Reports: Diamondbacks connected to starting pitchers Lucas Giolito, Seth Lugo
Dec 5, 2023, 2:25 PM | Updated: 2:30 pm
(Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
The winter meetings have produced smoke without many fires through Tuesday morning, and the Arizona Diamondbacks have not been spared in the rumor mill while they look for improvements. MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reported on Tuesday the Diamondbacks had interest in free agent starting pitcher Lucas Giolito, while insider Jon Heyman linked the D-backs to former San Diego Padres right-hander Seth Lugo.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported the D-backs “would love to sign DH/IF Justin Turner to replace the leadership and bat of Evan Longoria.” The Athletic’s Jim Bowden also brought up Turner and another right-handed bat, saying Arizona has “discussed and have potential interest in both Justin Turner and J.D. Martinez.”
D-backs general manager Mike Hazen told MLB Network on Monday his club has no room to rest on its laurels after reaching the World Series. With Longoria, Tommy Pham and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on the market, Hazen reiterated the need for veteran leadership to backup the young corps.
“I still think we’re on the younger side … We had four 23-year-olds in our lineup during the playoffs,” Hazen said. “So I still think that group needs to be supplemented by some good veteran players.
“And then our pitching staff, our starting staff kind of fell apart on us in the second half of the season. You saw we ended up bullpening games in the CS and in the World Series. Not ideal, wasn’t what we really wanted … This will be the first offseason that we’re not hyper focused on the bullpen.”
How do these 4 free agents fit with the Diamondbacks?
Giolito had an uneven walk year pitching for three clubs. With the Chicago White Sox, where he spent 2017-23, he earned a 3.79 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He was enjoying a bounce-back season until he was traded to the Los Angeles Angels at the deadline for their No. 2 prospect Edgar Quero and No. 3 prospect Ky Bush.
Giolito had a 6.89 ERA in six starts with the Angels before he was waived and picked up by the Cleveland Guardians, for whom he continued to struggle with a 7.04 ERA in six starts. He led MLB with 33 starts and 41 home runs allowed.
The Southern California native is still 29 years old and not too far removed from a 2019-21 stretch in which he earned Cy Young votes each year. Since then, he has incorporated his slider much more, and he told FanGraphs this offseason that fastball command, especially at the top of the zone, will help him find more success.
Morosi said the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, Kansas City Royals and Boston Red Sox also were looking into Giolito.
Lugo jumped back into the starting rotation in 2023 with the San Diego Padres after spending five seasons primarily coming out of the New York Mets’ bullpen. He was a stable force in the middle of the rotation with a 3.57 ERA (3.83 FIP) and 1.20 WHIP.
His whiff and chase rates along with average exit velocity were bottom 20th percentile of MLB last season, but he kept walks down and produced ground balls to eat innings in his new role.
Lugo’s curveball has been a pitch he’s relied on for years, and its 7.1 inches of average vertical drops ranked No. 7 in MLB in 2023.
Heyman reported the Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds and Red Sox were also interested.
Seth Lugo, Unfair 3,406 RPM Curveball. 🥴
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) August 19, 2023
The Diamondbacks filled their third base need and added a right-handed bat by trading for Eugenio Suarez. So why would Turner make any sense?
The longtime third baseman is now 39 years old and did not play many innings at the hot corner last season. He played more first base while spending most of his time as the designated hitter. The D-backs remain in the market for a DH and an outfielder (could be the same player), and Turner showed he could still rake last year for the Red Sox.
Turner was a 2.1-win player (Baseball Reference) with an .800 OPS and 23 home runs. His strikeout rate went up a tick but his slash line stayed consistent with 2022.
The veteran has 1,539 games of experience in the regular season, 86 postseason games under his belt and a World Series from the 2020 Dodgers.
Justin Turner’s first @RedSox home run finds the Monster seats! 💣
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) April 16, 2023
Martinez is 36 years old coming off a monster bounce-back season for the Dodgers in which he slashed .271/.321/.572 with 33 home runs in 113 games.
He played 12 innings of defense in 2023 and none in 2022 with the Red Sox, but he’s played left field at Chase Field before back in 2017.
He was a super rental for the postseason-bound Diamondbacks, playing 62 games with a 1.107 OPS and 29 home runs. He earned NL MVP votes despite playing most of the season in the AL with the Detroit Tigers.
JD Martinez hits his 16th home run in his 49th game this season, matching his total in 139 games last season pic.twitter.com/pyeMUUq1Yp
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) June 10, 2023
Arizona has a left-handed heavy outfield but added righties to the lineup over the past couple offseason with Suarez and catcher Gabriel Moreno. Top prospect Jordan Lawlar also bats right-handed. Hazen told MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM he wants to try to get more right-handed but feels the club is more balanced than in past years.
“We’re going to keep looking for the best player that we can find to fit into those spots,” Hazen said. “If we find a right-handed hitter who can either go to the corner outfield or can DH, we would go with an all left-handed hitting outfield but we’ll see where that takes us.”