The Diamondbacks have claimed outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker off waivers from the Cardinals, according to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (via Twitter). He represents the first player acquisition for new GM Mike Hazen.
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Hazelbaker debuted last year in St. Louis at 28 years of age, breaking onto the scene with an unexpectedly hot start. He ultimately came back down to earth, though, and ended the year with a cumulative .235/.295/.480 slash and 12 home runs over 224 plate appearances. Hazelbaker’s sub-par on-base percentage and 28.6% strikeout rate raise questions about whether he can produce consistently at the big league level — particularly if he isn’t able to maintain a lofty .245 isolated power mark.
While there is cause for pessimism in a player who has never really been seen as much of a prospect and wasn’t able to crack the majors until his age-28 campaign, there are also some reasons for hope. Hazelbaker has abused Triple-A pitching since coming to St. Louis in the middle of the 2015 season, and has shown some pop at times in the past. Plus, the lefty hitter was much better against right-handed pitching, suggesting he could have some platoon function.
It’s not yet clear just what Arizona intends to do with Hazelbaker, but he could certainly share time in a corner outfield spot or play off the bench. David Peralta is the team’s only established, southpaw-swinging outfielder, though youngster Socrates Brito also saw a good bit of major league time last year and players like Zach Borenstein may be ready to challenge for an opportunity.