Diamondbacks star Ketel Marte will be one of the most coveted names on this summer’s trade market, but unlike impending free agents Eduardo Escobar and Asdrubal Cabrera, Marte is far from a lock to be traded. To the contrary, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the D-backs have plainly told multiple clubs that Marte won’t be traded. It’s always possible there’s some posturing in such statements, and a large enough offer can make any team consider moving even the most “untouchable” of players. Still, it’s telling that to this point, Arizona apparently hasn’t seemed particularly inclined to listen.
In that same vein, D-backs assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye spoke with the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro about the team’s general approach at the deadline. Broadly speaking, Sawdaye expresses reluctance to trade any long-term, core pieces (e.g. Marte) while also noting that there could be “different dynamics at play in the offseason than there might be in the next three or four weeks.”
Just who the Diamondbacks consider to be core pieces can be debated to an extent, but Marte, who is signed through 2024, is clearly at the forefront of that group. Right-hander Zac Gallen is controlled through the 2025 season, while catcher Carson Kelly is controlled through ’24 and infielder Josh Rojas through ’26. Lefty Caleb Smith, who has pitched quite well since moving into the rotation last month, is perhaps more attainable given that’s controlled through the 2023 campaign.
While Marte is currently on the injured list thanks to a strained hamstring, it’s nevertheless been a brilliant season for the versatile 27-year-old. A switch-hitter capable of playing second base or anywhere in the outfield, Marte is out to a .370/.419/.556 start with four homers and 13 doubles through 148 plate appearances. He’s walked at a respectable (albeit slightly below-average) 8.1 percent clip while striking out at a 14.2 percent rate that is nearly 10 percent lower than the league average. This season isn’t a random outlier, either; Marte slashed .329/.389/.592 in a full season back in 2019 and has combined for a very strong .302/.362/.507 line in his past 1551 plate appearances dating back to 2018.
Marte’s play alone is enough to make him one of MLB’s most sought-after trade candidates, but the contract extension he signed prior to the 2018 campaign has sent his trade value through the roof. That five-year contract guarantees Marte $24MM in total and also includes a pair of club options valued at $10MM (2023) and $12MM (2024).
Those yearly salaries make Marte affordable enough for even small-market clubs, and the $4.8MM annual value is enormously appealing to clubs who find themselves in the vicinity of the luxury-tax barrier. To this point in the season, Marte has been speculatively linked to both New York clubs at length, though there aren’t really any contending clubs who couldn’t find a way to work Marte into their lineup and payroll.
Sawdaye’s comments, while somewhat vague, do suggest that the D-backs will be a bit more open to exploring trades of this magnitude (though not necessarily Marte himself) in the offseason. Trades of controllable, high-end players are typically complex in nature — the sort that teams are reluctant to rush while simultaneously juggling other trade negotiations (as the D-backs will be doing this month with Escobar, Cabrera, Merrill Kelly, David Peralta and others). A wider base of teams also figures to inquire over the winter, as current rebuilders and/or non-contenders look to change their fortunes in advance of the 2022 campaign.
As always, this sort of topic is one that shouldn’t be addressed in absolutes. Even the best and most valuable players in the game are only “untouchable” until the right return is offered. It’s notable that the D-backs aren’t planning to actively shop Marte themselves, though, and seems likely that an interested party would need to approach the Diamondbacks with a particularly sizable offer to even get talks rolling. Regardless of their current stance, other clubs will surely try to sway the Arizona front office’s mindset in the four weeks between now and the July 30 trade deadline — and if that doesn’t bear fruit, we can probably expect an offseason full of rumblings on the Ketel Marte front.