Skip to main content

D-backs GM Mike Hazen Reacts to Lourdes Gurriel Signing

Hazen explained the negotiation process and next steps, emphasizing there is still a lot of work to do to compete in the division.

The Diamondbacks made it official today, announcing the signing of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. to a three year contract, with a fourth year option.  As part of the give and take of the negotiation process, general manager Mike Hazen said the fourth year option was agreed to after Gurriel's team pushed for him to have an opt-out after the second year. As previously reported the terms call for $42 million guaranteed, with $10 million of that being paid in 2024.  The team also made a corresponding move, designating infielder Diego Castillo for assignment. Castillo appeared in one game for the Diamondbacks in 2023. The 40-man roster is at 40.

In his first year with the Diamondbacks following a trade with the Toronto Blue Jays last December, Gurriel had a solid season both at the plate and in the field.  In his age 29 season he hit .261/.309/.463, .772 OPS with 24 homers and 82 RBI.  In just under 800 innings in the outfield he registered +14 defensive runs saved according to Baseball Reference, although a more modest +3 defensive runs according to Baseball Savant's Statcast based metrics.  

Speaking with Hazen this morning, he emphasized what a good fit the right handed Gurriel was and will continue to be. "He was a natural fit....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"

Back in early October the Diamondbacks met with Gurriel's representation to change the language of his old original contract that would have precluded the team from negotiating with him or re-signing him well into the 2024 season. By changing the language of the contract they then had equal negotiating rights with everybody else. The type of contract language discussed is not unique to Gurriel, but getting it changed was a clear signal the team wanted the option to bring him back next year. They met several times during the off season and things came together pretty quickly last week. 

In fact Hazen had his sights set on Gurriel all along. "He was the top target of ours because the left field market for us, especially the right handed hitting left field market, given the construction of our outfield being all left-handed right now, that made him a priority target for us going into this negotiation."  

On follow up Hazen gave an interesting answer regarding next steps. It had been discussed and assumed that the team would still pursue yet another right-handed hitter to fill the DH spot.  Hazen is still looking to add to the lineup, but with the addition of both Eugenio Suarez and now Gurriel, things appear to have changed. "I think now we have flexibility if we're going to add more to the offense we could do it either righty or lefty", Hazen said. 

This additional player will ideally be more bat oriented, although Hazen would like to have some potential position flexibility if possible.  The bat is the priority however. "I think we have enough positional flexibility to take on more of an offensive profile", he said.   This kind of language likely means that a pure DH such as J.D. Martinez is still on the table, but the positional flexibility of some of the other bats on the market would be considered a bonus. 

Hazen does not feel like all the "heavy lifting" of this offseason has been completed. "I feel like we've certainly added to our team on paper starting out next season, we're going to be in a very similar if not slightly better position with what we started out 2023 with."  According to projections at Inside the Diamondbacks, the team currently sits with about an 85 win projection as it stands today. 

Hazen is aware that's not going to be enough. "I think the competitiveness within our division will still require us to continue to upgrade the roster in any way we can" In addition to looking for another bat for the lineup, Hazen said that the team will still be adding to both the bullpen and catching depth. We should expect more moves such as the recent waiver wire pickup of reliever Collin Snider or free agent signing of minor league free agent Ronaldo Hernandez.  Hazen went a step further, stating there would be a competition behind starter Gabriel Moreno for the backup catcher's spot. 

While declining to comment specifically on the Dodgers spending, Hazen expressed appreciation for the commitment from ownership in granting him a record setting payroll. Now in the area of $140 million, payroll has already exceeded the previous record $131M set in 2018.  "It's incredible", he said.   "If we prove that we have a winning team that is going onto the field than we will have more to invest into the team."