The Diamondbacks locked up one of their key players yesterday, as Nick Ahmed signed a four-year extension with Arizona. Let’s take a look at what Ahmed has done so far in Arizona, plus whether this was a smart move.
Nick Ahmed Re-Signs With Arizona
A former second-round pick by the Braves in 2010, Ahmed made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Diamondbacks and has been in Arizona ever since. Ahmed’s career numbers at the plate are not tantalizing at all, as he’s a career .236 hitter, and his career OPS is below .700 (.677). However, those numbers aren’t exactly reflective of his immediate past.
Last season, Ahmed set single-season career highs in batting average (.254), home runs (19), runs batted in (82) and OPS (.753). If you compare those numbers to other shortstops in the league, the stats aren’t eye-popping at all. Among qualified shortstops, Ahmed finished 15th in the league in home runs, 18th in wOBA (.315) and 19th in wRC+ (92). As you can see, when Ahmed is compared against the rest of the league, his stats aren’t great but not that bad either.
However, Ahmed’s true value comes not with his bat, but rather with his glove. According to the new Outs Above Average (OAA) value, Ahmed was fourth last season among all infielders, and third among all shortstops with a +16. The only two shortstops last season with a higher OAA were Javier Baez of the Cubs, and Andrelton Simmons of the Angels. Ahmed also has been a big winner at award season thanks to his glove, as he’s a two-time Gold Glove recipient (2018, 2019). Even though defense has become somewhat forgotten in this day of age, Ahmed’s ability to make plays at short shouldn’t be overlooked whatsoever.
Was This the Right Move for the D-Backs?
With the move to sign Madison Bumgarner, as well as the trade to bring in Starling Marte a couple of weeks ago, the Diamondbacks are making a big push to be a player in the National League for the next few seasons. Because of that, it makes sense to keep Ahmed around. The 29-year old’s glove is irreplaceable, and Ahmed can add provide some pop at the plate. Ahmed may not be a true power hitter, as reflective by his exit velocity numbers (25th percentile last season according to Baseball Savant), as well as the fact that he does top out on balls quite frequently. However, the 29-year old has hit career highs in each of the past two seasons in both the home run and extra base hit categories. Plus, the four-year, $32.5M deal (which could go up based on incentives) is pretty team-friendly as well.
In addition to the D-Backs push to make it back to the postseason, Arizona doesn’t have a true stud in the Minors that is on the doorstep to replace Ahmed. The Diamondbacks did have toolsy but strikeout-prone shortstop Jazz Chisholm in their system, but Arizona traded him back in July for left-handed starter Zac Gallen. And as for their current prospects, two potential future shortstops, Blaze Alexander and Geraldo Perdomo, are still at least two seasons away.
So considering all of those factors, it certainly does make a lot of sense as to why the Diamondbacks wanted to keep Ahmed around for the next four seasons.
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