Posted on December 24, 2019, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Arizona Diamondbacks made a big splash earlier this month by signing starter Madison Bumgarner. They are now hoping to do the same with their lineup. On Tuesday, the D’Backs reached an agreement with outfielder Kole Calhoun. The two sides have made a two-year pact worth $16 million. The deal also has a $9 million or $2 million buyout for the 2022 season.
Calhoun was arguably one of the most overlooked outfielders on the open market this winter. He only became a free agent when the Angels declined his $10 million option for next season. That move was more about the Angels hoping to save money than it was disappointment in Calhoun’s productivity. While the Halos decided to spend their money signing Anthony Rendon to a long-term deal, the Diamondbacks were free to sign Calhoun as a nice value pick-up.
The 32-year-old Calhoun has been the primary right fielder for the Angels for the past six seasons. He’s quietly been a solid and steady offensive player, owning a career batting average of .249 with an OPS of .747. While the left-hand-hitting Calhoun is better against right-handed pitching, he’s performed well enough against lefties to play every day without needing a platoon partner. He’s also hit a career-high 33 home runs in 2019, indicating he has plenty left in the tank. Defensively, Calhoun is one of the better right fielders in baseball, often showing off his strong arm. He also took home a Gold Glove award in 2015.
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In Arizona, Calhoun should fit right in as the team’s new right fielder. He will essentially replace Adam Jones, who was Arizona’s primary right fielder in 2019 before signing with a team in Japan earlier this winter. Calhoun should provide a meaningful upgrade over Jones in most areas, especially in the power department. While Calhoun’s average has dipped the past two seasons, his power and defense should help make up for it.
The Diamondbacks figure to have a trio of everyday outfielders in 2020. Ketel Marte, who’s fresh off a career year in 2019, figures to be the everyday center fielder, although second base is still an option depending on how Arizona fills that position. Meanwhile, left fielder David Peralta continues to be one of the team’s most important hitters despite an injury-plagued 2019 season. Of course, outfield depth is still an issue with only Tim Locastro and utility man Josh Rojas set to serve as backups with neither being a proven big league commodity.
While Calhoun wasn’t among the top outfielders available on the open market this year, he’s a nice signing by the Diamondbacks. He represents a clear upgrade both offensively and defensively in right field and should add quality depth to Arizona’s lineup. He might not move the needle as much as some other players, but for a team that already spent big on Bumgarner, there is great value in adding Calhoun. Keep in mind that Arizona finished eight games over .500 and four games out of a Wild Card spot in 2019. Adding Calhoun should help the Diamondbacks be a part of the playoff race again in 2020.