Ken Kendrick: 2024 Diamondbacks will have highest payroll in team history

Dec 13, 2023, 10:27 AM

PHOENIX — The Arizona Diamondbacks have added two players who will take up a combined $25.3 million on the payroll in 2024, and by all indications, they are not done.

Arizona’s front office shored up third base with the Eugenio Suarez trade and deepened the rotation by signing Eduardo Rodriguez after last season’s World Series run. Managing partner Ken Kendrick said in a media scrum on Tuesday that general manager Mike Hazen has the authority to improve the team further.

“With our playoff run and the money it created … we can redeploy in this year and into the future,” Kendrick said.

“Of course the playoff run we think creates a greater fan interest. We’d like to think we could have greater revenue streams going into next season where more people want to come out and watch our team play, and we’re going to reinvest those. I mean, the Diamondbacks are going to go on the field this year with the highest payroll in the history of the team. I’m not going to tell you what it will be, but it’ll be the highest payroll that we’ve ever had.”

The messaging was consistent to Kendrick’s comments at the end of the postseason in which he said revenue from the run would allow the organization to invest in the product on the field.

FanGraphs projects Arizona’s payroll at $127 million before other moves are executed, which projects somewhere in the middle of the majors.

Suarez will make $11.2 million with a $15 million option for next season, while Rodriguez agreed to a four-year, $80 million contract with a vested option for the fifth season.

When asked whether the D-backs could have accomplished the two acquisitions without a playoff run, Kendrick said “perhaps, but we sure can do that and more now that we did have the good fortune of our team going deep in the playoffs.”

Who can the Diamondbacks add next?

Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Tuesday that aiding the lineup is at the forefront of his focus, but the front office will continue to engage in the pitching market both for starters and relievers.

The largest free agent and trade dominoes have fallen with Shohei Ohtani agreeing to a 10-year deal worth $700 million with unprecedented deferrals, plus Juan Soto getting traded from the San Diego Padres to the New York Yankees. But most upper-level free agents have yet to sign, so there is still a lot to unfold before spring training in a slow-moving offseason.

“We’re still all over the market for pitching and position players and I don’t know what’s next yet,” Hazen said during Rodriguez’s introduction on Tuesday. “But we’re still out there exploring ways to continue to improve the team. I think adding a bat of some sort is still something we’d like to do.

“I still think adding pitching is something that we’re going to continue to pursue and I’m sure we’re going to add to the bullpen at some point, as well. The trade market still hasn’t really gone down much at all. I’m sure we’re going to start to see some of that activity heat up and I think we’re fairly well positioned for that as well. So I don’t know yet, but we’ll see.”

The D-backs have reported links to free agent designated hitters J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner, both right-handed power bats reaching their later 30s. Martinez had an All-Star season with the Dodgers in 2023, though, and Turner still hit 23 home runs.

Someone to take on the DH spot or another right-handed outfielder to balance Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas, Jake McCarthy and Dominic Fletcher appear to be natural fits. Backup catcher and someone able to give first baseman Christian Walker a breather once in a while have also come up as something to look at.

Hazen said there is always work to do to boost the starting pitching, although there is a number of younger starters such as Tommy Henry and Ryne Nelson available to compete for the job.

The GM expressed Arizona’s postseason run has already benefitted them in free agency and could continue to do so. Rodriguez said a significant reason for joining Arizona is to fight for a championship.

“Coming off the World Series, some of that speaks for itself in terms of the season we had, everyone gets to see you when you play in the playoffs,” Hazen said. “They get to know your players, they get to see your team. So you know who Corbin Carroll is, if you didn’t really, you got him front and center there for 30 straight days.”

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