Nearly a decade ago this week, David Peralta was given the news he had been so desperate to receive. The Diamondbacks had a low-level roster spot open, and at the urging of scout Chris Carminucci, they signed Peralta, then 25, to a minor league deal, plucking him out of an independent league.
A year later, Peralta reached the big leagues, where he has been a fixture in the Diamondbacks outfield ever since. Peralta is quick to say how fortunate he is with how things have worked out. And he has always said he wants to play in Arizona through the end of his career.
But with the trade deadline less than a month away — and with his contract set to expire at the end of the year — Peralta on Tuesday sounded fully aware of the forces that could pull him elsewhere. In years past, he has brushed trade rumors aside, deflecting them with a shrug. While he said he was doing the same this year, he seemed more willing to consider the alternative.
“Like I always say — and I’m not going to get tired of saying it — I want to stay in this organization,” Peralta said. “But I know that on the other side it’s a business, right? You have to think of it that way. If something happens, it’ll hurt, because this is the only organization I know. But if it happens, I’ll just have to take it and move forward.”
He said years of rumors have steeled him to them. He thinks they have made him better at redirecting his focus on the field when the time calls for it. But he also seems to be preparing himself for the possibility.
Peralta believes that if such a thing were to happen, it almost certainly would be to a team that is pushing for a playoff spot, a team that sees him as someone who could help.
“That’s the way I have to think about it,” Peralta said. “If something happens, it’s going to be for the positive.”
Peralta thought back to his first year in the majors. It was 2014, and the Diamondbacks were speeding toward a 98-loss finish. At the deadline, they sent outfielder Gerardo Parra to the Milwaukee Brewers.
“He came here to pack his stuff and he just lost it,” Peralta said. “He was crying. It’s hard. This was his first organization. You don’t know how you’re going to take it. You want to be prepared. This is (going to affect) my family, too. This is going to be hard. But whatever. I’m just going to enjoy it and keep doing what I’m doing.”
Unlike Parra, this is not Peralta’s first organization. He originally signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in September 2004 as a left-handed pitcher. He had shoulder problems and underwent multiple surgeries before being released in 2009. Five years later, he finally convinced Carminucci to sign him after weeks spent pestering him with text messages.
Nine years later, Peralta celebrated the anniversary of his signing by crushing a grand slam in Colorado. He is hitting .348 over his past 50 plate appearances. He owns an .816 OPS over his past 90. For a player who wants to stay put, the reality is that the better he hits, the more attractive he will be on the trade market.
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“So I have to start sucking?” Peralta asked with a laugh. “I still can’t picture myself with another team. I don’t know why. Maybe because this is the first and only team I’ve ever been with. It’s just hard to think of myself that way. Only when it happens, that’s when I’m going to realize, hey, it happened. Right now I’m thinking I’m going to be here the rest of my career. That’s always my mind-set.”
Peralta has played the third-most games (943) in Diamondbacks history, trailing only Luis Gonzalez (1,194) and Paul Goldschmidt (1,092). He has the third-most hits, the sixth-best OPS-plus. He has won a Gold Glove, been named a Silver Slugger.
“It’s been an adventure for me,” he said. “It’s been great. From where I came from and now I’m putting my name on things like that. I would have never thought that would happen to me.”
Peralta has about $3.75 million remaining of his $7.5 million salary for this season, the final year of a three-year, $22 million extension the club gave him in January 2020. It is hard to envision the Diamondbacks extending him again — less because of his play than because of the younger, cheaper options they have around him.
The club is awash in young, left-handed outfielders. Alek Thomas and Daulton Varsho already are getting everyday at-bats. Top prospect Corbin Carroll, in Double-A, is not far behind, and Pavin Smith, Jake McCarthy, Dominic Fletcher and Dominic Canzone all reside on the Triple-A Reno roster.
Even if Peralta, the longest-tenured player on the roster, survives the trade deadline, he might be entering the final leg of his time with the organization. Asked if that is how he sees it, he just shrugs.
“It depends on what the Diamondbacks are going to do, what their goals are,” he said. “I’m always going to be open to playing here. I would love to stay here for the rest of my career. It would mean a lot to me. But we’ll see what’s going to happen.”