The defending National League champions were among the most aggressive teams early in the offseason. They acquired Eugenio Suárez to address third base and fortified the rotation via a four-year, $80MM contract with Eduardo Rodríguez. Just before Christmas, they reunited with left fielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a three-year, $42MM guarantee.
Arizona hasn’t made a major league addition since finalizing their new contract with Gurriel a month ago. They’re not done, however. GM Mike Hazen has said a few times the Snakes are looking for a hitter they can plug in at the DH spot. He reiterated that in a chat with Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic not long after the new year, suggesting at the time they felt they were likelier to add another bat in free agency than through trade. While Arizona was focused primarily on right-handed hitters early in the winter, their deals with Suárez and Gurriel have balanced the lineup. Hazen indicated they’re considering DH options of either handedness at this point.
A few of their reported targets remain on the market. Some potential fits:
Right-Handed Free Agents
- J.D. Martinez: Martinez, who mashed in a two-month stint for Arizona at the end of the 2017 season, remains one of the more productive hitters in the majors. He’s coming off perhaps his best year since 2019. He blasted 33 home runs in only 479 plate appearances for the Dodgers a season ago. His .271/.321/.572 batting line was stellar and he turned in his highest hard contact rate (54.8%) of the Statcast era. The huge power production partially masks an uptick in whiffs, as he struck out at a career-high 31.1% clip. That’s a bit alarming, but teams would happily live with the strikeouts if they anticipate Martinez hitting for that kind of power again. Arizona was tied to Martinez, who did not receive a qualifying offer from L.A., in early December. The Blue Jays, Angels and Mets have also been tied to his market.
- Jorge Soler: Soler, 32 next month, drilled 36 homers for the Marlins a season ago. His .250/.341/.512 showing was a huge improvement on the .207/.295/.400 mark he turned in during his first year in Miami. Soler made the easy call to decline a $13MM player option in search of a multi-year pact. The Marlins decided not to issue a QO and, according to the slugger, haven’t shown any interest in a reunion. While Soler is one of the sport’s streakiest hitters, he’s near the top of the league in raw power. He draws plenty of walks and trimmed his strikeouts to a managable 24.3% clip last season. Soler should find at least two guaranteed years and has an argument for a three-year pact. Arizona checked in on his market in early December. They’ve been joined by the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Mariners in that regard (although Seattle is probably out of the mix after signing Mitch Garver and reacquiring Mitch Haniger).
- Justin Turner: Arizona has been linked to Turner in consecutive offseasons. Even at 39, he continues to produce at the plate. He’s coming off a .276/.345/.455 showing with 23 longballs in 626 trips to the dish for the Red Sox. His is a balanced offensive profile. He walks at an average rate, makes a decent amount of hard contact and remains very difficult to strike out (17.6% strikeout percentage last year). Turner is no longer capable of playing every day at third base, but he can factor in at either corner infield spot while logging the bulk of his at-bats at DH. Toronto, the incumbent Red Sox, and Mets have also been linked to him this winter.
- Rhys Hoskins: Hoskins is the only player in this group to whom the D-Backs haven’t been connected. Perhaps he’s simply not interested in signing as a full-time designated hitter. With Christian Walker at first base, the Snakes would have to push Hoskins into a bat-only role on most days. If he’s open to that possibility, Hoskins makes sense as one of the more consistent offensive players still on the market. The longtime Phillie missed last year after tearing his ACL in Spring Training. Between 2019-22, he hit .240/.349/.479 in more than 2000 trips to the plate. Philadelphia did not issue him a qualifying offer.
Left-Handed Platoon Bats
- Brandon Belt: While Arizona hasn’t been tied to Belt this offseason, that’s true of essentially everyone. There haven’t been any public revelations on his market despite his strong 2023 season in a platoon capacity for the Blue Jays. The longtime Giant hit .254/.369/.490 with 19 homers through 404 plate appearances. That came almost entirely against right-handed pitching, but he’s still a productive three-true-outcomes hitter when he holds the platoon advantage.
- Joc Pederson: Last year wasn’t a great showing for Pederson, who hit .235/.348/.416 with 15 homers across 425 trips for the Giants. That’s not what San Francisco envisioned when extending him a near-$20MM qualifying offer last winter. Pederson won’t come close to that kind of salary this time around. Still, he’s only a year removed from a .274/.353/.521 line. Pederson continues to post hard contact rates near the top of the league and has five 20-homer seasons on his résumé.
While Hazen indicated a free agent pursuit was likelier than a trade, they’re not going to close off the latter market entirely. If they don’t find an agreeable price point with any of their targets on the open market, there are a few speculative possibilities on the trade front.
- Eloy Jiménez: Jiménez is a right-handed hitter who has flashed 30-homer power upside. His career has been interrupted by frequent injuries, including extended absences in 2021 and ’22 (for a ruptured pectoral tendon and a hamstring tendon tear, respectively). Last year was only the second time in his career that he surpassed 100 games. It was also among his least productive seasons, as he hit .272/.317/.441 with 18 homers through 489 plate appearances. Jiménez will make $13MM next year and is guaranteed a $3MM buyout on the first of two club options for 2025-26. The Sox reportedly haven’t found much interest on the trade market as a result.
- Harold Ramírez: The Rays have floated Ramírez in trade discussions as a potential sell-high candidate. The 29-year-old had an impressive .313/.353/.460 showing last year. He’s up to a .306/.348/.432 slash in nearly 900 plate appearances since Tampa Bay acquired him on the eve of the 2022 season. That production is built around a batting average on balls in play above .350 as opposed to prototypical DH power. While that and an aggressive offensive approach could give some teams pause, he’s a high-contact righty hitter with gap power and the ability to take the ball to all fields. Ramírez is on track to go to an arbitration hearing with Tampa Bay to determine his 2024 salary. He filed at $4.3MM, while the team countered at $3.8MM. He’ll be eligible for arbitration once more after that.
- Brent Rooker: Rooker, 29, turned in a career year for the A’s. Claimed off waivers from Kansas City last offseason, he popped 30 homers with a .246/.329/.488 showing in 526 plate appearances. The right-handed hitter posted excellent numbers against southpaws (.279/.354/.519) and acceptable production versus same-handed arms (.230/.316/.472). He struck out in nearly a third of his trips but tapped into the huge raw power that made him the 35th overall pick in the 2017 draft. Rooker is still a year from arbitration and under club control for four seasons. The A’s don’t have any urgency to trade him, but they probably wouldn’t consider him a core piece of their long-term rebuild given his age and defensive limitations.