The Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday designated infielder Jake Lamb for assignment and selected 2017 first-round pick Pavin Smith from the alternate training site.
“Those are hard conversations to have. Jake Lamb has meant so much to this organization and he’s meant so much to me as well,” manager Torey Lovullo told reporters before Thursday night’s game.
“We just felt like this is a game of performance — and I know opportunity — he didn’t get a tremendous opportunity but it was a way for us to get a look at a younger player such as a Pavin.”
Lamb has been abysmal since his 2017 All-Star campaign when he hit .279 with 20 home runs and 67 RBI in the first half of the season. The 29-year-old’s numbers took a dip in the second half of that year as he was only able to muster a .204 average.
But unfortunately for the lefty, his production would then take a plunge over the course of the next two seasons, both of which included working through injuries. In over 464 plate appearances from 2018-19, Lamb couldn’t crack the .700 OPS mark.
And in 18 games this season (50 plate appearances), he compiled five hits and six walks for a mere .116 batting average and an on-base percentage of just .240. Lamb, who has been with the D-backs since 2014, can become a free agent in 2021.
“There was a combination of reasons but they’re never easy conversations and they’re always very difficult goodbyes,” Lovullo said. “Jake will land on his feet. I’m sure of that. He’ll get an opportunity that I’m hopeful for and he’ll get moving in the direction that I know that he’s capable of as soon as he possibly can.”
Lovullo added that if this season would have been the normal 162 games then Lamb might have been able to right his ship. The manager was adamant about the left-handed hitter needing more opportunity.
“I kind of pulled the plug on his playing time after 25 or 30 at-bats and whether it’s fair or not fair, we know that this game sometimes is cruel and about performance,” Lovullo said.
“He just never got that opportunity and that’s why I feel comfortable saying that in another situation where he got a ton of at-bats that he would’ve probably gotten things going in a very good direction.”