Manager Torey Lovullo suggested Wednesday another position that will be open to competition in Diamondbacks’ camp this spring: a corner outfield spot.
With A.J. Pollock entrenched in center and David Peralta holding down one of the corners, that means Yasmany Tomas isn’t assured of a job.
“I think a corner outfield spot is available, and how we fill that and who starts and who plays is going to be up for grabs,” Lovullo said.
Of course, that position could be filled between now and Opening Day. The Diamondbacks are still holding out hope slugger J.D. Martinez signs back and, failing that, they seem likely to land another outfielder, either via trade or free agency.
But the fact that Tomas isn’t entering camp assured of a job is interesting given that, when healthy, he’s received everyday at-bats in each of his three big-league seasons, not to mention that he’s still under contract for another three years and about $46 million.
That said, it’s not exactly a surprise the Diamondbacks aren’t just handing him the job. Tomas has yet to be a positive contributor in Wins Above Replacement in any of his three seasons, including in 2016, when he hit .272 with 31 homers. His poor defense and subpar baserunning more than wipe out his contributions at the plate.
At the moment, there’s no proven replacement on the roster, unless the club wants to use the versatile Chris Owings more heavily in the outfield.
Lovullo didn’t want to comment on Tomas specifically. Tomas isn’t in camp yet – position players report to Salt River Fields on Sunday – and Lovullo said he wanted to speak with him before making public comments.
“As soon as the position players get in, I’ll get into that,” Lovullo said.
The Diamondbacks have competition in their middle infield as well as at the closer’s position.
Peralta opened last season logging most of his at-bats in right field but shifted to left when Martinez was acquired in July. Lovullo didn’t commit to anything, but he intimated he’d prefer Peralta remain in left field this year.
“We’re still laying down some of that framework as far as who’s going to be in left and who’s going to be in right,” Lovullo said. “The analytics say he graded out much higher as a left fielder. My eyes told me the same story. My eyes told me he was a very good left fielder. Not to say anything about his (play in) right field, but we’re going to try to put guys in the best position to have success.”
Peralta had a positive Ultimate Zone Rating, according to FanGraphs, in left field last season but was roughly a neutral defender in right field.
Reliever Archie Bradley didn’t want to make too much of the implementation of a humidor at Chase Field, but he didn’t entirely downplay its possible effect.
“You’ve got to make pitches, man,” Bradley said. “I don’t think it matters to me. You’ve got to throw the ball where they can’t hit it.”
Pitchers say it can be hard to grip and command a dry baseball, which they say can feel slick. Does Bradley think it could change what pitches he or others throw?
“I definitely think there’s advantages to it, but I don’t want to buy too much into it,” he said. “You’ve got to throw the ball. But I do think you will see guys have a lot more command and be able to control pitches a lot better with that little extra grip you get.”
Reach Piecoro at (602) 444-8680 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @nickpiecoro.