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Lamb expected to play more first base in '19

D-backs need to replace Goldy, CF Pollock next season
December 10, 2018

LAS VEGAS -- Since trading franchise icon Paul Goldschmidt last week, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen has fielded calls from his colleagues who believed the team might be at the beginning of a sell-off.Those GMs have come away disappointed as Hazen informed them that was not the case."I think teams

LAS VEGAS -- Since trading franchise icon Paul Goldschmidt last week, D-backs general manager Mike Hazen has fielded calls from his colleagues who believed the team might be at the beginning of a sell-off.
Those GMs have come away disappointed as Hazen informed them that was not the case.
"I think teams have felt like if we're willing to do something like [trade Goldschmidt] that we'd be willing to do a lot of different things," Hazen said. "So I think that's probably been a prevalent reaction. I don't think we'd say never on anything necessarily, but there's certain guys that we're not going to probably end up doing anything with."
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Hazen didn't reveal who those players might be, but multiple reports have the D-backs either asking a lot for, or flat out saying no, to dealing outfielder David Peralta and lefty Robbie Ray, both of whom have two years to go before free agency.
So instead of a fire sale -- and feeling good about his starting rotation after acquiring Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade and signing Merrill Kelly out of South Korea -- Hazen has turned his attention to replacing Goldschmidt and center fielder A.J. Pollock, who is expected to sign a lucrative free-agent deal elsewhere.

If he can get those two spots filled, Hazen likes his team's chances of being competitive in 2019.
To help take Goldschmidt's place, the D-backs plan on playing left-handed-hitting third baseman Jake Lamb at first.
"He's still going to play third base as well," Hazen said. "I think having some flexibility with the entire infield is going to be important, depending on how matchups stack up. We obviously have a few right-handed-hitting first basemen on the roster that provide a natural complement there if we went in that direction."
When Lamb plays first, the team could slide Eduardo Escobar to third.
If the D-backs want to go with a right-handed hitter at first base, Christian Walker and Kevin Cron could be possibilities.
Walker, 27, has seen limited big league time the past two seasons, but he has flashed tremendous power.
Cron, 25, who has not played in the big leagues, had a .921 OPS at Triple-A Reno last year.

More pressing for the D-backs is trying to find a replacement for Pollock in center.
The free-agent crop of center fielders is not particularly strong, and Jarrod Dyson and Socrates Brito are the only players currently on the roster who can play center. Dyson, Hazen said, probably doesn't project to be an everyday player.
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"Center field is still an obvious challenge for us," Hazen said. "Something that we need to address."
If the D-backs can't acquire a center fielder via trade without opening up another hole on the roster in the process, it's not out of the question that second baseman/shortstop Ketel Marte could be tried in center.
"I would think that a trade or Ketel full-time is probably more the avenue I would imagine," Hazen said. "Unless we could find a way to bring A.J. back."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.