What Does Buying Big Look Like for the Arizona Diamondbacks?

After their World Series run, the Arizona Diamondbacks should be aggressive in their pursuit of top free agents to bolster their roster.

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - OCTOBER 31: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. #12 of the Arizona Diamondbacks celebrates with teammates after hitting a home run in the eighth inning against the Texas Rangers during Game Four of the World Series at Chase Field on October 31, 2023 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

When it comes to answering the question of whether or not the Arizona Diamondbacks will be big spends this offseason, let’s start by looking back to general manager Mike Hazen’s postseason presser the morning after his team had just lost the World Series to the Texas Rangers.

Hazen said the D-backs would have the following offseason priorities:

  • Acquire at least one veteran pitcher for the starting rotation
  • Look externally to strengthen third base and add some right-handed hitters
  • Perhaps add to the bullpen

We know, two, that the D-backs’ owner, Ken Kendrick, has said the team would increase payroll in 2024.

On Wednesday, the D-backs acted to address their issues at third. First, they traded with the Seattle Mariners for Eugenio Suárez. Later in the day, Jon Heyman posted that the D-backs had signed free agent Andrés Chaparro, a recent New York Yankee who had declared free agency earlier in the month. (Read more about Chaparro here.)

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So, in a very Hazen-esque way, the D-backs have probably made their third-base additions (for now). Given that they only paid $11 million in acquiring Suárez rather than shelling out, say, $150 million for Matt Chapman, Hazen probably has much of his free-agent budget intact.

This raises an interesting question: If the D-backs go all in, what would that look like?

Here are some ideas.

They bring back Lourdes Gurriel Jr.

All-Star outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. was a great fit with the D-backs, who became an impact player in Phoenix. He hit 24 homers, earned a 109 wRC+, and became a 2.1 fWAR player, slashing .261/.309/.463.

In addition, he accumulated 14 DRS, making him a solid part of an outstanding D-backs outfield.

Plus, he fit in well with the clubhouse culture that the D-backs work so hard to cultivate. And there’s the purple hair. (Look, élan matters.)

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MLB Trade Rumors predicts the 30 year old will get a four-year, $54 million contract. If the D-backs go all in, look for them to bring back Gurriel Jr.

They become players in the Yoshinobu Yamamoto signing race

Every team in baseball can use Yoshinobu Yamamoto. He’s only 25 years old and is currently projected as a frontline No. 1 or No. 2 starter in the big leagues. Guys with that level of promise, at that extremely young age, just never hit the open market like this.

Kodai Senga had great success making the transition from the NPB this past season, and Yamamoto is an even better pitcher. He’s had a 1.44 ERA since 2021. MLB Trade Rumors predicts he’ll get nine years, $229 million, so the price tag is going to be very high, particularly with so many teams in the race to sign him.

For anyone saying that the D-backs won’t spend, remember that this is a young team that might have won the World Series with another starting pitcher. They will spend significant money on starting pitching. (That tends to get overlooked in media narratives that focus on big-market teams.)

If the D-backs go all in, they should be willing to spend on Yamamoto. A rotation grounded in Zac Gallen, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Merrill Kelly, and Brandon Pfaadt is a serious rotation.

They sign Jordan Montgomery and Sonny Gray

The other possibility is that the D-backs spend on two starting pitchers — Hazen did not rule out acquiring more than one starter. In this case, Montgomery and Gray would make a nice combination.

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Montgomery would bring a much-needed left-handed pitcher to the D-backs’ rotation. In 2023, he showed himself to be a durable player. Since 2020, he’s started 94 games and earned a 3.94 ERA. Is he overpowering? No. But he’s an all-around solid pitcher (22.5% K% and a 6.2% BB%). 

Plus, the D-backs had plenty of opportunities to see him in action during the World Series, and they have a sense of how his stuff would play at Chase Field.

MLB Trade Rumors predicts Montgomery will get a six-year, $150 million contract. That’s a lot for a 30-year-old pitcher who’s had Tommy John surgery, but he would bring a consistent boost to the D-backs’ rotation.

A nice compliment, then, would be Sonny Gray, who is older and expected to get a shorter contract. (MLB Trade Rumors suggests four years, $90 million.) Gray is older at 34, but he’s coming off a season that left him a Cy Young finalist. A 2.79 ERA and giving up only eight home runs in 2023 would play at Chase Field.

Consider this rotation: Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly, Jordan Montgomery, Sonny Gray, and Brandan Pfaadt. If the D-backs go all in, that’s the kind of rotation they’ll bring into 2024.

Even to a lesser extent, landing either of Montgomery or Gray, along with a pitcher like Marcus Stroman or Eduardo Rodriguez could go a long way to solidifying the D-backs rotation behind Gallen and Kelly.

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While the national media is focused on the big-name organizations, but they’re consistently overlooking a hungry D-backs team. This could be the offseason where Hazen and company get very aggressive as they look to build off their storybook 2023 season to become a perennial contender.