Starling Marte was one of the more sought-after outfielders available on the market this offseason. But the outfielder is off the board now, as the Diamondbacks made the move to acquire the former All-Star. Let’s take a look at the trade, as well as the effect Marte may have on the D-Backs.
Starling Marte Traded to Arizona
The Pirates traded Marte, who was a pivotal player for the Bucs during their playoff runs from 2013-2015, to the Diamondbacks for two prospects. One of those prospects was Brennan Malone, a first round pick by the D-Backs this past June. Malone, who’s received plus grades for his fastball-slider combo, is an athletic 6’4” right-hander, and was the 33rd pick in the 2019 Draft. The North Carolina native didn’t pitch much during his first pro season, but he did strike out eight batters across eight innings.
The other prospect was Liover Peguero, a 19-year old shortstop out of the Dominican Republic. Signed in 2017 for $475,000, Peguero batted a combined .326 across two levels (R and SS-A) last season, hitting five home runs (all with Missoula) and drove in 38 runs. MLB Pipeline describes Peguero as an up-and-coming prospect who’s shown an “advanced hitting ability and a mature approach while holding his own defensively at shortstop.”
Both Peguero and Malone are high-ceiling talents, but considering the D-Backs have a deep farm system, Arizona could afford to give up the necessary talent needed to acquire Marte.
Starling Marte in 2019
Marte hit 23 home runs last season, a career high, and recorded a slash line of .295/.342/.503. The 31-year old also stole 25 bases, giving Marte his second consecutive 20-20 season. It was a strong all-around season for Marte, and one where he finished in the top 30 among qualified outfielders in both wRC+ (119-25th) and wOBA (.353-26th). However, one interesting note on Starling Marte was his lower-than-average walk rate. Last season, Marte had a walk rate of 4.3%, which was the fourth-lowest walk rate in MLB among qualified outfielders. But considering that the Dominican native consistently makes contact, as well as finishing in the top 10 in the National League in HBP (16), Marte finished in the top 30 among outfielders in on-base percentage in 2019.
But with Marte now switching teams for the first time in his MLB career, what should we expect from him in 2020?
What to Expect from Marte in 2020?
For one, Marte will most certainly become the D-Backs everyday center fielder. While some (including myself) were initially excited at the thought of seeing both Ketel Marte and Startling Marte in the same outfield, it’s important to note that Ketel is an infielder by trade. With Starling Marte now a Diamondback, Ketel Marte will now move back to second, but GM Mike Hazen did say after the trade that he still anticipates that he will see some time at center in 2020, albeit in a limited role.
As for Starling Marte’s offensive production, it’s fair to expect him to produce another 20-20 season considering his past performances. Marte joins a talented lineup that already includes several players that can hit for power and drive in runs, including Ketel Marte, Nick Ahmed, and Eduardo Escobar. And considering Marte has been quite good at getting on base despite not drawing many walks, he would fit in quite nicely at the top of the D-Backs’ lineup.
It’s been quite the turnaround for the Diamondbacks over the past 12 months. After trading away franchise cornerstone Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals, it seemed that the D-Backs were going to go into a rebuilding phase. But, after the breakout performances of Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar last season, as well as the acquisitions of Zac Gallen, Madison Bumgarner and now Starling Marte, the D-Backs are in a position to compete for a playoff spot in 2020.
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