SCOTTSDALE — The Arizona Diamondbacks couldn’t hang on to free-agent slugger J.D. Martinez, but moves to acquire Steven Souza Jr. and Jarrod Dyson have left them with a roster logjam as the Cactus League season gets underway.
The outfield transformation definitely makes them better than they were in the wake of Martinez’s signing with Red Sox. Nobody can replace what Martinez did in his 60-games-as-a-superstar stint in the desert. But Souza did hit 30 homers and steal 16 bases in 2017, and will offer right-handed, middle-of-the-lineup protection for Paul Goldschmidt.
Dyson brings speed and a quality, proven option if A.J. Pollock’s injury history continues — as opposed to last season’s move of infielder Chris Owings to center field. Looking ahead, he also offers some form of insurance should Pollock leave after the season as a free agent.
But those additions do raise a question about the roster: what to do with Yasmany Tomas?
At this point, it appears as if he’s a $13.5 million weak-side platoon player in left field with David Peralta. That is Tomas’ salary for 2018, and he still has player options (in other words, sure to be exercised) at $15.5 million in 2019 and $17.5 million for 2020.
Tomas has had two mediocre, injury-interrupted seasons (2015, 2017), but he did put up 31 homers, 83 RBIs and a .508 slugging percentage in 2016. He also is only 27 years old, so he does have some value in the right situation.
His defensive liabilities make him a better fit in the American League, and there are a handful of teams in need of a DH/OF/right-handed bat — including the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox, Kansas City Royals and Cleveland Indians.
But the remaining money on his deal makes him all but untradeable unless the D-backs want to take a huge financial hit by absorbing salary. If Tomas stays put, the decision on bench spots will shift to the infield.
Indications are that a third catcher will make the roster along with Alex Avila and Jeff Mathis. The choice is between Chris Hermann — the veteran incumbent left-handed hitter who also can play first base and a corner-outfield spot — and John Ryan Murphy, the better defender who is out of options.
With three catchers and five outfielders, there would be only three roster spots among the middle-infield group of Nick Ahmed, Ketel Marte, David Descalso and Owings. An injury usually makes these decisions easier, but the D-backs have set themselves up nicely in terms of depth and/or trade-value options.
Now they just need to make the right call in how best to utilize that depth.