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As a diehard Arizona Diamondbacks fan, I try to make it a point every night to peruse their minor league box scores to get a glimpse at the future of the franchise.

One farmhand who has been jumping off the page all season is former Arizona Wildcats pitcher Kevin Ginkel, who currently plays for the Reno Aces, the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A affiliate.

Combined with his numbers at Double-A Jackson, where Ginkel began the 2019 season, the 25-year-old right-hander has recorded a 1.80 ERA in 35 innings this year, holding opposing hitters to a .157 average.

You think that’s impressive? How’s this: Ginkel has fanned 63 batters, giving him a ridiculous strikeout rate of 16.2 Ks per nine innings. That is roughly the same strikeout rate as Milwaukee Brewers reliever Josh Hader, who leads the MLB in Ks/9, is posting.

Even in the hitter’s paradise that is the Pacific Coast League, Ginkel is dominating. The Lakeside, Calif. native has logged 16.1 innings for the Aces, allowing just three earned runs with a whopping 36 strikeouts.

At one point, Ginkel had a four-game stretch in which he struck out the side in every outing. He recently became Reno’s closer and has recorded a save in four straight appearances.

“What helps me and what makes me successful is working the top and bottom of the strike zone,” he told our sister site AZ SnakePit. “I try to work north to south and that plays with my fastball and slider combination. Using that to my advantage and changing eye levels is critical in my game, so being able to execute your pitches is the whole entire thing.

“I know that Colorado, the ball flies and even at Chase Field the ball can fly some times, and other big league parks you can see on TV. It all comes down to pitch execution and watching the Zack Greinkes and Clayton Kershaws of the world, watching their start and watching them pitch efficiently down in the zone. When they need to elevate, they will and watching those guys work is a thing of beauty. I really appreciate watching those guys and seeing what makes them work. Pitch execution is critical in this league.”

A 22nd-round pick, Ginkel pitched for the Wildcats for one season—2016, the year UA reached the College World Series championship series—after transferring in from Southwestern College. He split time between the bullpen and the starting rotation, compiling a 2.80 ERA in 64.1 innings.

While those are good numbers, his strikeout rate at Arizona (6.3 Ks per nine) was nothing like it is in the minor leagues.

After struggling in A-ball in 2017, Ginkel’s second year in the minors, he made some mechanical changes and has been virtually unhittable ever since.

“I saw a pitching coach independently, away from the Diamondbacks, a couple seasons ago. I struggled in 2017 with injury and overall command, my velocity was down, and I needed to see someone,” he said. “I got in touch with a player and he told me about this coach and I went into his facility and we talked about what needs to work to get my velocity back up to where it once was and he got me on a lifting program, throwing program and I started to see some results right away.

“I knew I was always able to throw hard, in college I could throw mid 90s and so I was just trying to figure out how to get that back. Seeing him has helped evolve my game. I’ve always wanted to be aggressive, I just never knew the right way to do it. I found mechanically I’ve made some tweaks, incorporating my lower half more, which has helped my arm feel better day in and day out and overall command. Developing that and finding what works for me has made a huge adjustment in my game and I didn’t expect to be this successful quickly. Overall, I’m just happy where I’m at in my career and looking to keep progressing and moving forward and I’m excited for what lies ahead.”

It seems the only thing that can prevent Ginkel from making his MLB debut is the injury bug. He missed all of June with an arm injury, and said recently that he is still trying to get back to 100 percent.

But the Diamondbacks just dealt Zack Greinke, are quickly falling out of playoff contention, and their bullpen has been a disaster all season, so it seems like it’s only a matter of time before Ginkel gets a shot to shine on the big stage.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks are starting Triple-A Reno pitcher Alex Young on Thursday, manager Torey Lovullo announced after Tuesday’s loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The D-backs finalized the roster move before the game Thursday by selecting Young’s contract and optioning reliever Stefan Crichton to the Aces. Outfielder Steven Souza Jr. was transferred to the 60-day injured list to open room on the 40-man roster for Young.

“I remember a couple of his outings, I remember a couple things that he did in spring training,” Lovullo said Wednesday of Young. “I was impressed with the short looks that we got. And that’s what spring training’s all about: make a positive impression on the staff. You know you’re not going to make the team, you’re there just for a quick shot.”

Young had been expected to be called up by the D-backs, as 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station‘s John Gambadoro said Tuesday. As of Wednesday, he was still not on the roster, but he had joined the team.

“We wanted to get him here and just get him close to the guys, some new faces,” Lovullo said. “He hasn’t spent a lot of time around a lot of these guys. So just to use that as a comfort day just to get in here and get his feet on the ground.”

Young is a 25-year-old left-hander who has yet to make his MLB debut since being drafted in the second round by Arizona in 2015.

Arizona could use another arm as it has struggled to get quality starting pitching from their fifth spot in the rotation. Top pitching prospect Jon Duplantier has been hurt, as has Luke Weaver. Lovullo told Burns & Gambo on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station on Tuesday that Zack Godley will go back to the bullpen.

Young owns a 6.09 ERA in 20 appearances in Reno this year, eight of those appearances being starts. He has thrown 54.2 innings and has a 1.683 WHIP. In fairness to Young, the Aces play in a hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League.
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His ERA in eight starts this season is 5.79 in 32.2 innings pitched.

The Illinois native attended Texas Christian University and had a 1.29 ERA in his first season of professional baseball. In nine starts with Double-A Jackson last season, Young had an ERA of 3.91. It was 5.96 in Reno last year.

Crichton, a 27-year-old right-hander, has made eight appearances for Arizona this season and has a 4.50 ERA over 10 innings. This was his second stint of the season with the D-backs.

He was originally acquired from the Baltimore Orioles in April of 2018 for cash before being released in June of that year. He was then signed to a minor-league contract by Arizona and pitched in Triple-A to wrap up last season and begin 2019.

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Eric Hosmer could not stop his swing, and right-hander Taijuan Walker slapped his glove in celebration of the inning-ending strikeout. For the second time in as many weeks, a pitcher expected to be a key part of next year’s rotation had briefly demonstrated his health – and, in the process, provided a glimmer of hope for the Diamondbacks.

In his first and only big-league inning of the year, Walker gave up a hit, struck out a batter, hit 94 mph on the radar gun and threw a total of 15 pitches. His appearance in the Diamondbacks’ 1-0 win over the San Diego Padres on Sunday afternoon at Chase Field did not last long, but it meant something to both him and the organization as they turn their attention toward next year.

The Diamondbacks ended their season with five consecutive victories, all of which came after they officially were eliminated from postseason contention. At 85-77, they finished 21 games back of the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers and four games out of a wild-card spot.

“Definitely I can go into the offseason knowing I’m 100 percent, completely healthy,” Walker said. “I can have a normal offseason and get ready for spring training.”

Right-hander Luke Weaver made similar remarks after tossing two innings in his return from the injured list the previous weekend in San Diego. The Diamondbacks will be counting on both he and Walker to play prominent roles in their starting rotation next year.

“It gives us a little bit more clarity, certainly,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “We know they got on the mound, they jumped into that arena of competition. They probably mentally checked a big box off.”

Two years ago, Walker was a mainstay in one of the better rotations in Diamondbacks history, posting a 3.49 ERA with a 146 strikeouts in 157 1/3 innings. Three starts into 2018, he went down with Tommy John surgery, and just as he was nearing a return this past May, he experienced shoulder problems that sidelined him until Sunday.

He threw mostly fastballs and change-ups against the Padres. He largely threw strikes. He elicited a couple of swings and misses. Walker was content with all that. But he seemed genuinely excited to be able to walk off a mound in a game that counted and feel healthy.

“I felt comfortable,” he said. “Just to go out there and get outs for the first time in forever, it felt nice.”

As it stands, the Diamondbacks have too many starters for too few rotation spots for 2020. Beyond Walker and Weaver, there are veterans Robbie Ray and Mike Leake and rookies Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Alex Young.

The team lacks the kind of clear-cut ace that right-hander Zack Greinke represented before he was traded in July. But the Diamondbacks believe they have pitchers capable of developing into that sort of pitcher.

“Every fifth day (with Greinke) you knew you were going to have a really, really good chance to go out and win a baseball game,” Lovullo said. “But I feel like we have other guys who are emerging.”

Walker and Ray each have had success in the majors. Weaver seemed to be developing into a frontline starter before going down with elbow problems in May. Gallen made 15 starts this year in his first exposure to the major leagues; he did not allow more than three runs in any of them.

“I feel like there’s some potential for guys to emerge into that role, but they’re going to have to earn it,” Lovullo said. “You don’t get anointed that position. You have to earn it.”

The Diamondbacks’ season served as an example of how pitching depth can vanish with a handful of injuries. That said, the club could view its rotation surplus as area from which to trade this offseason.

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Former Major League Baseball pitcher Matt Mantei was arrested and jailed in Michigan on Tuesday.

Per TMZ Sports, Mantei was booked into Berrien County Jail after being charged with assault and battery.

Details of the situation that led to Mantei’s arrest were not immediately available.

Originally drafted in the 25th round by the Seattle Mariners in 1991, Mantei made it to the big leagues four years later with the Florida Marlins.

He pitched in 10 MLB seasons from 1995-2005 with the Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks and Boston Red Sox. The right-hander finished 24th in National League MVP voting during the 1999 season, when he had a career-high 99 strikeouts in 65.1 innings, with a 2.76 ERA and 32 saves, for the Marlins and Diamondbacks.

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The Arizona Diamondbacks announced Friday that Domingo Leyba was recalled from Triple-A Reno.

The active roster, which has a limit of 40 players during the month of September and only 25 for the rest of the year, now stands at 33. Because of the expanded limit, there is no corresponding move with Leyba’s call up to the big leagues.

Leyba, who will turn 24 years old on Sept. 11, has played 10 games for the D-backs this year. In that time, he’s gone 3-for-9 (.333) with a double, an RBI and a walk. He debuted on June 22 against the Giants and collected a hit in his first major league at-bat, which was against three-time All-Star Mark Melancon.

He has spent most of the year in Reno, playing 112 games there and hitting .300 with 37 doubles, three triples, 19 homers and 77 RBIs. He ranks fourth in the Pacific Coast League in doubles, 12th in hits and tied for 14th in extra-base hits.
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Leyba joins Kevin Cron as infielders whom the D-backs have recalled for September’s expanded rosters.

The move came ahead of the Diamondbacks’ Friday game against the Reds in Cincinnati.

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The Diamondbacks have acquired right-hander Matt Andriese from the Rays, The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports (Twitter link). Robert Murray, also of The Athletic, was the first to report that Tampa and Arizona had a trade in place. The Rays will receive two minor leaguers in return — catcher Michael Perez (as per Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times) and righty Brian Shaffer (as Rosenthal was the first to report). In a corresponding move, the D’Backs announced that right-hander Randall Delgado has been designated for assignment to create a 40-man spot for Andriese.

Arizona was known to be checking in on the starting pitching market, though rather than splurge on a big name, the Snakes landed a versatile and somewhat underrated asset in Andriese. The 28-year-old has mostly been deployed as a swingman in his three-plus MLB seasons, with the Rays using Andriese as a starter and in both short and long relief roles. He has only started four of his 27 appearances this season, though that stat is somewhat misleading, as you might expect given Tampa Bay’s unconventional use of its pitching staff. Andriese has appeared multiple times as the second pitcher into the game after the likes of Ryne Stanek or Sergio Romo began things as the Rays’ “opener.”

Matt AndrieseDespite the ever-shifting roles, Andriese has been largely successful in Tampa, including a 4.07 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 50.6% grounder rate, and 3.28 K/BB rate this season over 59 2/3 innings, plus a career-best 11.4% swinging strike rate. It represents a nice rebound from an injury-filled 2017, as Andriese was limited to 86 innings (starting 17 of his 18 games) due to hip and groin problems.

The D’Backs have dealt with their own share of pitching injuries this season, though things have somewhat stabilized with a regular starting five of Zack Greinke, Patrick Corbin, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, and successful bounce-back project Clay Buchholz. Still, with Ray and Godley both delivering inconsistent results, Andriese gives the Snakes some extra rotation depth, as well as a valuable durable arm for the bullpen.

Andriese will be eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, and thus the D’Backs had to surrender a not-overwhelming but decent prospect package for Andriese’s three years of control. The 2018 Baseball America Prospect Handbook ranked Perez as Arizona’s 30th-best minor leaguer prior to the season, with MLB.com ranking Shaffer 23rd in their current top-30 ranking of the Snakes’ system.

Perez, 25, has long been heralded as a strong defensive catcher, and he has begun to make some strides at the plate over the last two seasons at the Double-A and Triple-A levels. In 250 career PA at Triple-A, Perez has a solid .291/.348/.445 slash line, though that is both a rather small sample size and perhaps a product of the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League. Even without a big bat, however, Perez still projects as a potential glove-first backup catcher type, which is useful for a Rays team that has long looked for consistency behind the plate. Topkin reports that Perez will join the Rays’ roster on Thursday for his first taste of Major League action.

Shaffer was a sixth-round pick for the Diamondbacks in the 2017 draft. MLB.com’s scouting report cites the 21-year-old’s slider as his best pitch, and he also possesses a fastball that has touched 94mph. Shaffer has delivered good results in his brief pro career thus far, including a 2.70 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and only a 1.8 BB/9 over 106 2/3 frames at the A-ball level this year.

Between this trade and sending Nathan Eovaldi to the Red Sox earlier today, the Rays have continued to churn their roster, even while falling short of an actual rebuild. Indeed, after today’s win over the Yankees, the Rays are now 52-50 for the season, though they are still realistically out of the pennant race (8.5 games back of the last wild card slot). In the short term, Tampa finds itself short two valuable arms for its pitching mix, as it remains to be seen how the Rays’ pitching strategy will continue to evolve without Andriese and Eovaldi around to cover innings.

This represents the third major trade between the Rays and D’Backs in under a year, after the offseason deals that saw Brad Boxberger come to Arizona and the three-team deal (also involving the Yankees) that most notably saw Steven Souza go to Arizona and Brandon Drury head to New York.

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Right-hander Merrill Kelly is doing more than giving the Arizona Diamondbacks a reliable performance every fifth day this season. He also is providing major league general managers a window into the viability of another part of the South Korean market.

Kelly has landed firmly in the Diamondbacks’ starting rotation after spending the last four seasons with SK Wyverns of the Korean Baseball Organization, where he won 48 games and helped lead the team to the league championship in 2018.

Korean influence is not new to the majors, of course. Dodgers left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu, healthy again, leads the NL in ERA while having a career year. Texas’ Shin-Soo Choo has been a fixture in major league outfields for a decade, and Chan Ho Park won 124 games in a 17-year major league career.

But Kelly is breaking new ground. He is the only example of note of an American player who has used the South Korean league as a springboard to the majors. Like St. Louis left-hander Miles Mikolas, who became an All-Star last season after three years in Japan, Kelly has made the transition work in his first three months with the Diamondbacks.

After a short readjustment period, Kelly has settled in nicely. He ranked in the top 21 in the NL in ERA, innings and victories, and he has leant stability to a starting rotation that was in need after Luke Weaver suffered an elbow injury and Zack Godley was moved to the bullpen.

Kelly has taken every turn while logging 94 innings as his next schedule start in San Francisco on Friday approaches. His ERA is lower than that of Madison Bumgarner and German Marquez, and he is tied with Mikolas with eight quality starts, one more than Jon Lester.

Kelly, 7-7 with a 3.93 ERA, also has been a boon to the bottom line of the cost-conscious Diamondbacks, whose current front office liked him when he was in Tampa Bay’s minor league system after being drafted in 2010 and scouted him extensively in South Korea.

General manager Mike Hazen signed Kelly to a two-year, $5.5 million contract with two options that could be worth another $9.5 million. If Kelly’s career continues along its current path, Kelly will become the most valuable of commodities—an affordable, innings-eating starter in a game built around pitching. Three months into his contract, he already is a plus value.

The Diamondbacks would not be among the handful of contenders for the NL wild card contenders without Kelly.

After losing Patrick Corbin and Clay Buchholz to free agency last winter, Kelly became a natural target when Hazen and the front office saw his velocity tick up and his stuff sharpen with maturity in Korea. Kelly was 48-32 with a 3.86 in 119 games for SK Wyverns.

“The stuff we saw in the Far East … the mix of pitches, strike-throwing ability. I think that (KBO) is a good environment for pitchers because it can play a little offensive over there. It is a good challenge for pitchers who pitch over there,” Hazen said.

Mikolas’ successful return from Japan did not inform Arizona’s decision to sign Kelly, Hazen said. Kelly’s performance did that. At the same time, “if anything else on a greater scale, it has probably opened up eyes of potential opportunities to find talent from all over the world,” Hazen said.

Kelly, 30, has been at his best since being knocked around in San Diego on May 22, when he gave up four runs on five hits and four walks while getting only four outs in a 5-2 loss. He has won four of his last five starts, posting a 2.65 ERA with 32 strikeouts against four walks in 34 1/3 innings.

“For sure he had to build his confidence up and understand that he does belong here,” Arizona pitching coach Mike Butcher said. “It’s natural for anyone who gets the first taste of the big leagues. There was a good discussion on the mound (in San Diego). Probably even a better one after that. It’s like, ‘You have to start believing in yourself.’”

It was a process, Kelly said.

“More than anything, it was a mindset,” he said. “I think part of it was just trying to get accustomed to the new life. The new routine. The new travel. The new teams. The new guys. I’m the type of guy who usually takes me a minute to feel comfortable around new situations in general.

“More than that, even though the results had been pretty good other than a couple of hiccups, I felt like I wasn’t doing what I know that I can. I wasn’t attacking the way I know I can. Mediocre is a bad term, but that’s kind of how I felt. It took me a minute to finally say, ‘Screw it.’ I’m over the inconsistency. I got to a point where I was tired of not being myself.”

A Phoenix area native, Kelly recently has demonstrated why the Diamondbacks aggressively sought to sign him, basically pre-empting other landing spots. The contact negotiations were quick and simple.

The terms were “more than fine,” Kelly said. “The fact that it was multi-year was definitely more than I expected. I could not be more content with what I have. There are a lot of people who would trade spots with me in a heartbeat.

“My journey to get here is much different than a lot of people’s. But if I were to go back and do it again, I would probably do the same thing. Obviously if I knew that I would be sitting here, that’s an easy answer. But even if I didn’t, at the time that I went, it was the best decision for my career.”

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Editor’s note: The Diamondbacks selected Joshua Rojas’ contract on Monday. He will be with the team in Denver on Monday.

LOS ANGELES – As the Diamondbacks’ corner outfield production continues to sputter, one of their newest prospects is making his case in Triple-A Reno to be a possible solution in the majors.

Infielder/outfielder Joshua Rojas, acquired as part of the four-player package from the Houston Astros for Zack Greinke, entered Sunday with ridiculous numbers since the July 31 trade.

In his first eight games with Reno, Rojas was 18 for 35 (.514) with four doubles, one triple and three home runs. He wasn’t doing bad before the trade, either, hitting .315/.403/.575 in 439 plate appearances split between Double-A Corpus Christi and Triple-A Round Rock.

“He has very good, consistent at-bats,” Diamondbacks Assistant General Manager Jared Porter said. “He drives the ball to all fields and gets on base. He sees a lot of pitches. He’s in complete control of the majority, if not all, of his at-bats.”

In Reno, Rojas has bounced between left field, right field, third base and shortstop. He also has experience in his career at second base.

The Diamondbacks could use the help in their outfield. In 39 games since June 23, the Diamondbacks’ corner outfielders entered Sunday with a combined .341 slugging percentage, the lowest mark in baseball.

That stretch coincides with Adam Jones’ struggles (.240/.284/.296 in 134 plate appearances) and a power outage from David Peralta that could be traced to his shoulder injury.

Rojas, who was born in Glendale and attended Millennium High in Goodyear, had solid, if not eye-catching, production during his first two seasons of pro ball. A 26th-round pick out of the University of Hawaii in 2017, he has seemingly made huge strides at the plate this season. The Diamondbacks liked him enough to demand his inclusion in the Greinke package.

“He has a very good plan in place when he goes up there,” Porter said. “He fouls a lot of pitches off. He knows himself very well as a hitter. He knows when to get big, when to stay small. He tends to put a lot of hard contact on the baseball on pitches in the zone.”

Catcher Carson Kelly was in the starting lineup for the 60th time this season on Sunday afternoon. In each of those starts, he has hit seventh, eighth or ninth.

After slamming two homers in Friday night’s 3-2 win, manager Torey Lovullo sounds like he’s getting closer to finally moving Kelly into a run-producing spot in the lineup.

When he was asked about the idea several weeks ago, Lovullo said he didn’t want to move Kelly up in the lineup only to have to move him back down if he were to struggle.

“I’ve been thinking about it; it’s a good point,” Lovullo said. “At that time when I was making those comments, I was saying I don’t want to put too much on his plate. But I think maybe a little bit of a migration is more in my thoughts today than it was last week or last month.”

Kelly entered Sunday with a .268/.354/.553 line that includes 17 doubles and 16 homers in 260 plate appearances. Though his playing time has been somewhat limited, he is having the best offensive season of any Diamondbacks hitter other than Ketel Marte.
Short hops

The Diamondbacks reinstated right-hander Matt Andriese from the injured list and optioned lefty Robby Scott.

Reliever Greg Holland, who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, was released on Sunday, thus making him a free agent.

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As the baseball world awaits where Manny Machado or Bryce Harper might sign, we have been alerted to some other, perhaps much more important, news. Byung-Hyun Kim, the submariner who won a 2001 World Series with the D-backs, is still playing baseball.

I would’ve thought Kim to be about 53 years old by now, but somehow he’s just 39. He pitched nine seasons in the Majors, his last being with the Florida Marlins in 2007, and then spent a few years playing in Japan and Korea.

Of course, it’s hard to see Kim’s name and not immediately think of those few pitches that he threw in the 2001 World Series against the Yankees. The two to Tino Martinez and Derek Jeter that ended in a Game 4 loss for the D-backs.

And this one the very next night to Scott Brosius — resulting in another loss.

BUT, the D-backs did win the ’01 Fall Classic, doing some of their own ninth-inning damage against one of the greatest closers of all time. And otherwise, Kim was phenomenal during Arizona’s postseason run — earning three saves in six scoreless innings of Division and Championship Series play. A little known, but very excellent Kim highlight took place the following season after he got some revenge against the Yankees. Kim saved a game, took the ball and somehow submarined it about 320 feet onto the vaunted Monument Park. Submarined it. Take that, Jeets.

Either way, pretty fitting that a man with Kim’s throwing motion is pitching in the land down under.

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Diamondbacks outfielder David Peralta will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the remainder of the 2019 season, manager Torey Lovullo announced in an appearance on 98.7 FM Arizona Sports today (Twitter link via 98.7’s John Gambadoro). Specifics on the procedure, including a timeline, have yet to come to light.

Peralta, 32, has thrice been placed on the 10-day injured list due to inflammation in his right AC joint this season — the most recent placement coming on Saturday. The ongoing discomfort, it seems, has reached a point where continued rest and rehab won’t suffice.

Shoulder troubles limited Peralta to just 99 games this season and may have contributed to the downturn in offensive performance he experienced this year. While he still turned in an above-average .275/.343/.461 batting line (104 OPS+), that output falls shy of 2018’s robust .293/.353/.516 performance (127 OPS+).

Peralta’s name came up a bit prior to the July 31 trade deadline, but it was never clear that the team was all that focused on moving Peralta, who is controlled through the 2020 season via arbitration. Peralta earned $7MM this year on the heels of that solid showing, and he’ll be eligible for one more raise this winter before qualifying for free agency in the 2020-21 offseason. Any trade involving Peralta this winter would obviously constitute selling low, and the D-backs’ outfield situation is teeming with uncertainty. Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones will be free agents at season’s end, while Steven Souza is recovering from a catastrophic knee injury (torn ACL, torn LCL, partially torn PCL, torn capsule).