Diamondbacks should start–not trade– Nick Ahmed
A Boston Globe report earlier this week said that the Cardinals are targeting Diamondbacks shortstop Nick Ahmed to replace the injured Jhonny Peralta. Ken Rosenthal reported that someone familiar with the Diamondbacks would rather trade Ahmed than Chris Owings.
This is not a move the Diamondbacks should be considering. Unless you could get an unusually grandiose return from a trade, Nick Ahmed should be the Diamondbacks’ starting shortstop.
Ahmed isn’t great offensively, but he is arguably the best defensive shortstop in the National League now that Andrelton Simmons is gone. Ahmed led National League shortstops with a 4.82 range factor, was third in the majors with 20 defensive runs saved and his UZR of 11.3 was also third-best in the majors. He can really help keep runs off the board– boding well for the Diamondbacks’ revamped rotation.
This defensive output makes him one of the most undervalued overall players in the game. In Ahmed’s first full season last year, he posted a bWAR of 2.5. This is a higher bWAR than Yoenis Cespedes had last season. Defensive metrics may not be as exciting as home runs or runs batted in, but they are critical nonetheless.
At the same time, Chris Owings has been much worse across the board. Owings batted .227/.264/.322, Ahmed batted .225/.275/.359. Defensively, Ahmed is miles ahead of Owings, who had a UZR of -6.8 at second base last season. Owings has potential as a high first-round selection, but the Diamondbacks are clearly hell bent on winning now. Ahmed gives you a chance to do that.
Shortstops of Ahemed’s defensive caliber do not come by too often. Ahmed can help maximize the Diamondbacks’ pitching potential while possibly improved at the plate. The Diamondbacks should be starting Ahmed, not trading him.