Lewis, 27, whom was acquired in exchange for catcher/outfielder Cooper Hummel, would, if healthy, give the Diamondbacks a power threat from the right side, someone who could provide balance to a lineup heavy on left-handed hitters.
“We felt like he was a good fit for us, taking a shot at some upside here with the power potential,” Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen said. “He’s gotten on base when healthy, and we feel like this is a good opportunity for us to acquire some potential impact.”
Lewis, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 draft, took home American League Rookie of the Year honors in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, hitting .262/.364/.437 with 11 home runs in 206 at-bats. He looked at the time like a future building block for the then-rebuilding Mariners.
But Lewis has dealt with repeated issues with his right knee that have derailed his career. A month into his professional career, he tore the right anterior cruciate ligament and the medial and lateral meniscus after an ugly collision at home plate, an injury that required reconstructive surgery.
He dealt with more knee discomfort the following year, then needed another procedure prior to the 2018 season. He had additional issues with his right meniscus in 2021, requiring a third surgery, and the recovery from that stretched into this past season. He also was sidelined by a concussion when he was hit on the head by a pitch in May and missed more than a month.
“We’re going to work hard to stay on top of that situation and how that kind of fits from a playing time standpoint and a use standpoint,” Hazen said of Lewis’ health. “But when he’s in the lineup, he’s a good fit for our team.”
Hazen later added, “We want to keep him on the field and as fresh as possible. If that means taking some days at DH and some days in left field, that’s how we’re going to deploy him.”
Lewis has played in only 54 games in the majors over the past two seasons, hitting a combined .215/.301/.366. He hit .245 with 12 homers in 147 at-bats in Triple-A Tacoma this year.
Though Lewis adds to the Diamondbacks’ outfield logjam, Hazen said the acquisition “doesn’t change” the likelihood of a trade one of the club’s left-handed hitting outfielders.
“This rounds out the roster, I think, a little more from a right-left standpoint,” Hazen said. “(If the) opportunity (presents) itself for us to continue to improve the roster, we’re going to look at those things. As of now, we’ve handled this roster last year — and it can work for us with the DH — but we’ll see as we get further on into the offseason.”
Hummel was the key return in the deadline deal that sent infielder Eduardo Escobar to the Milwaukee Brewers at the deadline in 2021. Known for his discerning eye at the plate, he never got going offensively as a rookie this year, hitting just .176/.274/.307 with three homers in 66 games, splitting time between outfielder and catcher.
He did perform well in Triple-A Reno, hitting .310 with a .423 on-base and .950 OPS in 33 games there.
The Diamondbacks had already signaled an intention to find help at catcher, likely in a backup role to Carson Kelly, and with an already-crowded outfield Hummel looked ticketed to serve as depth next season.
Lewis gives the Diamondbacks a right-handed hitting outfielder just days after the club potentially cut ties with two others in Jordan Luplow and Stone Garrett, both of whom were designated for assignment on Tuesday.
Lewis has two-plus years of service time and will be arbitration-eligible for the first time this season. He is projected to earn $1.2 million this season, according to MLB Trade Rumors.
Lewis was a nontender candidate for the Mariners; not only do they have a number of players vying for outfield/DH at-bats, but the club grew frustrated this year with Lewis’ inconsistent availability on a nightly basis due to his knees.
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Diamondbacks land slugger Kyle Lewis in deal with Mariners