The Diamondbacks are reportedly in agreement with outfielder Lourdes Gurriel Jr. on a new contract, per Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The deal, which is pending a physical, is for three years and $42M according to ESPN’s Jeff Passan and Kiley McDaniel. The deal includes an opt-out after the second season and a club option for a fourth season, which MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports is worth $14M. Gurriel played in Arizona in 2023 after joining the club alongside catcher Gabriel Moreno in the trade that sent Daulton Varsho to the Blue Jays.
Gurriel, 30, made his first career All-Star appearance in 2023 thanks in large part to a blistering month of May during which Gurriel slashed .352/.416/.714. That production proved to be something of an outlier for the outfielder, however, as he fell back to earth in the surrounding months with a sub-.700 OPS in each of April, June, and July which left him with an overall slash line of just .246/.294/.445 in 388 trips to the plate entering the month of August. Gurriel managed to turn things back around down the stretch, however, with a .287/.335/.492 slash line in his final 200 trips to the plate during the regular season. He also performed decently (93 wRC+) in 70 trips to the plate during Arizona’s postseason run, including a .333/.350/.500 slash line against the Rangers during the World Series.
Despite Gurriel’s uneven performance in 2023, he’s been a steadily above-average bat throughout his career with an above-average wRC+ every year since he debuted in the majors back in 2018. Since becoming an everyday player during the shortened 2020 season, Gurriel has slashed .279/.326/.456 with a wRC+ of 112. He also receives strong marks for his defense in left field, including a +14 Defensive Runs Saves with Arizona last season. While Gurriel managed just five homers in 121 games with the Blue Jays in 2022, he rediscovered his power stroke with the Diamondbacks last year, clubbing 24 home runs to go along with 35 doubles, both of which were career-best figures. If he can maintain that power output while bouncing back from a career-worst .282 BABIP last season, it’s possible Gurriel can unlock another level of offensive potential as he enters his thirties.
Given the dearth of consistent offensive options available on the free agent market this offseason, it’s not a shock that Gurriel was able to land a healthy guarantee. The total guarantee of $42M clocked in $12M below the four-year, $54M contract MLBTR projected Gurriel for when placing him 14th on our annual Top 50 MLB free agents list, though it’s worth noting that the average annual value of the deal is, by contrast, higher than we projected. While Gurriel is largely limited to left field defensively and has not yet posted truly impactful offensive numbers over a full season as an everyday player, his consistency and potential upside make him a worthwhile investment for an Arizona club that was looking to add to its outfield mix this offseason.
Looking ahead to 2024, Gurriel profiles as the club’s everyday left fielder where he’ll likely patrol the outfield alongside Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll, with the likes of Jake McCarthy and Dominic Fletcher as depth options behind the starting trio. It’s worth noting that Gurriel is the only right-handed bat in that outfield mix and could help the club’s outfield produce against left-handers, who he slashed an impressive .301/.363/.452 against last season. Arizona struggled badly against left-handed pitching in 2023, with a collective wRC+ of just 92 that ranked eighth-worst among all major league clubs. Retaining Gurriel should help alleviate that flaw, particularly given the club’s addition of third baseman Eugenio Suarez.
It’s been a busy offseason for the Diamondbacks, who inked left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez to a four-year deal earlier this month in addition to the aforementioned trade for Suarez and now a reunion with Gurriel. While RosterResource projects the Gurriel contract to take the club’s 2024 payroll into uncharted territory with a $140M figure, it appears that the club does not intend to slow down from here. Passan suggests the club still plans on adding a power-hitting DH to their lineup before the offseason comes to a close, while USA Today’s Bob Nightengale specifically denotes the club’s interest in right-handed veterans J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner. Jorge Soler is another name the club has been connected to in recent weeks that could fill that role.