The World Series isn’t over, but the house-cleaning begins
The Diamondbacks traded for Hernandez at the start of the season, sending teenage outfielder Jeferson Espinal to the Rangers in exchange for the utility infielder. Hernandez had appeared in 43 games for Texas in 2021, but hadn’t hit much, with an OPS+ of 60. That, however, looked like Babe Ruth beside Hernandez’s performance this year. He replaced Drew Ellis in mid-April for 10 days, before Nick Ahmed came off the DL, and then got another three games in mid-May. He went 2-for-24 with no extra-base hits. The resulting OPS+ was -29. Yes: minus twenty-nine. Assuming this is the end of his time here, he’ll be the only position player with a negative OPS+ as a D-back and 25+ PA. Hand Snake Plumbing
Easy come, easy go for Hager, who was selected in the same way, i.e. off waivers, from the Seattle Mariners in late July last year. He had a couple of stints on the team this season, and actually hit reasonably well, posting a line of .240/.345/.280 for a .625 OPS (OPS+ 82), and starting games at second-base, shortstop and third. Perhaps just as valuable was his ability to take the mound as a mop-up guy. He did so three times in less than a month, finishing off a trio of games we lost by a total score of 39-10. He allowed two runs over 2.1 innings, though he’ll always have the strikeout of Gavin Lux (above) on his record, even if it was on a pitch just a bit inside...
Middleton was one of the more experienced players, this being his sixth season in the majors. He’d have been arbitration eligible, with MLB Trade Rumors projecting a salary next year of $1.1 million, so this saves some money. He appeared in 18 games for the D-backs, posting a 5.29 ERA with a K:BB ratio of 15:3 over 17 innings of work. However, his FIP was higher at 5.88, though he did put up good numbers in his time with Reno: a 2.12 ERA over the same 17 IP. He missed time with a variety of injuries this year: elbow inflammation, and ankle sprain, and finally a sprained big toe(!). He’s never really been the same since having TJ surgery in 2018. However, he and Hager could still re-sign with Arizona, if they want.
The main purpose of these moves is to begin clearing roster space. Partly, it’s so prospects can be added in advance of the Rule 5 draft, to be held during the Winter Meetings. There was no Rule 5 draft this season, due to the lockout, so it will be interesting to see what happens this time round. However, further moves will be needed. For while the D-backs currently have 39 players on the 40-man roster, there are four more on the 60-day injured list (Nick Ahmed, Humberto Castellanos, Tyler Gilbert and Emmanuel Rivera). These 60-day IL guys don’t count against the 40-man roster during the season. but that IL goes away at the end of the playoffs, and space must be cleared for them.
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