opportunities to improve the roster out on the market, we’re gonna stay engaged in the market and see what happens,” general manager Mike Hazen said Saturday.

“I think building out relief depth is probably something that we’re talking about. Pitching in general … I think from a position player standpoint, we’re probably in a spot where it’s less likely to see a clear opportunity for somebody. But we still have competitions underneath the starting roles. So we’ll see where that takes us.”

Grichuk slashed .267/.321/.459 last year between the Colorado Rockies and Los Angeles Angels with 16 home runs and 31 doubles. He produced an exceptional .995 OPS in 134 plate appearances against lefties and a below average .694 against righties in 337 plate appearances, similar to his 2022 output.

He played 118 games last year, but the Diamondbacks have the outfield depth from the left side of the batter’s box (Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Joc Pederson and Jake McCarthy) to pick Grichuk’s spots strategically. Pederson signed with Arizona in January as a left-handed power bat and designated hitter option, one with notable platoon splits of his own. Grichuk arrives as a counterbalance, and how exactly the Diamondbacks deploy him will be discussed as he gets acclimated.

“We feel like we’ve got a very good complement of players where we’re trying to eliminate some gaps or some holes and maximize some run scoring opportunities,” manager Torey Lovullo said. “He’s a quality right-handed bat so where he slots in, I’m not exactly sure right now, but we’ll figure that out.”

“Hoping at some point he could spell us at center, too,” Hazen said. “… Something we’ve long talked about is at some point the goal of getting Corbin into one spot, getting the most comfortable and excelling in one position. But we’ll see where that goes. We have a lot of stuff to still digest with exactly how all that’s gonna play out and Torey is gonna have many more specifics on exactly how he intends to do these things.”

Grichuk played 559 innings in left field, 192.2 innings in right field and 145.2 frames in center last year. Carroll played 481.1 innings each in right and left field with 304 frames in center last season.

The D-backs need to pick 13 position players for Opening Day over the next month-plus.

If healthy, catcher Gabriel Moreno, first baseman Christian Walker, second baseman Ketel Marte, shortstop Geraldo Perdomo, third baseman Eugenio Suarez, outfielders Carroll, Thomas, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Pederson and now Grichuk appear to be the locks at this point.

A backup catcher takes a spot, leaving two more tough decisions on building a bench with infielders Newman, Emmanuel Rivera, Jace Peterson, Jordan Lawlar, Blaze Alexander and Pavin Smith, along with outfielders McCarthy and Jorge Barrosa in the mix.

“The challenges are good challenges,” Hazen said. “If you want to be a successful organization over the long haul, you have to be good at continuing to add to areas that improve your major league team and making sure that your 40-man roster and even the guys who are off the roster but at the upper levels of your system are good to step in. We’re gonna take on injuries, every team takes on injury. … If that second line of defense is not up to par, that’s where you start losing baseball games. We’ve tried to ensure that’s as strong as it as it can be.”

McCarthy stands out in that group as an Opening Day starting outfielder last year after a strong finish to the 2022 season.

If the D-backs keep six outfielders on the roster, that leaves only five infield spots. Rivera has first base experience, as does Pederson. Newman and Peterson offer some versatility. Lovullo has said Perdomo will be given the opportunity to be the everyday starting shortstop, but he also can play multiple positions when needed.

That all helps McCarthy’s chances for the roster, and as Hazen pointed out, injuries will require contributions from the next wave off the bench or in Triple-A Reno.

“Jake is a fantastic baseball player,” Lovullo said. “He came rushing on the scene in 2022 and was probably one of our most productive offensive players. I think the league made an adjustment to him, and he did fine last year. It wasn’t that he had a terrible year and hit .120. He had a fine year. I think Jake is better than fine and wants to excel like the year before. What I want to see are consistent at-bats, controlling the zone, getting on base in an assortment of ways, driving the baseball, playing solid defense, just being himself and having fun out there. He’s very athletic and a very good player who is gonna swing some games.”

Spring training notes

Justin Martinez

The Diamondbacks brought out a physical strike zone for 22-year-old fireballer Justin Martinez during his bullpen session on Saturday. Martinez has 100-mph stuff with a deadly splitter, but he walked 11 batters and hit two others with pitches in 10 innings of major league work in 2023.

When discussing the bullpen, Hazen on Friday pointed to Martinez as someone he is looking at to harness his stuff and join the mix.

“(Pitching coach Brent Strom) insisted on it being part of his next set of bullpens,” Lovullo said. “So it’s just to get him in the zone. I think his big challenge is to be consistent with his fastball. There’s a lot of velo there, there’s a lot of swing-and-miss potential but it’s got to be on or near the plate. So I think Strommy just wants to reinforce those good habits.”

Live BP

Eduardo Rodriguez, Ryne Nelson and Scott McGough were among Diamondbacks pitchers to jump on the bump and face a group of hitters, including Moreno, Barnhart and Newman.

Saturday was Nelson’s third live BP session of the spring.

“The pitches get a little bit sharper, and you start to understand where they’re starting and where they’re moving, just a progression as time moves forward,” Nelson — who has been working at the facility for most of the offseason — said. “They get a little sharper, a little tighter.”

Moreno hit pitcher Humberto Castellanos in the lower leg with a comebacker, but Castellanos continued his session and Lovullo said afterward he was fine.

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