PHOENIX -- Every year, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and his staff try to plan for every possible contingency when it comes to building a roster. But no amount of foresight could have helped them in 2021 when all five arms that comprised their Opening Day starting rotation missed time on the injury list or the COVID-19 injury list.
The D-backs used a club-record 64 players this season, including 28 rookies, and while that turnover led to a 52-110 record, it also provided plenty of opportunity to get a look at players, some of whom will see expanded roles in 2022 as the team transitions to a younger core.
"We’re going to continue to give a lot of our younger players on the roster a lot of opportunity to come up here and play," Hazen said. "We have very few free agents. We have still a lot of young players, both in the middle part of their career and the younger side of their career, that we still have on our team.
"I really don’t know what the offseason is going to bring in terms of continuing to push the ball forward externally, but internally, we're going to continue to allow the guys that you’ve seen matriculate up and those to come to take some steps forward onto the roster."
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the players who made contributions during the 2021 season, and what '22 might have in store for them:
Carson Kelly (arbitration eligible): The catcher took a step forward in 2021 after finding a physical and mental routine that worked for him. He figures to once again get the bulk of time behind the plate in 2022.
Daulton Varsho (pre-arbitration): Varsho took off in the second half of the season, showing why he was rated as one of the organization's top prospects. He will play plenty in 2022, likely seeing some time behind the plate and the rest in the outfield.
Christian Walker (arbitration eligible): After looking good during Spring Training, Walker never got going offensively. It was a season of frustration for him, and he is a non-tender candidate, something that would have been unthinkable a year ago.
Josh VanMeter (pre-arbitration): VanMeter saw playing time at a host of positions in 2021. His best fit could be as a versatile player off the bench.
Nick Ahmed (signed through 2023): The veteran shortstop did not have a good year at the plate, and while he was still a good shortstop, his defense was not at the level it was when he won a pair of Gold Gloves. Ahmed has two years and $17.5 million remaining on his contract extension, and the D-backs could look to move him this offseason with shortstop prospect Geraldo Perdomo having made his big league debut in 2021.
Ketel Marte (signed through 2022 with club options for '23 and '24): Marte began 2021 in center and finished it at second base, which appears to be the best fit for him going forward. He has a very affordable contract that, with club options, runs through 2024. If the D-backs were to move him this offseason, they'd ask for a big return.
Pavin Smith (pre arbitration): By necessity, Smith was forced to play in the outfield -- including center field at times -- in 2021. Smith is best suited to playing first base, and could get that chance in '22, especially if the team elects not to bring Walker back.
Josh Rojas (pre-arbitration): That Rojas will play in 2022 seems certain, but at what position remains to be determined. He's shown the ability to move around and he can play the outfield corners as well as second, third and short. He could get a look at second if Marte is not playing there or possibly third base. Or he might be the one player the D-backs move from position to position throughout next season.
Geraldo Perdomo (pre-arbitration): A reworked swing helped turn Perdomo's season around, and he looked like a different player when he was called up on Sept 26. If the D-backs feel he's ready to play every day in 2022, it could increase their desire to move Ahmed this winter.
Seth Beer (pre-arbitration): Beer finally got his shot in the big leagues in September, and after impressing in a pair of games as the designated hitter, Beer suffered a season-ending left shoulder injury in his first start at first base. Beer will get a long look next spring, especially if there's a DH in the NL.
David Peralta (signed through 2022): Peralta's production was down in 2021 but he still managed a 96 OPS+ mark. A fan favorite, Peralta has one year and $7.5 million left on his contract. There were rumors at the Trade Deadline that the D-backs had made him available. Whether they do that again in the offseason remains to be seen.
Kole Calhoun (club option for 2022): The team values Calhoun's leadership and all-out style of play. Injuries, though, severely limited him in 2021 and it seems unlikely the D-backs will pick up his $9 million option ($2 million buyout) for 2022.
Jake McCarthy (pre-arbitration): Injuries gave McCarthy an opening in 2021, and he showed that he can be a quality center fielder. Plus, his speed on the bases is a valuable weapon. He has the versatility to play all three outfield positions, so he should compete for a spot during Spring Training.
Merrill Kelly (club option for 2022): Aside from missing a month after contracting COVID-19, Kelly was the one starter the D-backs could consistently rely on to take the ball every fifth day. Kelly has an affordable $5.25 million club option for 2022 that the D-backs will almost certainly exercise.
Madison Bumgarner (signed through 2024): Bumgarner bounced back after a disappointing 2020 to have some really impressive stretches in '21. But he tried to pitch through some injury issues, and that seemed to be when he had his struggles in 2021.
Zac Gallen (pre-arbitration): Gallen had an injury-marred season that prevented him from getting a consistent feel for his pitches. Good health in 2022 should equal a return to his 2019-20 form that had so many excited about him.
Luke Weaver (arbitration eligible): Weaver pitched better in 2021 than he did in '20, but still struggled to regain his form from early '19, when he was a dominant pitcher. How confident the organization is in his ability to get back to some semblance of that will likely determine whether it tenders him a contract in December.
Taylor Widener (pre-arbitration): Injuries limited Widener to 35 appearances (13 starts) in 2021, and it seems like he will have a leg up for a spot on the pitching staff heading into camp in '22. The question that remains is whether the organization views him as a better fit in the rotation or the bullpen, and that could depend on what moves it makes this offseason.
Taylor Clarke (pre-arbitration): At one point in 2021, Clarke was one of the team's most reliable relievers, until an injury in mid-June stalled that momentum. When Clarke returned nearly two months later, he didn't have the same level of success. He should contend for a bullpen spot next spring.
Noé Ramirez (arbitration eligible): A waiver claim from the Angels, Ramirez proved to be a valuable setup man until he missed over three weeks after contracting COVID-19. He is eligible for arbitration, and whether the D-backs feel he will be worth what he will get through that process, or whether they will try and sign him to a deal beforehand, remains to be seen.
Tyler Clippard (mutual option for 2022): The veteran's career seemed like it might be over when he suffered a capsule sprain in his right shoulder during Spring Training, but he returned July 21 and made 26 appearances. His contract option for next year is for $3.5 million ($500,000 buyout) and given the D-backs' youth movement, it would be a surprise if they decided to bring him back.
J.B. Bukauskas (pre-arbitration): Sent to Triple-A Reno after an outstanding Spring Training, Bukauskas made his big league debut on April 20, and had trouble repeating his spring success in 21 regular-season appearances. Primarily a starter throughout his pro career, the D-backs took a look at Bukauskas as a reliever in 2021. Whether that's the case again in 2022 remains to be seen.
Joe Mantiply (pre-arbitration): The 30-year-old left-hander had made 10 big league appearances prior to 2021. Called up by the D-backs on May 15, Mantiply became their most heavily-used reliever, appearing in a team-high 57 games and establishing himself as a frontrunner for a bullpen spot in 2022.
Tyler Gilbert (pre-arbitration): The left-hander, who was selected in last year's Rule 5 Draft, made three relief appearances for the D-backs at the beginning of August. While they were good outings, no one could have expected what happened in his first Major League start on Aug. 14, when Gilbert threw a no-hitter against the Padres. An injury ended his season early, but he should have a chance to win a spot in the rotation or bullpen next spring.
Corbin Martin (pre-arbitration): The right-hander was the key piece in the Zack Greinke trade in 2019, and after recovering from Tommy John surgery, Martin made five appearances (three starts) for the D-backs in 2021. After being optioned to Triple-A Reno, he experienced some elbow issues and was shut down.
J.B. Wendelken (arbitration-eligible): Claimed off waivers from the A's in mid-August, Wendelken became one of Arizona's most reliable relievers and finished the season as the team's closer. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time, and given his performance last year and the D-backs' need for relievers, it would be a surprise if he's not back in 2022.
Humberto Mejía (pre-arbitration): Acquired from the Marlins in the 2020 Starling Marte trade, Mejía made five starts for the D-backs in 2021. Depending on what moves the team makes this offseason, Mejía could provide starting depth next year, or he could be transitioned to the bullpen.
Luis Frías (pre-arbitration): The D-backs are high on Frías, who got his first taste of the big leagues in the season's final weeks. The right-hander pitched at four levels last year, rising from High-A Hillsboro to the Majors. He made three relief appearances for the D-backs, and while they may view him as a future starter, they could also transition him to the big leagues a reliever first.
Humberto Castellanos (pre-arbitration): Claimed off waivers by the D-backs in January, Castellanos appeared in 12 games, all as a starter, at Triple-A Reno while also making 14 appearances (seven starts) for the D-backs. Like Mejía, Castellanos could provide starting depth in 2022, or he could be transitioned to the bullpen.
Matt Peacock (pre-arbitration): The right-hander made his big league debut on April 6. He filled in when the D-backs needed a starter, and when they didn’t, he pitched out of the 'pen. Peacock is another candidate to either start or relieve in 2022.