The Rays and Yankees have joined the Padres in showing some trade interest in Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed, The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro reports. The D’Backs had begun listening to offers for the defensive star thanks to a surplus of other middle infield options, with San Diego already linked due to manager Andy Green’s familiarity with Ahmed in his old job as Arizona’s third base coach.
It makes sense that both AL East rivals would be checking in on Ahmed given how Tampa and New York have both suffered injury setbacks at shortstop. The Rays are still uncertain as to when Matt Duffy will be able to begin full baseball activities in the wake of his extended recovery from Achilles tendon in his left heel last September. The Yankees, meanwhile, will be without Didi Gregorius until the end of April as the shortstop recovers from a shoulder strain.
At first glance, the Yankees would seem to have the lesser need for Ahmed since they already have several other middle infield options (Ronald Torreyes, Ruben Tejada, Donovan Solano, Pete Kozma, Tyler Wade or even second baseman Starlin Castro) on hand, plus they have a rough idea about when Gregorius will be back on the field. Tampa Bay’s timeline for Duffy is much more uncertain, and the Rays were already operating under something of a strained middle infield in the wake of trading Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers.
Tim Beckham is slated to take over at short in Duffy’s absence, leaving the Rays short a right-handed platoon option for second baseman Brad Miller, who struggles against lefties. Daniel Robertson and the switch-hitting Nick Franklin are the other viable middle infield options on the 40-man roster, as it is rather unlikely that top prospect Willy Adames will get an early promotion to the big leagues.
Ahmed hasn’t shown much at the plate (a .597 OPS over 842 career plate appearances) in his brief career and he carries some notable injury history in the form of season-ending hip surgery from last August. On the plus side, he is controllable through the 2020 season, and potentially through 2021 spending on how much more service time he accumulates this season — he has already clocked two years and 54 days of service time in his career. Ahmed has also shown himself to be a superb defender at short, with +34 Defensive Runs Saved and a 14.3 UZR/150 over 1920 career innings at the position.
In another item from Piecoro, he also reports that the Diamondbacks are listening to offers on right-hander Enrique Burgos. The 26-year-old has a fastball that averages just shy of 96mph and he owns an impressive 10.8 K/9 over 68 1/3 career innings in the majors, though Burgos has managed only a 5.27 ERA thanks to control issues (an even 5.00 BB/9). Piecoro figures that the D’Backs are trying to move Burgos in order to clear a 40-man roster spot for Gregor Blanco, Tom Wilhelmsen, or another player who could win an Opening Day job.