The Arizona Diamondbacks have further provided depth to their outfield, signing former Los Angeles Angel Kole Calhoun to a two-year, $16 million contract with a 2022 club option that is worth $9 million, according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan.
Arizona has long been trying to move Ketel Marte from centre field to second base, his natural position, so it’s reasonable to think that they’ll be counting on him to be an everyday outfielder for the team come March. His production has been overlooked in the past couple of years but he experienced his best year in 2019 and is quietly a solid power hitter.
Calhoun bounced back from a disappointing 2018 season hitting career-high 33 homers and recording his highest OPS of .792. He had one of his best campaigns in terms of WAR (2.3) and total bases (258; third-highest in a season), so he’s more than a reliable option as opposed to what the team currently has.
David Peralta‘s spot in left field is unmovable. With Marte out of the equation, the only remaining options are Tim Locastro, a sub-par hitter, and Josh Rojas, who lacks experience as an MLB starting outfielder. Calhoun provides a better option offensively than both of them in the short term.
The Dbacks had long planned an impactful outfielder as their next move after dropping the bomb with Madison Bumgarner coming to Phoenix. However, as lacking as this year’s outfield free agent class might be, there were many better, and more expensive, options for a team that still has nearly $60 million before reaching the luxury tax threshold.
Nicholas Castellanos was a near .300 hitter with the Tigers and the Cubs throughout the 2019 season. It’s not a secret that the Pirates are listening to trade offers for Starling Marte. Marcell Ozuna and Yasiel Puig are prominent power hitters who are still looking for their 2020 (and beyond) ball club. And yet, the Diamondbacks chose Calhoun. Why was that?
It’s not a wrong question to ask. Much praise has been directed at the Diamondbacks front office but this move certainly seems a little underwhelming, even considering every different way that Calhoun’s contributions are evaluated.
That surely can’t mean the Dbacks are done for the offseason, despite filling their last hole? This move could be setting up a push for one of the star outfielders mentioned above. That would, meanwhile, mean that Calhoun might not be a starter in right field come Opening Day after all. After successfully reaching in for Bumgarner, the Diamondbacks could a dangerous negotiator in talks for many star free agents that are still out there.
There’s also the possibility of Arizona benching Locastro for good in favor of a star acquisition and still keeping Calhoun as an everyday right fielder. But while the former Angels player is capable of delivering and improving his game at the plate, the offensive display won’t gain much from a Locastro-Calhoun CF-RF partnership.
The Diamondbacks were the sixth-highest scoring batting order in the NL in 2019. While Calhoun coming to Chase Field adds up even more to that, it’s not the finishing touch to the outfield quest Mike Hazen set on after bringing in Madison Bumgarner.
Arizona is still pretty much capable of spending even more, which is unusual to say after a signing such as MadBum. While the Dodgers are huge favorites to win their eighth NL West crown in a row, the Diamondbacks should not look at the task of stopping their dominance in the upcoming season as something impossible, and go out there and add Castellanos or Ozuna to an already stacked batting lineup.
And if they are able to do just that, Calhoun is a great player to stick with in the remaining outfield spot.