Diamondbacks enter winter meetings with clear priorities
Dec 2, 2023, 7:20 PM | Updated: 8:15 pm
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Major League Baseball’s winter meetings begin Sunday in Nashville with most free agent dominoes yet to fall, the largest being two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have had a busy early portion of the offseason when it comes to both the roster and the front office.
Arizona got off to a late start having played baseball into November and clear needs to bolster the roster for 2024 remain.
The winter meetings have a lot to live up to compared to last season from an action standpoint. Aaron Judge re-signed with the New York Yankees, the New York Mets replaced Jacob deGrom with Justin Verlander and Trea Turner found a home with the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Diamondbacks have an opportunity this offseason to build off an improved 84-win season and World Series run, and the winter meetings puts a lot of decision makers together to potentially define the offseason.
What have the D-backs accomplished this offseason?
The Diamondbacks have added arguably the biggest name yet to move on the trade market in third baseman Eugenio Suarez. Arizona moved quickly to fill its third base opening with a 32-year-old veteran coming off a 22-home run, 96-RBI and 214-strikeout season. He also fills a right-handed power bat need in the lineup.
“I do think it’s going to help us the more things we cross off our list, we’ll be able to become more disciplined as we move through the offseason and continue to improve the team,” general manager Mike Hazen said of moving quickly following the trade.
The club moved pitching prospect and 2019 first-rounder Blake Walston to the 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft.
But the Diamondbacks also had ground to make up off the field, as former farm director Josh Barfield departed for a position as the Chicago White Sox’s assistant general manager. Arizona hired Shaun Larkin, who spent the last eight years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, as Barfield’s replacement and Chris Slivka as assistant farm director. Former D-backs assistant pitching coach Barry Enright also took another job as the Los Angeles Angels’ pitching coach.
What do the D-backs still need?
Hazen went into the offseason clear on the on-field priorities. The D-backs still want starting pitching help and a right-handed bat, especially an outfielder considering Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. are free agents, while designated hitter could be a mix-and-match spot.
The Diamondbacks have a growing group of young but unproven over a full season starting pitchers to consider with Walston added to the mix. There is also the reality that Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly have two more seasons of team control remaining each.
Starters Aaron Nola, Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Luis Severino, Nick Martinez, Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson all signed, but that’s a mere dent in the field of available arms this winter.
Top-end names like Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Jordan Montgomery and Blake Snell are headliners, but there is a healthy number of middle to back-end veteran options and bounce-back candidates.
The hitters’ market has hardly moved with Jason Hayward’s $9 million contract with the Dodgers the most lucrative free agent deal for a position player.
Right-handed outfielders available as free agents include Gurriel, Pham, Jorge Soler and Teoscar Hernandez. J.D. Martinez is a DH option.
The Diamondback’s projected payroll as it stands is approximately $108 million evaluated by Spotrac. They ranked No. 21 with a $119 million payroll in 2023 and received an extra month of postseason and World Series revenue.
Suarez added a chunk to the payroll with a base salary of $11 million for 2024, second to Ketel Marte on the roster, but Hazen assured there are resources to nab a starter. How much exactly is the pertinent question, but there is also a potentially robust trade market to explore.