Hazen: Diamondbacks reuniting with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was a priority, still looking for DH

Dec 22, 2023, 12:01 PM

Lourdes Gurriel Jr....

Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #12 of the Arizona Diamondbacks warms up before Game Two of the Championship Series against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park on October 17, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

Free agent Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was a natural fit to return to the Arizona Diamondbacks this winter, a club looking for exactly what he provided in 2023 as a right-handed bat in the outfield and a clubhouse presence.

The two sides stayed in touch through the general manager meetings and winter meetings, but their negotiations picked up as the free agency process played out more recently. They came together on a three-year contract worth $42 million with an opt out after the second season. There is a club option for 2027.

The D-backs announced their agreement with Gurriel on Friday, and general manager Mike Hazen explained Gurriel was a top target of Arizona’s this winter on the left field market.

“We felt like we needed to continue to add to our outfield and then the middle of our lineup, specifically right-handed hitting,” Hazen said in a Zoom press conference on Friday. “… Secondarily, I think what he added to our clubhouse last year, what he does for our players, his makeup, his work ethic, those are major factors in bringing him back.”

Gurriel was not qualifying offer eligible, and Hazen said they restructured his deal in October to give the D-backs equal negotiating rights with the other clubs, which the GM explained made the reunion possible.

Picking up impact players is not necessarily done in Arizona, which has filled out third base by trading for Eugenio Suarez, added southpaw Eduardo Rodriguez to the rotation on a four-year contract and now brought back Gurriel.

Hazen said the club is still looking for offense, a designated hitter with their defensive positions filled out with some depth.

“More bat oriented, but obviously we’d like to have some defensive flexibility if possible, but it’s more a bat-oriented priority,” Hazen said. “I think we have enough positional flexibility to withstand taking on more of an offensive profile.”

The D-backs went into the offseason needing more right-handed punch with Gurriel, Tommy Pham and Evan Longoria becoming free agents. First baseman Christian Walker and catcher Gabriel Moreno were the only two right-handed returning starters with second baseman Ketel Marte and shortstop Geraldo Perdomo switch hitters.

Now that Suarez and Gurriel fit the need for right-handed balance, Hazen said the DH spot doesn’t necessarily have to go to a right-handed bat, which opens up more possibilities.

“I think the competitiveness within our division is going to still require us to continue to upgrade the roster any way we can,” Hazen said.

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Hazen: Diamondbacks reuniting with Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was a priority, still looking for DH