Growing up in Buckeye, Ariz., less than 30 minutes west of Phoenix, Kole Calhoun led his Arizona State Sun Devils to the College World Series his junior season in 2009. Calhoun’s performance was phenomenal in four College World Series games as he hit .563 with a trio of home runs and 11 runs batted in before being eliminated by the Texas Longhorns in the semi-final game. A year later, after completing his senior season with the Sun Devils, Calhoun was selected in the eighth round of the MLB draft by the Los Angeles Angels.
This Christmas Eve, the 32-year-old agreed to a two-year, $16 million contract with his hometown Arizona Diamondbacks. The deal also includes a $9 million club option to extend his time in Arizona into the 2022 season. This is a nice Christmas gift to Calhoun’s family and friends in Buckeye and the surrounding greater Phoenix region. Calhoun’s addition to the Diamondbacks gives Arizona two of the best defensive outfielders in the National League and a hitter who just slugged a career-high 33 home runs this past season.
Calhoun made his MLB debut for the Angels in May 2012 and assumed the starting right field job in 2014 before becoming a perennial finalist for a Gold Glove at the position, winning the award in 2016. Since 2014, Calhoun has been a fixture in right field beside Mike Trout but the emergence of top prospect Joe Adell and the addition of Brian Goodwin last season made him expendable in Anaheim. Calhoun brings his career .249 average, 140 home runs, and 451 runs batted in to the team he rooted for growing up.
Calhoun will join fellow Gold Glove winner David Peralta and 2019 All-Star Ketel Marte in the Diamondbacks’ outfield going into 2020. Peralta will be a free agent after the 2020 season and the multi-year deal with Calhoun provides additional stability in Arizona’s outfield in anticipation of Peralta’s potential future departure. The trio of veteran outfielders will support and take the pressure off developing infield talent such as Josh Rojas and Kevin Cron.
The Calhoun signing comes on the heels of Arizona’s signing last week of ace Madison Bumgarner who joins Robbie Ray, Zac Gallen, Mike Leake, and Merrill Kelly in a promising pitching staff. Division rivals in the Dodgers, Padres, Giants, and Rockies have done very little to improve their rosters so far this winter. While rumors persist that the D-backs may be shopping Robbie Ray, it seems more likely that Arizona will try to compete with this improved rotation next season. Arizona can always deal Ray for a hefty return at the July trade deadline if they fall out of playoff contention early in the 2020 season.
The Diamondbacks are only two years removed from their last playoff berth in 2017 and fans are hopeful the addition of Calhoun to the Diamondbacks is a sign the team is serious about contending in 2020. In the meantime, Kole and Jennifer Calhoun and their young children will be able to celebrate their Christmas holiday with their families in Arizona knowing they will be close to home in the coming seasons.