The Diamondbacks made their latest big addition Monday in what’s quietly been an impressive offseason for them, acquiring veteran center fielder Starling Marté from the Pirates (along with cash considerations) in exchange for infield prospect Liover Peguero, right-handed pitching prospect Brennan Malone, and international bonus pool space. The two teams announced the deal Monday afternoon:
OFFICIAL: We have acquired infielder Liover Peguero and right-handed pitcher Brennan Malone from the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for outfielder Starling Marte and cash considerations. pic.twitter.com/AtF4ffgYL3— Pirates (@Pirates) January 27, 2020
The 31-year-old Marté is entering the first of two club option years after completing the six guaranteed years on the deal he signed prior to the 2014 season. He’s set to make $11.5 million in 2020, and if the Diamondbacks pick up his option for 2021 he’ll make $12.5 million. He’s owed $1 million if Arizona declines the option.
Marté, a two-time Gold Glover, is no longer an elite fielder, having posted -10 defensive runs saved in center field in 2019. Nevertheless, he’ll slot in as the team’s everyday center fielder in between David Peralta and fellow new addition Kole Calhoun, with All-Star and MVP candidate Ketel Marte shifting back to second base after playing 96 games (89 starts) in center in 2019. With that said, Starling Marté had one of the best offensive seasons of his career last year, hitting .295/.342/.503 with 23 homers, 82 RBI, and 25 steals, and now that he gets to play his home games at Chase Field, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see him build on those numbers.
Marté joins Madison Bumgarner, Junior Guerra, Stephen Vogt, and Calhoun as notable veteran additions to the Diamondbacks’ roster this offseason. While the Padres’ young roster (which has also seen its fair share of veteran additions) won’t be easy to contend with, the Diamondbacks have vastly increased their odds of finishing second in the NL West in 2020 — and who knows, if the Dodgers’ decision to make no additions to their position-player group comes back to bite them and their run of dominance finally comes to an end, perhaps the D-Backs will have a chance to push for the division title.
Peguero was ranked as the No. 7 prospect in the Pirates’ system in MLB Pipeline’s most recent rankings, while Malone slotted in in the eighth spot. Both prospects are 19 years old and a ways away from potentially making an impact in the major leagues; Peguero, a 2017 international signee out of the Dominican Republic, posted a .326/.382/.485 slash line with five homers and 11 steals over 60 games between Advanced Rookie Missoula and Short-Season Class A Hillsboro in 2019, while Malone, the No. 33 overall pick in the 2019 draft, threw for a 4.50 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP over seven games (eight innings) between the AZL Diamondbacks and Hillsboro.
The move represents yet another step back for the Pirates, who appear to be on their way to losing 100 or more games this year. Pittsbugh has a very intriguing young position-player core headlined by Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, and Brian Reynolds, but they’ve done so little to build around those players that they should probably consider trading those players for prospects and building a more imposing core that can come up all at once and win for a while, much like the Royals’ and Cubs’ young cores did during the last decade. Of course, the Pirates are going to be behind the eight-ball as long as they refuse to spend money on free agents and major trade acquisitions, and with an projected Opening Day payroll of $48 million according to Spotrac, it’s pretty clear that they’re not doing that right now.