OF Lourdes Gurriel Jr. will stay with Diamondbacks
Dec 22, 2023, 10:59 AM
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Free agent outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is coming back to the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Gurriel, 30, agreed to a three-year contract with a club option for the fourth season, the D-backs announced Friday morning.
The D-backs entered the offseason with both right-handed outfielders Gurriel and Tommy Pham becoming free agents, leaving left-handed-hitting outfielders Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and Jake McCarthy atop the depth chart.
“We felt like we needed to continue to add to our outfield and the middle of our lineup, specifically right-handed hitting. So he was a natural fit through all of that,” general manager Mike Hazen said on a Zoom press conference Friday.
Gurriel had a career year in many respects, making his first All-Star Game, playing in his first World Series and hitting a career-best 24 home runs. He was durable, playing 145 of 162 games primarily in left field or as the designated hitter.
Arizona added Gurriel and catcher Gabriel Moreno in a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last December for outfielder Daulton Varsho.
“Secondarily, I think what he added to our clubhouse last year what he does for our players, his make up, his work ethic, those were major factors in bringing him back,” Hazen said.
While admittedly difficult to deal Varsho after his breakout 2022 campaign, the D-backs benefited greatly from acquiring two starters who slotted into positions of need. Moreno at 23 years old is set to be the starting catcher for the foreseeable future, while Gurriel provided a middle of the order right-handed bat who played credible defense in left field (+1 outs above average, 14 defensive runs saved).
He finished second in MLB among left fielders with at least 100 innings in DRS behind Cleveland’s Steven Kwan.
“It’s been a dream season both individually and collectively. I don’t think I could have asked for more,” Gurriel said via Spanish interpreter Alex Arpiza during the World Series. “I’ve felt like we’re a family here. Very grateful for the whole collective group.”
Gurriel played five MLB seasons with Toronto before the trade and has been an above league average hitter every year, per OPS+.
He slashed .261/.309/.463 in 2023 with an OPS+ of 108, eight percentage points better than average. He was streaky, as evidenced by his month-to-month splits. In May, he had a 1.130 OPS. That dropped to .625 in June and a dismal .480 in July before he picked back up with an .836 clip the rest of the way and .744 in the postseason.
“We think he’s moving into, if not already, into the prime of his offensive career, and we’re excited to continue to have him for another few years,” Hazen said.
Gurriel and Pham hit back-to-back home runs to take the lead in Game 6 of the NLCS at the Philadelphia Phillies, and the former made a series of highlight catches in left field.
During his May reign of terror, he hit a walk-off double on Mother’s Day against the San Francisco Giants.
Gurriel, born in Cuba, also had a memorable year off the field, becoming a U.S. citizen in May.
The Diamondbacks went into the offseason looking for more right-handed power and clubhouse leadership given their free agents. They traded for former Seattle Mariners third baseman Eugenio Suarez and signed left-handed starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez.
In addition, the D-backs designated Diego Castillo for assignment in order to bring the 40-man roster back to 40.