Ahmed went 1-for-2 with a walk and a solo home run in Friday's spring game against the Rockies. Ahmed, who hit a career-high 19 home runs in 2019, cranked out his first spring home run. The Diamondbacks made the soon-to-be 30-year-old shortstop a wealthier man during the offseason, inking Ahmed to a four-year extension. It's a payday earned by his improvements at the plate. All the advanced metrics (wRC+, contact rates, plate discipline, hard-hit percentage, barrels, etc.) indicate the improved bat is for real.
Ahmed agreed to a four-year extension with Arizona on Monday. Ahmed will make at least $32.5 million over the course of the deal, with the potential for more in incentives, Nick Piecoro of The Arizona Republic reports. The shortstop had been scheduled to reach free agency after the 2020 season, so the deal buys out three extra years and keeps him under club control through his age-33 season. He's never had an above-average batting line, but his .254/.316/.437 line last season was good for a 92 wRC+, an acceptable figure for a player with a strong defensive reputation at shortstop.
Ahmed will enter the offseason with a particular focus on being more consistent at the plate, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. Ahmed was already an elite defender upon entering MLB, and his bat is catching up. He's set career bests (entering Sunday) in most major hitting categories, including average (.255), OBP (.318), slugging (.440), home runs (19), triples (6) and RBI (82). The Massachusetts native plans to focus on the areas of better pitch recognition, making more hard contact, and chasing fewer pitches outside the zone. The 29-year-old is entering the final year of arbitration and will become a free agent in 2021. His combination of elite defense and emerging bat should set himself up for a nice payday.
Ahmed went 2-for-4 with a solo home run in Monday's 9-7 loss to the Cardinals. Ahmed led off the ninth inning with his 19th homer, trying to ignite a rally to stave off elimination from postseason contention. Alas, the Diamondbacks could not complete the comeback, and their postseason hopes were dashed. Since his return from a finger injury four games ago, Ahmed is 5-for-15 with three extra-base hits.
Ahmed (finger) is in the lineup for Friday's game against the Padres. Ahmed missed the last couple games after his fingernail was damaged while fielding a groundball in Monday's game, but he is ready to return to action on the heels of a team off day. Ahmed will start at shortstop and hit seventh Friday night.