The Diamondbacks announced that they have selected the contract of infielder Buddy Kennedy. In corresponding moves, they optioned infielder Emmanuel Rivera and designated outfielder Kristian Robinson for assignment.
Robinson hit .271/.384/.452 in 185 combined plate appearances at three different minor league levels — a game of rookie ball, 32 games at A-level Visalla and 10 games at high-A Hillsboro. It marked his first on-field action since the 2019 season, as Robinson had been on the restricted list for almost three years. Back in May, MLBTR’s Anthony Franco detailed the legal and visa hurdles that stalled Robinson’s career, stemming from an April 2020 incident that initially resulted in Robinson pleading guilty to a felony assault charge. The charge was reduced to a misdemeanor if Robinson completed an 18-month probation period, and while that probation period was up in the spring, Robinson had to essentially put his baseball career on hold until its completion.
Though Robinson’s numbers in the minors are pretty solid, and he is only a couple of years removed from top-100 prospect status, the D’Backs are willing to move on from the 22-year-old outfielder. Claiming Robinson would require a 40-man roster spot from an interested team, but it would seem like someone will certainly take a flier on a player with his pedigree. That said, it would stand to reason that Arizona might’ve shopped Robinson on the trade market while opting for the DFA, but apparently didn’t find any acceptable offers. Because Robinson was on the 40-man roster, he is ineligible to be dealt after the trade deadline.
Rivera’s .267/.311/.376 slash line over 238 PA doesn’t quite tell the whole story of the infielder’s season, as Rivera got off to a blazing start and started getting regular duty at third base in place of Evan Longoria and Josh Rojas. However, Rivera has markedly slowed down at the plate, with only a .519 OPS in his last 123 PA. With Rivera sent to Triple-A to regroup, Longoria on the 10-day injured list, and Rojas traded to the Mariners as part of the Paul Sewald deal, utilityman Jace Peterson and Kennedy now look like the starting platoon at third base.
Kennedy was a fifth-round pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2017 draft, and he made his MLB debut last season in the form of 30 games and 94 plate appearances (hitting .217/.287/.325). The D’Backs outrighted him off the 40-man roster after the season and he has been tearing up Triple-A pitching in 2023, hitting .318/.447/.480 over 407 PA with Triple-A Reno with five homers and 22 doubles.
Most of Kennedy’s professional playing time has come as a third baseman, though he logged a lot of innings at second base and gotten some work at first base and left field. It could be that Kennedy will just be a stopgap until Longoria is able to return, but it represents another move at a position that has been a problem area for the Diamondbacks all season. The revolving door at third base is just one of many issues for a struggling Arizona team that is 8-25 since the start of July, and currently mired in a nine-game losing streak.