ESPN’s Schoenfield: Under-the-radar MLB free agents for Diamondbacks to consider

Nov 30, 2023, 7:48 AM

Jorge Soler...

Jorge Soler #12 of the Miami Marlins celebrates with teammates in the dugout after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on September 30, 2023 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

(Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

While free agents Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell and Cody Bellinger will command most of the attention this offseason, there is still significant value to be had elsewhere from players on the open market.

ESPN’s David Schoenfield listed several free agents as “possible fits” to help the Diamondbacks in 2024.

The D-backs have already traded for everyday third baseman Eugenio Suarez this offseason. But at designated hitter, they had a revolving group of players until Tommy Pham took over the role entering the postseason. Primary left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. played 50 games at DH, Pavin Smith 30 and Evan Longoria 25.  Here are several free-agent bats that could fill that void:

J.D. Martinez, DH (36 years old): Martinez is coming off a season where he hit .271 with 33 home runs and 103 runs batted in 113 games with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The six-time All-Star played 62 games in Arizona in 2017 after the Tigers traded him before the deadline.

Jorge Soler, DH (31): Soler hit 36 home runs with a .250/.341/.512 batting line for the Miami Marlins. The 2023 All-Star led the AL in home runs in 2019 (48) and won World Series MVP in 2021 with Atlanta. He then signed a three-year, $36 million deal with the Marlins but declined his $9 million player option for next season.

Justin Turner, DH (39): Turner hit .276 with a .800 OPS in 146 games (626 plate appearances) with the Boston Red Sox in 2023. He opted out of his player option for 2024 to become a free agent.

Joc Pederson, DH (31): Pederson slashed .235/.348/.416 with a .764 OPS in 121 games last season with the San Francisco Giants. The slugger also missed 30 games during the year due to right hand/wrist injuries. In 2022, however, Pederson had the best OPS+ of his career (146) in 433 plate appearances.

2024 free agent pitching options

Nick Martinez, RP (33): The San Diego Padres declined two option years and let Martinez hit free agency. He is a multiple-inning reliever who can also start. In his second season with San Diego, he went 6-4 with a 3.43 ERA in nine starts and 54 relief appearances. In 2022, he went 4-4 with a 3.47 ERA and had eight saves in 37 relief appearances and 10 starts for the Padres. He spent the previous four seasons in Japan.

James Paxton, SP (35): Paxton had 19 starts last year for the Red Sox and went 7-5 with a 4.50 ERA and struck out 101. His 96 innings were his most since 2019 after recovering from Tommy John surgery. He made only five starts in 2020, one start in 2021 and zero starts in 2022. Paxton got off to a strong start in 2023, going 5-1 with a 2.73 ERA before he struggled in the second half (2-4, 6.98 ERA).

Gurriel to return?

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. LF (age: 30) Gurriel was named an All-Star for the first time in 2023. The outfielder posted a career-high 24 home runs while driving in 82 runs with a .772 OPS.

The Diamondbacks acquired Gurriel Jr. from the Toronto Blue Jays back in December 2022 in a trade that also sent catcher Gabriel Moreno to Arizona in exchange for Daulton Varsho. ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel predicts he will earn a three-year, $45 million contract in free agency.

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ESPN’s Schoenfield: Under-the-radar MLB free agents for Diamondbacks to consider