How Perdomo-Lawlar duo give Diamondbacks 3B plan flexibility this offseason
Nov 9, 2023, 6:45 PM | Updated: Nov 10, 2023, 2:08 pm
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
PARADISE VALLEY — The Arizona Diamondbacks entered the offseason with upgrades to make at third base and two young potential starting shortstops.
Geraldo Perdomo, 24, was a 2.5-win player in 2023 and a developing leader in the D-backs’ clubhouse. Jordan Lawlar is 21 and Arizona’s top-ranked prospect who received a taste of major league and postseason experience.
The Diamondbacks, meanwhile, ranked No. 24 in MLB with -1.9 wins above average from third basemen in 2023. Evan Longoria is a free agent mulling retirement, while Emmanuel Rivera and Jace Peterson combined for 0.0 rWAR.
General manager Mike Hazen said the focus is on adding talent at this point in the offseason when asked about the possibility of Lawlar or Perdomo playing third base and whether that could impact his plans.
“It’s something we’ve talked about, I don’t know exactly where that’s going to fall down,” Hazen said at GM Meetings on Wednesday. “I think we’re in the period now where there’s a lot of ability to acquire external players and you focus on that first. Then we’ll see where that all comes together later in the offseason.
“You don’t want to ever pass up the opportunity to get additional good players in your organization … We’re still going to try to be aggressive however we can.”
Hazen has said the Diamondbacks are looking for right-handed power this offseason with outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Tommy Pham hitting free agency. Designated hitter is another open spot but one Hazen believes will have overlap like it did when the D-backs added Pham at the trade deadline.
Perdomo has played 85 innings at third base in his MLB career, and Lawlar started to get some work over there in the minors before his call-up.
Perdomo made the All-Star Game after a hot first half offensively. He finished with a .712 OPS and in the top 10 percentile in chase (17%), whiff (15%) and walk rates (12.9%). Defensively, he showed plus range and arm strength, finishing with two outs above average.
What a play by Perdomo!! pic.twitter.com/FV0vorWTZt
— Arizona Diamondbacks (@Dbacks) November 2, 2023
Lawlar only received 36 plate appearances in MLB, including the postseason, but he was on fire through 16 games at Triple-A Reno before his elevation (1.049 OPS in 80 plate appearances). He has speed to burn and athleticism, although there is still a level of polish to get to on defense.
There’s no guarantee he will start 2024 in the majors, but Hazen said he expects Lawlar to make an impact “at some point next year.”
“I thought Lawlar had a really good season this year. I’m glad he got up here to get that exposure,” Hazen said after the World Series. “… I don’t think we’re just going to hand jobs at this moment in time and run this team back as is without trying to make external improvements. Jordan is going to be a star on this team for a long time. I don’t know exactly when that’s gonna happen.”
Jordan Lawlar legs out an infield single for his first big league hit!
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 8, 2023
The Diamondbacks could platoon the two at some point. Perdomo has been better against right-handed pitching and Lawlar punished lefties in the minors.
Perdomo’s versatility also gives the D-backs opportunities to mix and match, such as getting Ketel Marte DH starts from time to time. Perdomo still played 144 games in 2023 despite platooning with Nick Ahmed for much of the year. One could move to third base at some point down the road.
These are speculative and spring training questions but something to consider as the D-backs look to plug holes this offseason.
Diamondbacks offseason fits: Free agent third basemen
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Arizona’s interest in Justin Turner, which isn’t a new thought. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman last offseason listed the D-backs, Dodgers and Marlins as interested suitors for the veteran before he took his talents to the Boston Red Sox.
Turner is 38 going on 39 and didn’t play much third base last year. He spent most of the season as a designated hitter, filling in at first an second base more than the hot corner. His right-handed bat still played with a .276/.345/.455 slash line and 23 home runs.
Even though he hasn’t been an everyday third baseman like he was for years with the Dodgers, the two-time All-Star and World Series winner is a veteran DH option who can slide into different infield positions coming off another good offensive season.
Matt Chapman and Jeimer Candelario are two third basemen on the market set to be 30 at the beginning of the 2024 season.
Chapman is represented by agent Scott Boras and was given the qualifying offer by the Toronto Blue Jays.
He won his fourth career Gold Glove in 2023, but his offensive output was uneven. He produced a 1.033 OPS through May 9 and a .660 OPS the rest of the season. He hit below the Mendoza line in both August and September. He still managed 4.4 rWAR and has been at least a league average hitter in each of his seven seasons.
Candelario is a switch-hitter coming off a bounce-back year in which he was traded from the Washington Nationals to the Chicago Cubs. He was a 2.9-win player with an .807 OPS and 22 home runs while playing adequate defense (1 OAA).
Other third basemen on the market include Josh Donaldson, Gio Urshela, Mike Moustakas, Eduardo Escobar and Jean Segura.
Hazen said he is starting to have conversations to monitor the trade market, another outlet for the D-backs to add a third baseman, starting pitchers or right-handed outfielders.