The New York Yankees badly need a shortstop, and they sure could use a center fielder given that Aaron Hicks, the starter there, lost most of the 2021 campaign due to wrist surgery. The trade market could have one player who can, theoretically, defend both positions, and is a star offensively: Ketel Marte of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Now, Marte shouldn’t be sold as a shortstop, but instead, as a second baseman/outfielder. He can defend all three positions, but truth be told, his best one is already covered in the Yankees: second base, where Gleyber Torres is supposed to play in 2022.
Marte played the majority of the time in center field this past season, and the results were atrocious. He had a -5.3 UZR/150, -15 DRS, and -5 Outs Above Average (OAA). There wasn’t a single metric that thought he was at least passable out there.
LaMonte Wade Jr.'s hit becomes a homer after bouncing off Ketel Marte's glove pic.twitter.com/QMy8KsvVXw— KNBR (@KNBR) August 12, 2021
At the keystone, he had a -5.4 UZR/150, 0 DRS, and -2 OAA in 2021. The sample, 129.1 innings, wasn’t very large, though, and he had success there in the past. For example, he had 13 DRS at second in 2018, and 2 OAA in 2019.
Can he be an option for the desperate Yankees at shortstop? Not quite, at least not to play every day. He hasn’t played meaningful innings there since 2018, and they weren’t that many (222.1). The results were divisive: -2 DRS but 6 OAA. He did have 7 DRS as a shortstop in 2017, so he has been successful as a defensive shortstop in the past. It’s just that it has been a while, so asking him to be the regular at that position for the Yankees may be a bit much.
The Yankees could deploy Marte at the three positions and use him as a Swiss Army knife. Ideally, the Yankees would need him to play more center field than anything else assuming they bring in a starting shortstop, but they would need his performance to be closer to what he did in 2019 (4 DRS, 10.6 UZR/150, -3 OAA in 687.2 innings) rather than his lousy 2021.
Something like three starts per week at center, two at second, and one at shortstop or designated hitter could be a plan. If the Yankees go with a glove-first, no-bat option like Andrelton Simmons, the split could be more like 2-2-2. It remains to be seen if Marte is open to being used like that, though.
Offensively, he is a well-above average performer. He hit .318/.377/.532 with 14 home runs in 374 plate appearances in 2021, and had a 139 wRC+. For his career, his 112 wRC+ is a bit misleading because it includes several seasons before he broke out in 2019, but is good nonetheless.
It doesn’t seem like acquiring Marte is a pipe dream any longer. He won’t be easy to bring to New York if Arizona decides to go ahead and deal him, but the D-backs may recognize that they aren’t particularly close to contending in the tough NL West, and with each year that passes, Marte loses some trade value. He has been linked to the Miami Marlins recently.
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic recently reported that it would take a “monster package to move Marte,” and that’s because in addition to his offensive prowess and defensive versatility, he is very affordable. He is under team control for the next three seasons: he’ll make $8 million in 2022, and then he has club options for both 2023 and 2024 worth $10 million and $12 million respectively.
MLB Trade Rumors suggested that a package for Marte could look a lot like the one the D-Backs got for Paul Goldschmidt: two MLB-ready young players (pitcher Luke Weaver, catcher Carson Kelly), one good prospect (Andrew Young, who has since made his big league debut) and a Competitive Balance Round draft pick. If they wanted, the Yankees could put something like that together (well, perhaps the prospects wouldn’t be as MLB-ready as those), but will they go the Marte road knowing that the defensive fit may not be ideal? Only time will tell.