Be of good cheer, Arizona Diamondbacks fans!
Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is coming home to Chase Field — and he’s staying for awhile.
Ken Rosenthal broke the news of the signing with Jeff Passan providing the contract details: Three years for $42 million with a club option for the fourth year. Gurriel also has an opt-out after the second year.
Let’s take a second to consider what this all means on the field, in the clubhouse, and in terms of front-office planning.
The D-backs needed a right-handed outfielder, and they’re bringing back a good one
The D-backs traded for Gurriel Jr. as part of the deal that sent Daulton Varsho to the Toronto Blue Jays last offseason and also brought back starting catcher Gabriel Moreno. Upon arriving in Phoenix, Gurriel Jr. did not disappoint and quickly became part of the D-backs’ championship core.
The All-Star split his time between playing left field (95 games) and DHing (50 games). He hit 24 home runs and slashed .261/.309/.463 for a 106 wRC+.
Defensively, he had the best season of his career, earning 14 DRS with plays like this one.
In bringing Gurriel Jr. back to Phoenix, the D-backs have held together a potent outfield lineup.
Gurriel Jr. is a key part of their clubhouse
Manager Torrey Lovullo has been clear that a positive clubhouse culture is part of what makes this team work. The organization has been selective about the players they bring in, especially during their contention window.
Consider, then, trading for Eugenio Suárez, a right-handed third baseman known for being a positive presence, in addition to bringing in Eduardo Rodriguez, a player both Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen knew from their days with the Boston Red Sox.
The D-backs have put together a team that works, and Gurriel Jr. was a key part of that in 2023. In addition to his on-field performance, signing him adds to that illusive part of the D-backs’ team construction.
Plus, there’s the purple hair, which just pops with the D-backs’ retro uniforms. (They really need to bring those unis back).
Gurriel Jr. just fits with this iteration of the D-backs. Hazen knew that, and he acted on it.
The organization is signaling they’re for real
Consider this clip from a champagne-soaked Zac Gallen during the 2023 playoffs:
“If you’re scared, stay home.”
After a week where baseball news fixated on the Los Angeles Dodgers and their signing of Shohei Ohtani in addition to trading for Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot, it was easy for D-backs fans to feel despair about the state of the NL West in 2024.
The D-backs weren’t having it. As Hazen said during Rodriguez’s signing ceremony:
“This is one of the most competitive, toughest divisions in all of baseball. We’re happy to compete in it. I think it makes us better, frankly, that we have a division that for 162 games, we get pushed. I think it helped us in the playoffs this year, frankly, that you get beat up in this division quite a bit. And then you walk into the playoffs, and you’re kind of used to it. So you can take some lumps, and you can lose 10-0 in a road game and then come back and win the next day. That’s the way I look at it, and I think this division, when it’s all said and done, is going to be again one of the toughest ones for us to compete in, and that’s great. We’re ready for that.”
Hazen has been very public about accepting responsibility for not acquiring an additional starting pitcher at the 2023 trade deadline. In making moves like this one, he is telling his team as well as fans that he won’t make that mistake again. Think of it as an act of accountability — and as a promise that this team, following Gallen’s advice, isn’t scared and isn’t staying home.
Oh, and they’re not done yet.
As Bob Nightengale reports:
Will it be JD Martinez or Justin Turner or Rhys Hoskins? Who knows? But there’s more.
When the Diamondbacks signed Rodriguez, owner Ken Kendrick said the team was not done spending, and he meant it. As of now, the team has a franchise record $140 million payroll.
It’s a good time to be a D-backs fan.