Locking in a cornerstone: D-backs to build around Marte

March 29th, 2022

MESA, Ariz. -- The D-backs on Tuesday finalized their agreement on a five-year contract extension with second baseman , but there is something bigger than the deal announced -- Marte is the cornerstone around whom the D-backs are going to build.

Under general manager Mike Hazen, the D-backs have traded away first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and right-hander Zack Greinke, but the Marte signing, Hazen said, puts an end to that.

"We need to anchor around guys," Hazen said. "I have made some trades where we've moved some of our better players out of here. It's not necessarily things that I look back on and celebrate. We need to make some commitments here, both for the guys that are in this clubhouse now and the guys that are going to be coming into this clubhouse in the next couple of years. And so we felt like this was the right time."

With one of the better farm systems in the Majors, the D-backs have seen outfielder/catcher Daulton Varsho, first baseman/outfielder Pavin Smith and infielder Josh Rojas make contributions in the past couple of seasons.

More, they hope, is on the way in the form of outfielders Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll, shortstop Geraldo Perdomo and a host of young arms who spent most of 2021 in Double-A Amarillo.

Marte will be the foundation upon which those pieces are stacked.

The D-backs didn't have to sign Marte to an extension yet. The 28-year-old was under contract this year, with Arizona holding team options for $11 million and $13 million for 2023 and '24.

The new deal guarantees those two option years and gives Marte a $3 million signing bonus.

The extension includes salaries of $16 million in 2025 and '26 and $14 million in '27, with the team holding a '28 option of $13 million with a $3 million buyout.

There are escalators built into the deal based on plate appearances and where Marte finishes in the Most Valuable Player Award voting.

The two sides began having some informal discussions about a deal just prior to the lockout but then had to discontinue them until a Collective Bargaining Agreement was reached.

"There's always going to be a balance -- when is the right time to have these conversations, there’s no perfect science to it," Hazen said. "There is a trust that we have with Ketel and his talent and who he is and what he can be for our team. That’s really what the impetus was behind this."

Marte was one of the first players Hazen acquired after being hired following the 2016 season. Marte came over from the Mariners along with Taijuan Walker in exchange for Jean Segura, Mitch Haniger and Zac Curtis.

Marte's best season came in 2019, when the D-backs asked him to play center field for the first time in his big league career. He responded by hitting .329/.389/.592 and finishing fourth in the NL Most Valuable Player Award voting.

Last year, Marte played in just 90 games after experiencing injuries to both of his hamstrings at different times, and the D-backs decided that, to better preserve his health, they would limit him to just second base.

Even with the injury issues last year, Marte managed to hit .318/.377/.532 with 14 homers.

"Super happy," Marte said. "Very thankful to my family for supporting me. I’m thankful to be able to stay here long term with the Diamondbacks. The fact that Mike thinks so highly of me is because I’ve earned that with the way I’ve come to work, the way I am with my teammates. Now if I can continue to earn Mike’s trust and be able to get to the playoffs eventually, and continue to work hard."