Ketel Marte Signs Extension with Diamondbacks
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., Mar. 29 — Ketel Marte, the cornerstone of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will be in Sedona Red for the long term.
Tuesday morning the team announced that Marte has signed a five-year extension through 2027 (starting in 2023) with a team option for 2028. According to a source, it is worth a total of $76 million, although the club has not confirmed the value.
“I am very excited today to announce the extension of Ketel Marte for the next five years with us,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “(It is a five-year) extension plus this year. We are very fortunate to have Ketel be with us for the foreseeable future. I think it’s not lost on everybody that he’s our best player. We have talked about what we need to do to win and turn back around where we are today. You do that with elite players, and Ketel is certainly an elite player. We are very fortunate, given the player and the person he is, that he’s going to be a Diamondback. The fans will get to enjoy continuing to watch him play. I know they have already, and we’re even more excited about what the future is going to bring.”
Ketel Marte expressed his gratitude after Hazen spoke. “First of all, I’m super happy and thankful to the organization for allowing me to stay here,” Marte said through interpreter Alex Arpiza. “I’m also very thankful for my family that’s always supporting me. And I’m just happy to be able to be here for the long term with the Diamondbacks.”
What Ketel Marte Brings to the Diamondbacks
Ketel Marte has blossomed since joining the Diamondbacks. He slashed .260/.345/.395 (58-for-223) in his first season, one in which he played only 73 games. This resulted in a .319 wOBA and a near-average -0.4 wRAA. However, 2018 showed the promise that the Diamondbacks scouts saw before convincing Hazen to trade for Marte. Although his batting average remained the same and his OBP dropped, his slugging percentage went up. Marte slashed .260/.332/.437 (135-for-520) with 26 doubles, a league-leading 12 triples, 14 home runs, 59 RBI (from the two-, six-, or seven-hole), and 68 runs scored.
The following season, 2019, was Marte’s breakout season. He slashed .329/.389/.592 (187-for-569) with 36 doubles, nine triples, 32 home runs, 92 RBI, and 97 runs scored. This was good for a .405 wOBA and 46.0 wRAA. He also missed the NL batting title by one hit.
Marte struggled with injuries in 2020 and 2021, but he has still been one of the league’s elite players from 2019 to the present. Over that span, he has slashed .318/.374/.543 (347-for-1090) with 79 doubles, 11 triples, 48 home runs, 159 RBI, 91 walks vs. 167 strikeouts, and 168 runs scored. This has given him a .384 wOBA and 67.1 wRAA.
Marte was the starting second baseman for the National League at the 2019 All-Star Game. He has shifted between second base and center field ever since, making 91 appearances as the former and 121 as the latter. Both Hazen and manager Torey Lovullo have confirmed on prior dates that Marte will be a second baseman this season. Lovullo added that Marte could play shortstop occasionally to give Nick Ahmed a day off.
That, however, was before the recent news of Ahmed’s shoulder injury and the recent acquisition of Sergio Alcántara. Marte has said time and time again that he will play wherever the team needs him, but Hazen reiterated at the press conference that Ketel will play second base and be a backup at shortstop.
Why the Time Was Right to Extend
Hazen explained why now, on the heels of a team-record 110-loss season, was the time to lock up Ketel Marte in a long-term deal. “As we’ve continued to talk about what it’s going to take for us to continue to take steps forward, we want to continue to do that with our best player here. As everybody would know, we did have that from a contractual standpoint. But as you move closer to that endpoint, as you continue to move down the road, and Ketel continues to be an elite player in this league, it creates more uncertainty of what might happen down the road. At some point, as we build towards winning and pushing to win, and with the young players that are kind of that will be coming up with Ketel, we need to anchor around guys.”
“I have made some trades where we’ve moved some of our better players out of here,” Hazen continued in reflection. “It’s not necessarily (something) I look back on and celebrate. We’ve had those conversations at the time. We need to make some commitments here, both for the guys who are in this clubhouse now and the guys who are going to be (arriving) in the next couple of years.
So we felt like this was the right time. There was always going to be a balance for the right time to have these conversations. There’s not a perfect science to it. There is a trust that we have with Ketel and his talent and who he is and what he can be for our team. And that’s really what the impetus was behind this.”
What They See in Each Other
Marte was one of the first players Hazen acquired. Hazen became the Diamondbacks general manager on October 16, 2016. On November 23 of the same year, the Diamondbacks sent Zac Curtis, Mitch Haniger, and Jean Segura to the Seattle Mariners for Marte and now-departed pitcher Taijuan Walker. Hazen recalled, “I remember at the time when we saw (Marte) play, we had people in the organization pushing hard. (Walker) was obviously established, and Ketel was becoming established at the major league level, both young players in the league.
“But (Marte) was a critically important piece to that trade for a lot of our scouts. This was a guy who was growing and developing, coming into his own. (He) had an elite ability to play shortstop athletically and hit from both sides of the plate. Everyone felt the power was going to emerge with time and reps.” Although Marte has since moved to second, Hazen said “all those things have been proven accurate through a lot of hard work from Ketel.”
What made Marte want to sign the extension with the Diamondbacks was “teammates, staff, (and) management.” He said, through Arpiza, “I honestly have not had anyone like Torey that’s had confidence in me, and I really hope I can retire here.”
Don’t Need Fewer Players like Ketel Marte, but Need More
What this does for the Diamondbacks is establish a seemingly untouchable centerpiece. After the third season of the deal, Marte will gain 10/5 rights. These rights are a result of the Curt Flood dispute in 1970, and they came up at the 2021 trade deadline with Max Scherzer. Any player with ten years of service time and five or more consecutive years with his current team can only be traded in a deal he approves, and with how much Marte loves being in Arizona, it is likely that he will choose to stay. Speculation will arise every deadline during the Diamondbacks’ rebuild, but if Hazen were to trade Marte, it would have happened in 2021 when contenders were offering a King’s Ransom for Marte’s services.
Marte said about the trust the team has in him, “This is a special moment for me. The organization knows what they have in me. It’s something that I’ll take with me, even after I retire — that confidence they have in me.”
“A Step in Building around…Extreme Strengths”
Hazen acknowledged that this is the start of an investment in the ballclub, and the team will build on this over the next three or four years. He also acknowledged, when asked, that fans should look forward to what will happen with the roster. “This is a step in us,” he said, “building around areas of our team that we feel are extreme strengths. Areas of, building into the community, our fan trust. Building that back into what we’re putting out on the field every day. Players that fans can get behind and celebrate as we begin to win. That’s really the overarching implications here. Somebody said to me in the offseason, as we talked through our roster, something that stuck with me. ‘We don’t need fewer (players like) Ketel Marte, we need more (players like) Ketel Marte.’ And I believe that.”