Ahmed, D-backs agree to $32.5 million, 4-year deal

MLB
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PHOENIX (AP)The Arizona Diamondbacks capped a busy offseason by locking down their two-time Gold Glove shortstop, who has slowly turned into a solid offensive threat.

The D-backs announced Monday that they’ve agreed to a $32.5 million, four-year deal with Nick Ahmed that runs through the 2023 season. The 29-year-old Ahmed was eligible for salary arbitration and had his hearing scheduled for Wednesday, but that won’t be needed thanks to the deal.

Ahmed said his comfort in Arizona – along with the team’s offseason moves that included adding pitcher Madison Bumgarner and outfielder Kole Calhoun – made staying with the Diamondbacks very appealing.

”At the end of the day, I’d rather be here than anywhere else,” Ahmed said. ”They presented me with an opportunity, I thought long and hard about it, and I took advantage of the opportunity.”

Ahmed gets a $1.5 million signing bonus, of which $1 million is payable on April 1 and $500,000 on April 1, 2022. He has salaries of $6 million this year, $7.5 million each in 2021 and 2022 and $10 million in 2023.

His salary would escalate by $250,000 in the following season for 150 or more days on the active roster. His salary would go up by $500,000 in all subsequent seasons for each Gold Glove won or All-Star selection, with a cap on those of $1.5 million each.

Ahmed has had a reputation as an elite defensive shortstop since his debut with the D-backs in 2014 and has steadily improved his hitting. He hit a career-high .254 last season with 19 homers and 82 RBIs in 158 games.

”We believe in him as an offensive player and a defensive player,” Arizona GM Mike Hazen said. ”Sometimes he gets overshadowed as an offensive player because his defense is so elite, but we see the combination. He crushes lefties, he has power.”

The D-backs hope Ahmed can anchor the middle of the team’s defense along with Ketel Marte, who will likely split time between second base and center field. Ahmed won his Gold Gloves in each of the past two seasons.

Ahmed’s signing caps an active few months for the D-backs’ front office. The moves include signing Bumgarner (five years, $85 million) and Calhoun (two years, $16 million), re-signing outfielder David Peralta (three years, $22 million) and acquiring outfielder Starling Marte in a trade.

The Diamondbacks hope those moves can help them compete in the NL West, though they’re still chasing the Los Angeles Dodgers, who won 106 games last season and are adding star outfielder Mookie Betts. The Diamondbacks finished with an 85-77 record last year.

Hazen said the Dodgers have earned all the respect they get and remain a formidable opponent, but he’s pleased with the moves Arizona has made.

”We’re going to put our best foot forward every day we go out on the field,” Hazen said.

Arizona’s pitchers and catchers have their first workout of spring training Wednesday. The full team has its first workout on Feb. 17.

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