Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen listed adding some right-handed help to his lineup as an area of focus back in early October, and much of the team’s pursuits to this point in the offseason have reflected that desire to balance out a heavily left-handed lineup. Arizona has already bought low on 2020 AL Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis, and Jon Heyman of the New York Post reports that they’ve spoken to veteran corner infielders Evan Longoria and Justin Turner as well (Twitter links).
Arizona currently has left-handed bats as its primary options across the outfield (Jake McCarthy, Corbin Carroll, Daulton Varsho, Alek Thomas), at third base (Josh Rojas) and likely at designated hitter (Pavin Smith, Seth Beer). The Snakes aren’t devoid of righty-swinging options, as switch-hitting Ketel Marte provides a strong right-handed presence, as does first baseman Christian Walker. Catcher Carson Kelly and shortstop Nick Ahmed are both generally light-hitting options, but both righties at least have above-average career marks against left-handed pitching.
That contingent of righties wasn’t enough to make the 2022 D-backs anywhere close to passable against left-handed pitching, however. As a team, the Diamondbacks batted .227/.292/.363 against left-handed pitching in 2022, and the resulting 83 wRC+ ranked 28th in baseball, leading only the Pirates (81) and Marlins (71). The aforementioned Lewis might be a slight upgrade over some in-house options, if healthy, but that’s a substantial “if” — and he’s had reverse platoon splits to this point in his career anyhow.
Both Longoria and Turner, however, would represent marked upgrades to that glaring team deficiency against lefties. Longoria, 37, hit .282/.333/.479 against southpaws in 2022 and has tormented left-handed pitchers with a .281/.359/.509 slash throughout his 15 Major League seasons. The 38-year-old Turner, meanwhile, posted a .275/.349/.389 slash against left-handers in 2022 and has a .276/.358/.460 output against them throughout the duration of his own 14-year career in the Majors.
At this point in their careers, neither Longoria nor Turner is likely viewed as an everyday option at third base. Both played fewer than 600 innings at the position in 2022, although injuries to each played a role in that limited defensive work. Still, Turner spent half of his 128 games at designated hitter, while Longoria spent about 20% of his time serving as a DH with the Giants last year. Both players once drew strong defensive marks at the hot corner but have seen them dwindle in recent seasons. Turner drew slightly negative marks in each of Defensive Runs Saved (-1), Ultimate Zone Rating (-2.1) and Outs Above Average (-2), while Longoria was dinged by DRS (-4) but credited as a scratch defender in the eyes of both UZR and OAA. Even if neither is viewed as a full-time option at third, either Longoria or Turner could split time with Rojas while also logging regular work as the D-backs’ designated hitter.
Beyond their inquiries into veteran corner infielders, the D-backs have been on the hunt for catching help throughout the winter. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the names to which they’ve been primarily connected — A’s catcher Sean Murphy and free agent Christian Vazquez — both hit from the right side of the dish.
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