Souza, D-backs anticipate seamless transition

February 21st, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Steven Souza Jr. was not expecting to be traded, but when he heard Tuesday that he was headed to the D-backs, he knew he would have no trouble fitting in.

"I was definitely preparing for the role that I'd have [with Tampa Bay]," Souza said. "This may be one of the teams where I know the most guys on the team. I've known Goldy [] for a while now, I grew up with , I came up through the Minor Leagues with Robbie Ray, and I've gotten to know Nick Ahmed a little bit. Great dudes."

While the 28-year-old is in some ways replacing free-agent outfielder J.D. Martinez, who signed a five-year deal with the Red Sox, Souza knows that is not something to focus on.

• D-backs' Spring Training information

After all, even Martinez might not have been able to replicate the .302/.366/.741 he hit for the D-backs in 62 games last year.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"I don't think that anybody has really done those types of things that he did in the second half, so to say that I'm going to come in and try to fill those shoes would be a little bit far-fetched," Souza said. "I'm going to play my game, I'm going to play as hard as I can every single day, and I'm going to help this team win a ballgame."

D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and his staff were not looking strictly at the offensive numbers when it came to Souza.

"We see him very much as a complete player," Hazen said. "He's a good baserunner, he plays really good defensive corner outfield. We feel like he's made a lot of improvements in his game as he's matured into a consistent big leaguer. He certainly fit a specific area [of need] for us."

The D-backs had been talking to the Rays about Souza for well over a month now, and the Yankees were interested in infielder , so eventually it became a three-team deal.

Giving up lefty prospect hurts the D-backs because they believe he will be a Major League pitcher one day soon, and he provided them with starting pitching depth for this year.

Though Souza is the headliner in the deal from Arizona's side of things, right-hander , who was acquired from the Yankees, was an important piece for the D-backs, especially since along with Banda, they are giving the Rays two players to be named by May 1. Replacing those young pieces is important as Arizona tries to build sustainability going forward.

Widener, who will be a non-roster invitee to camp, made 27 starts for Class A Advanced Tampa last year and was 7-8 with a 3.39 ERA. He pitched for Double-A Trenton in the Eastern League playoffs, allowing two runs in six innings over two relief appearances.

"We certainly like [Widener] and have watched and have scouting reports from last year in the Yankees' system," Hazen said. "We think he has a chance to be a starter at the Major League level. He has good stuff. That was a big part of this deal."