Opening Day for the Arizona Diamondbacks is just one day away, and the team has begun to transition out of Spring Training mode. Along with this comes final roster decisions, where Mike Hazen and Torey Lovullo try to pack the most value into 25 players that give them the best chance to win. The Arizona Diamondbacks made an under-the-radar move that could have a surprising impact on their success this year.
On Saturday, they negotiated a trade for Red Sox infielder Deven Marrero in exchange for either a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Marrero has historically profiled as a player with plus defensive ability that has experience at each of the middle infield positions and third. It’s not entirely ludicrous to think he will see some time at third base, shortstop, and second base for the team this season.
“We love his versatility. He’s got great defensive ability, hit left-handers well last year. Great teammate, good baseball player,” –D-Backs’ GM Mike Hazen on Marrero.
What the 27-year-old Marrero is not is an imposing offensive threat at the plate. In segments of three seasons with the Red Sox, he’s slashed .208/.259/.309 for his career. It’s not to say that he can’t improve his skills in this category under the tutelage of the Arizona coaching staff, but it’s important to evaluate his limitations realistically.
He went 13 for 53 (.245) for the Red Sox this spring while leading the team with 21 strikeouts.
While Marrero’s had a rough time establishing himself as a consistent MLB-caliber hitter for the past few years, GM Mike Hazen has been a believer in Deven since the beginning of his professional career. Hazen was the Red Sox Assistant GM when they drafted him 24th overall in the 2012 draft.
Fast forward three years, when Marrero made his debut for the Red Sox, his bench coach was current D-Backs manager, Torey Lovullo.
“I’m anxious to see where he’s at because I haven’t seen him in over a year. He’s as passionate a player as I can remember,” Lovullo remarked.
Marrero’s connections to baseball in Arizona extend further than the Diamondbacks organization as well. From 2010-2012, he excelled playing college baseball at Arizona State University.
Some of his accolades include the 2011 Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year and three-time All-Conference First-Team player. He also holds the ASU freshman batting average record, hitting .397 in 2010.
When Boston selected him in the first round of the 2012 draft, Marrero was expected to be the long-awaited solution at shortstop following the departure of Nomar Garciaparra in 2004. He and fellow Sun Devil alum, Dustin Pedroia, were expected to be the middle-infield of the future.
However, when a young shortstop named Xander Bogaerts got a September call-up in 2013, the kid from Aruba took advantage of his opportunity and never looked back. Bogaerts has since won two Silver Sluggers and was an All-Star in 2016.
The Red Sox then experimented with Marrero as a third baseman. That plan had gained momentum until the rise of yet another emerging superstar. Rafael Devers showed tremendous poise in his first season in the Big Leagues, earning the starting job as a twenty-one-year-old out of the Dominican Republic.
Coming into the spring, Marrero knew he wasn’t likely to win a starting position in Boston. Nor was he likely to be of any service at all, marginalized on the depth chart behind the likes of utility men Eduardo Nuñez and Brock Holt.
Now it seems that the theme behind this transition for Marrero is “a fresh start.” He’ll be returning to a geographical area where he’s comfortable while being evaluated by the eyes of familiar faces. He gets to rebrand himself, hoping that a change of scenery can help be a catalyst for his evolution as a player.
“You find different families everywhere, and I can’t wait to create one here with this group.” –Deven Marrero on joining the D-Backs
Marrero wasn’t a lock to make the Opening Day roster at the time of the trade, but the assignment to Triple-A for Yasmany Tomas opened up a spot for him.
On Monday against the Indians, Marrero came in to play second base and walked in his only plate appearance. Starting second baseman Chris Owings went 1-4 with a run scored and a strikeout. Daniel Descalso went 1-3 with an RBI and a run scored while starting in left field.
The majority of Marrero’s time will be as a defensive replacement at the end of games and possibly platooning with Lamb at third when he needs an off day against a lefty. Below are his splits that show he can hit left-handed major league pitching.
The Diamondbacks open up the season on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies. The pitching matchup will be Jon Gray for Colorado and Patrick Corbin for Arizona. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 P.M.
Photo Credit to CLNS Media