Maybe it is just me, but doesn’t it seems as though 75% of Major League teams lack stability in left field? The Arizona Diamondbacks are no exception as outside of Luis Gonzalez, no player has started Opening Day three straight seasons in that position. Who gets the nod in 2014? Your guess is as good as mine.
Jason Kubel: His D’back career started with such promise. Kubel led the team in home runs with 30 and RBI’s with 90 in 2012. However, 2013 wasn’t as kind to the slugger due to a variety of ailments that never completely vanished. It ended up that Kubel was designated for assignment on August 20th, eventually being dealt to the Cleveland Indians in exchange for pitcher Matt Langwell. In 241 at-bats, Kubel hit five homers and drove in 32 runs with a slash line of .220/.288/.324.
Cody Ross: Because of the way Arizona players are moved all over the field, particularly the outfield, it is tough to figure out who got the lion’s share of playing time besides Kubel. That would be Ross, who split his time between left and right. His 2013 also did not end well as he suffered a dislocated hip on August 11th and finished with 8 HR’s and 38 RBI’s. Ross had one of the biggest hits of the year, a three run blast off Matt Harvey on July 3rd that gave the Snakes a 5-3, come-from-behind victory, halting a five game losing streak. He also had a magical night in his return to Boston when he went 4 for 5 with a home run and three RBI’s in a 7-6 D’back win.
Martin Prado: Many times during the season, the versatile Prado would start a game at third base only to be shifted to left during the later innings. He started 25 games out there and had some tremendous games at the position. On August 7th, Prado went 4 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored in a 9-8 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays. His last appearance at the position was on September 28th, going 1 for 4 in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Nationals.
What to expect in 2014: Though Kubel is a free agent, there is no talk of him returning to Phoenix. Ross is sidelined indefinitely with his injury. GM Kevin Towers stated one of his goals is a power-hitting corner outfielder. If the D’backs decide to go with Matt Davidson at third base, it would seem Prado gets the nod in left. If no one is signed and Davidson turns out not to be the answer at third, does A.J. Pollock get the starting job? So many questions remain about baseball’s Rubik’s Cube position.
Beyond 2014: Prado is signed through 2016, Ross through 2015. If the team goes the free agent route this offseason, the odds are he won’t be signed for more than three years. There are no real clear players at the position in the Minor League system. 2012 first round pick Stryker Trahan is a catcher but would seem a logical choice to move to the outfield if his defense behind the plate does not improve.