Gerardo Parra won his second Gold Glove in 2013. Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
We all know the Arizona Diamondbacks like to have versatility on the roster, that is several guys who can play multiple positions. In 2013, there weren’t many positions, either through injury or sheer numbers that had one guy stay in that one spot for most of the year. First base was an exception with Paul Goldschmidt playing all but six games there. Right field was another one with the guy holding down the fort there finally got a chance to be an every day player.
Gerardo Parra: After never having more than 455 at-bats in a season, Parra finally hit the big-time by getting 601 at-bats in 156 games. He started 33 games in center but he clearly established himself as the every day guy in right field, playing in 123 games there. His numbers aren’t what you would expect from a traditional corner outfielder. Parra hit ten home runs and drove in 48 with a line of .268/.323/.403. However, he won his second Gold Glove and tied for the Major League lead in assists with 17. You don’t need to have power in right field if you can get it from somewhere else. The D’backs have that now with Goldy at first and a healthy Aaron Hill at second. plus, GM Kevin Towers has indicated he would like another power bat either at third or in an outfield corner. While that may not mean a move from right for Parra, it would be a mistake to take him away from there as his cannon of an arm is a weapon.
Cody Ross: When Parra was in another spot or when he was given a rare day off, veteran Ross was the guy in right. He had a disappointing first season in Arizona which was unfortunately cut short due to the hip injury he suffered on August 11th. Ross played 44 games in right during the 2013 season and his overall numbers were down by his standards. He hit eight homers with 38 RBI’s and a line of .278/.331/.413. There is no definitive word as to when Ross will be able to re-join the team but early indications are that he could miss at least the first month.
What to expect in 2014: Parra, Parra and more Parra. It is possible that the two-time Gold Glove winner will play more than 123 games in right during the 2014 season. Ross is on the shelf while Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock are more cut out for center and left. If Towers does not acquire a bat for the outfield, Martin Prado could fill the void in left. Assuming Ross comes back at 100% expect him to split time in left and right, just like last season.
Beyond 2014: There is a large number of Diamondback fans who want Parra locked into a long term deal. I would fall into that category. Defense can not be overlooked when factoring into a decision about an outfielder and there are few better than Parra. Plus, while he does not have great power numbers, he does not embarrass himself with the bat. Last season was his first shot an every day role. He responded with a career high in home runs. Parra is under club control through the 2016 season. Many fans feel that the team is not sold on him, therefore no contract talks have been eminent. I disagree. There are some big contracts scheduled to come off the books at the end of the next two seasons, including Ross’s. They could even wait until he gets to his walk year before giving him a deal. Who is to say Parra himself is the one not wanting to talk contract? My prediction: he will have a contract extension by this time next year.