- The Diamondbacks plan to utilize just-acquired catcher Blake Swihart in the outfield corners on occasion, according to manager Torey Lovullo (via Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic). Lovullo added that the Diamondbacks will use the 27-year-old Swihart there to spell veterans Adam Jones and David Peralta, both of whom are in their 30s. The outfield’s not foreign to Swihart, who played 48 games there as a member of the Red Sox, as Piecoro notes. While it’s rare for any catcher to line up in the grass, Lovullo says Swihart is “a pretty special athlete.”
Locastro got a start at each outfield position this season while appearing as a pinch-hitter five times and once as a pinch-runner. For what it’s worth, he had a good run, if short-lived, as he knocked four singles in eleven at-bats, stealing a pair of bases and scoring four runs. Locastro’s utility role will presumably be assumed by new arrival Blake Swihart.
Clarke was the Diamondbacks 10th ranked prospect per MLB.com, and though he’s not as heralded as fellow right-handers like Jon Duplantier and Taylor Widener, Clarke is nonetheless an intriguing arm with stellar control and a hopeful future in Arizona’s rotation. He has struggled to kick off the season for Triple-A Reno, going 1-1 with a 7.36 ERA, but he put in a solid campaign in 2018 with an overall 13-8 record and 4.03 ERA over a full season in Reno.
Clarke provides the bullpen with an extra arm while they await Swihart’s arrival from Boston. Swihart will likely join the team on Monday in Pittsburgh, per MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert (via Twitter). The former catcher will shed his shinguards in Arizona, who already have three catchers on the roster.
The Diamondbacks have acquired catcher Blake Swihart from the Red Sox, per a club announcement. International pool money is also going to Arizona in the deal — $500K in spending capacity, GM Mike Hazen tells reporters including Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (Twitter links) — with outfield prospect Marcus Wilson going to Boston in return.
Swihart had been designated for assignment recently. He’s now heading to an interesting situation with the Snakes. Hazen is among several top D-Backs executives that came over from the Red Sox; needless to say, the team is amply familiar with Swihart.
The Diamondbacks are the one organization in baseball that has been most dedicated to carrying three catcher-capable players on its active roster. That’s particularly relevant for Swihart, given that his questionable abilities behind the plate have thus far limited his chances in the majors. But the plan doesn’t appear to be for the out-of-options Swihart to displace a current D-Backs receiver (Carson Kelly, John Ryan Murphy, Caleb Joseph). Rather, Hazen indicates that the club intends to utilize him in some kind of utility capacity.
It’ll be interesting to see whether the Arizona organization is better able to draw value out of Swihart than were the Sox. Prior attempts at moving him around the field didn’t work out. And his well-regarded bat hasn’t yet done much damage in the majors, though to be fair opportunities have come in fits and starts to this point. In 626 career plate appearances at the game’s highest level, Swihart carries a .255/.314/.365 slash with nine home runs, ten steals, and a combination of a 25.7% strikeout rate and 7.7% walk rate.
The Red Sox won’t come away with what they hoped for out of Swihart, who was once considered quite a high-end prospect. But they were able to add an interesting player in Wilson, who was taken 69th overall in the 2014 draft. He has some swing and miss in his game but also has drawn his share of walks and has produced solid numbers at times in the low minors. An intriguing athlete, Wilson is off to a nice start this year at Double-A and is seen as possessing a relatively lofty ceiling.
- Lefty T.J. McFarland is on the mend for the Diamondbacks, MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert reports. He’ll launch a rehab effort tomorrow as he seeks to finish off a return from a bout of shoulder inflammation. Once he’s deemed ready, McFarland will join Andrew Chafin as a southpaw combo in the D-Backs pen. The 29-year-old produced strong results last year after several rough seasons, working to a 2.00 ERA over 72 frames. Though he carried a typically uninspiring blend of 5.3 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9, McFarland also posted an eye-popping 67.9% groundball rate.
- Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald chatted with D-backs GM Mike Hazen and assistant GM Amiel Sawdaye (both former Red Sox execs) about the team’s current standing and unwillingness to plunge into a full-fledged rebuild. “Teams do that to pick at the top of the draft, more for a monetary perspective,” said Sawdaye of the growing trend of aggressive tanking. However, the Diamondbacks knew they’d have a huge bonus pool this year by virtue of qualifying offers to Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, and they were able to land a second Competitive Balance draft selection in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Hazen acknowledged that it’s “cleaner and easier” to declare that a team is either rebuilding or “all-in” on winning, but the Arizona organization is trying to walk the line. Hazen cites the unexpected success of the Athletics and Rays in 2018 as a means of pointing out that even clubs tabbed by projection systems as middle-of-the-pack teams can make strong postseason pushes. Sawdaye voiced a belief that the D-backs inherited a team that had more talent than the Astros or Cubs at the time those teams opted for a full-scale teardown, while Hazen stressed the importance of fostering a “culture of winning” even in times of possible transition. Both execs offer insight and perspective that go against some of the game’s common trends right now, making for an interesting interview that’s well worth a read for fans of any club.
The Diamondbacks have reportedly agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with right-hander Ben Taylor, according to the Roster Roundup Twitter account (link). Taylor was released recently by the Indians.
Claimed by the Indians last February, Taylor was cut loose after he was knocked around in two innings this spring. The club evidently did not desire to keep him in their system after bumping him from the 40-man roster. Taylor had undergone hip surgery late last season, according to his own Twitter account.
While the results haven’t been there for Taylor in his limited MLB opportunities, he has run up 26 strikeouts against ten walks in 23 1/3 big-league frames. That has come despite an uninspiring 8.4% swinging-strike rate, though Taylor has shown an ability to get Ks in the upper minors. In 70 2/3 total Triple-A frames, he owns a 2.55 ERA with 10.4 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9.
The Reds have acquired utilityman Rob Refsnyder from the Diamondbacks, according to the Reds’ official Twitter account. In return, the Diamondbacks will receive a player to be named later or cash. Refsnyder will report to Triple-A.
After signing with the Diamondbacks during the offseason, Refsnyder’s stint with the team is over already. The 28-year-old will join a Reds team that has sorely lacked outfield production during the young 2019 season, representing a depth option behind Matt Kemp, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker. Should any of that trio’s early season struggles grow into a significant concern, Refsnyder will be in the minor leagues, capable of filling in at a corner outfield spot. Refsnyder can also play first base and, in theory, second base (though he hasn’t appeared at the keystone in the Major Leagues since 2017), but the path to infield playing time in Cincinnati is crowded.
Refsnyder, who broke into the big leagues in 2015 with the Yankees, has appeared in parts of four seasons with three different teams and owns a career batting line of .218/.308/.302 in 423 MLB plate appearances. Last season, he worked to a .760 OPS in Triple-A, though the .588 mark he posted in 40 games with the Rays was less impressive. Refsnyder, out of options and not on the 40-man roster, largely represents organizational depth at this juncture.
The Diamondbacks will place catcher Alex Avila on the 10-day IL with a strained left quad, according to Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic. In a corresponding move, the team will recall utilityman Tim Locastro from Triple-A to take Avila’s place on the 25-man roster.
Avila, 32, has made four starts for the Diamondbacks in 2019 and has performed well, slashing .333/.524/.800 in his 21 plate appearances. The veteran backstop has also hit two home runs on the young season and has posted an impressive 6:5 BB:K ratio. Though the results were not as encouraging in 2018, Avila’s first season in Arizona, the team will surely miss his presence behind the plate. However, Avila’s absence will open up opportunities for the team to give more ABs to young catcher Carson Kelly, who was acquired in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. Kelly, blocked by Yadier Molina for his entire career, has amassed just 145 career plate appearances in parts of four big league season, first with the Cardinals and now in Arizona.
Since the D-Backs opened the season carrying three catchers on the 25-man roster, the team didn’t need to replace Avila with another catcher. John Ryan Murphy will assume the backup duties behind Kelly, and Locastro will join the Major League roster as a reserve who can play all three outfield spots and second base. The 26-year-old spent several seasons with the Dodgers before being traded twice this offseason, first to the Yankees, and later to the Diamondbacks, who surrendered Ronald Roman and cash considerations to acquire Locastro. With Jarrod Dyson the team’s fourth outfielder and Ildemaro Vargas slotted in as the backup infielder following Jake Lamb’s injury, it’s unclear how much playing time Locastro will see, though he will afford the D-Backs some flexibility to rest outfielders.
The Diamondbacks have put corner infielder Jake Lamb on the 10-day injured list. He’s dealing with a grade 2 quad strain, manager Torey Lovullo tells reporters including Zach Buchanan of The Athletic (Twitter link).
Lamb is expected to miss around six weeks of action, by Lovullo’s reckoning, though that seems only to be an initial guess. It seems the team will be pleased if he’s back on the MLB diamond by the end of May. For the time being, at least, the D-Backs will recall utilityman Ildemaro Vargas to fill the open roster spot.
The Snakes tendered Lamb a contract and promised him $4.825MM despite a miserable 2018 season. He had been a solidly above-average hitter in the prior two seasons, though, so the hope was that the 28-year-old would bounce back after an injury riddled campaign. He’ll now need to get past his new injury before taking a crack at finding his form.
- Diamondbacks infielder Jake Lamb pulled up lame while legging out a double in this afternoon’s game, and the early diagnosis is a strained left quadriceps, per The Athletic’s Zach Buchanan (Twitter link). Lamb will undergo an MRI tomorrow to further evaluate the severity of the injury. If Lamb is to miss time with the injury, the D-backs can increase Christian Walker’s role at first base and perhaps mix in Alex Avila a bit as well. The 28-year-old Lamb has gotten off to a slow start in 2019 as he looks to rebound from a 2018 campaign that was ruined by shoulder troubles.