The Diamondbacks have claimed Cole Tucker off waivers from the Pirates, reports Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The club later announced the claim, with right-hander Jacob Webb being designated for assignment to create a spot for Tucker on the 40-man roster. Tucker has been optioned to Triple-A.
This will be a homecoming for Tucker, as he was born in Phoenix, played high school ball at Mountain Pointe High there, and committed to the University of Arizona before being selected by the Pirates in the first round of the 2014 draft.
Despite being a former first round selection, Tucker has struggled to cement himself in the big leagues so far. In 154 career games, he’s hit just .211/259/.314 for a wRC+ of 53. Though the club initially hoped that he could be their shortstop of the future, his tepid performance at the plate pushed them into moving him around the diamond in the hopes of creating a super utility player. As such, Tucker’s seen time at each infield position, as well as appearances in center and right field.
With the Diamondbacks, they likely intend to use Tucker to help with his original shortstop position. Nick Ahmed has been on the COVID IL for a couple of weeks and is still trying to get answers about the shoulder issues that have been plaguing him for years. With Ahmed out, the club has given the bulk of their shortstop starts to Geraldo Perdomo, who is taking walks but adding no power, producing a slash line of .215/.338/.277, 82 wRC+.
Tucker, 25, is in his final option year, meaning the D-Backs can give him regular playing time in Reno and see if he can get into a groove at the plate and earn his way onto the big league roster, though he’ll be out of options next year and will need to hold onto a spot on the active roster or else be sent into DFA limbo again.
As for Webb, he pitched for the Braves in each of the previous three seasons but was designated for assignment in April, landing in Arizona on a waiver claim. He had dealt with his share of injuries but provided good results when healthy. In 76 2/3 career innings in the big leagues, he has a 2.47 ERA, 21.9% strikeout rate, 9.6% walk rate and 38.7% ground ball rate. He’s logged just 5 1/3 Triple-A innings so far this year. He is in his final option year, meaning any team lacking in depth could be interested in picking him up and stashing him in Triple-A. Arizona will have a week to trade him or put him on waivers.