Nick Ahmed, Arizona Diamondbacks Agree to a Four-Year Contract
Gold Glove shortstop Nick Ahmed and the Arizona Diamondbacks have agreed to a four-year, $32.5 million contract, the team announced Monday afternoon. The deal means that the ballclub and the fifth-year player will avoid arbitration. The hearing would have happened on Wednesday.
Nick Ahmed provided consistently strong defense in 2019, making highlight-reel plays as well as the routine ones. He won his second consecutive Rawlings Gold Glove award in 2019, a first for a Diamondbacks shortstop. Ahmed also won a 2019 Fielding Bible Award. In addition, Baseball America named him the best defensive shortstop in the National League.
In 2019, Ahmed posted 18 defensive runs saved (DRS). This was tops in the majors among shortstops and eighth in the majors regardless of position. He also posted a career-high wOBA of .315, becoming one of only 13 shortstops since DRS became a statistic in 2003 to post a wOBA of .315 or more and a DRS of 15+. The others are Jimmy Rollins (2005, 2008), Rafael Furcal (2005), Troy Tulowitzki (2007, 2010), Alex Gonzalez (2010), Alexei Ramirez (2010), Jhonny Peralta (2014), Brandon Crawford (2015-16), Addison Russell (2016), Francisco Lindor (2016), Andrelton Simmons (2017-18), Javier Baez (2019), and Trevor Story (2019).
Since 2015, he has saved 74 defensive runs. That is the second-highest total among major league shortstops over that period, behind Simmons (110). It is also fourth overall, regardless of position, behind Kevin Kiermaier (116), Simmons, and Mookie Betts (99).
Over his career, Ahmed has batted .236/.289/.387 with 102 doubles, 19 triples, 55 home runs, 231 RBI, 149 walks, and a .289 wOBA in 613 games. His best offensive season came in 2019. He batted .254 (141 for 556)/.316/.437 with 33 doubles, six triples, 19 homers, 82 RBI, 52 walks, and a .315 wOBA in 158 games. The totals of games, average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, homers, RBI, and wOBA were all career highs. His doubles and triples matched career highs that he set in 2018 and 2015, respectively. The 81 RBI set a Diamondbacks record for most RBI by a shortstop.
His offense has continually developed. General manager Mike Hazen told reporters in a conference call that “his offense gets overshadowed because he’s so good defensively, but we’ve seen positive growth from him over the last few years.” He attributes it to commitment and his desire to work with the team’s coaching staff. Hazen likes what it means for the future, saying it’s something that the team will continually benefit from.
The Leadership of Nick Ahmed
Hazen raved about Ahmed’s leadership, noting that he has grown as a leader in the clubhouse over the last few years and saying that it starts with his preparation. “I don’t think there’s anybody more dedicated to getting the most out of their ability than Nick is.” Hazen also stated that Ahmed’s teammates notice his leadership by the example he gives, stating that it’s more effective than hearing it from coaches and management.
Why Nick Ahmed Signed the Extension
Hazen said that the team looked at the position from a standpoint of stability. If Ahmed were to leave after 2020 via free agency and Ketel Marte had replaced him, it would have meant two years since Marte had last played shortstop. Replacing Ahmed with minor league talent would not have been viable since they will not be ready for the majors for a few more years. Plus, in the words of Hazen, “he’s the best defensive shortstop in baseball.”
Ahmed said that there were several factors that convinced him to sign the extension. One huge factor was all the off-season roster moves. They added starting pitcher and 2014 World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, center fielder Starling Marte, right fielder Kole Calhoun, catcher Stephen Vogt, and relievers Junior Guerra and Hector Rondon. In addition, the Diamondbacks extended the contract of Gold Glove left fielder David Peralta. He also loves working with the coaching staff.
Another factor in Ahmed’s decision was that there are “certain things about Arizona that I love that other places can’t offer.” His wife and children love the weather and getting to be outside for most of the year. He added that they “love the restaurants and the food, and it’s a place we feel like we’re at home.”
Information from the team press release contributed to this writing.