For right-handed power, the Arizona Diamondbacks turn to Suarez

PHOENIX – At first glance, the acquisition of third baseman Eugenio Suarez by the Arizona Diamondbacks appears to clearly strengthen a weak position. In the longer sense, this move may be viewed as nothing but expedient and another venture into a recurring revolving door syndrome.

Sure, the Diamondbacks had limited production at third base over the past several seasons. Even in 2023 and advancing into the deepest part of Major League baseball’s post-season and the World Series, the weakness was glaring.

Between Evan Longoria, Emmauel Rivera, Josh Rojas and Jace Peterson, limited offense was generated. In an aggregate number between Longoria, Peterson and Rivera, these three players hit .179 in 174 post-season plate appearances. During the regular season, these three, in 661 combined plate appearances, hit a combined .234 with 10 home runs and 64 RBIs.

In prying Suarez, who is 32 years old, from Seattle on the day before Thanksgiving for catcher Seby Zavala and right-handed reliever Carlos Vargas, the Diamondbacks believe they secured a power bat, strong clubhouse leadership, and improved defense.

“We have been looking for an everyday third baseman,” Arizona general manager Mike Hazen told “We feel like this is a guy that adds the power element, good defender, everyday player in a position that we’ve been platooning for a few years now. I think it adds a little stability to that spot. And an incredible clubhouse guy. This is somebody we’ve liked for a long time, and we feel like it’s a natural fit given what our team is looking for.”

Arriving in the desert, Suarez, who hits right-handed comes with a history of power and liability.

In 10 major league seasons with Detroit, Cincinnati, and Seattle, Suarez has a career .232 batting average with 246 homers and 730 RBIs. In a career 2019 season, he hit .271 (second highest in his career) with 49 homers and drove in 103 runs. Also in that season, he struck out 189 times and led the National League.

In his career, Suarez fanned 1,442 times in 4,661 at-bats, or about once for every four at-bats. Still, his once lethal bat, and improved defensive metrics at third base provide the necessary stopgap from which Hazen seeks.

In acquiring Suarez, the Diamondbacks are left with several moving parts.

Consider –

  • Contract

Suarez is signed to earn $11 million in 2024 and $15 million if the Diamondbacks pick up an option for the 2025 season. If Arizona declines, then there is a $2 million buyout.

  • Hazen’s approach

The quest for veteran help does not naturally fall into Hazen’s baseball personality. Traditionally, he favors younger players and years away from free agency. In that regard, the club controls players for a significant period of time and represents a strong development posture for success on the diamond.

When considering to upgrade at third base, Hazen likely dusted off pages from the Diamondbacks’ history book.

Here, he found a contract negotiated with left-hander Madison Bumgarner. On Dec. 17, 2019, Hazen agreed to a five-year deal at $85 million. Released by the Diamondbacks in April 2023, Bumgarner was paid $18 million for the remainder of that season and owed $14 million for the 2024 season. The contract also allows for deferred payments. Here, Bumgarner will receive $5 million in each of 2025, 2026, and 2027 from the Diamondbacks.

With that kind of money for a player who grossly underachieve, Hazen is likely aware of this financial consequence.

Enter Matt Chapman. In addition to the availability of Suarez, Chapman, also a third baseman, is an option.

Entering free agency, Chapman, who will be 31 years old next April 28, and seven years of major league service, has a career .240 batting, 155 home runs, and 426 RBIs with Oakland and Toronto. In 2023, Chapman earned $12.5 million, and rumors indicate Chapman may be asking for a six-year deal worth $156 million or more.

If Hazen is likely influenced from the recent Bumgarner deal, and eschewing any approach to sign Chapman, then the $11 million for Suarez for at least one season appears to be a bargain.

  • The 2024 infield

With Suarez a lock at third, this gives Jordan Lawler and 2023 first-round pick Tommy Troy time to develop. While both were drafted as shortstops, the Diamondbacks’ penchant for versatility among players could be a factor. Either, or both, Lawler and Troy could develop as third basemen. Power-hitting first baseman and prospect Ivan Melendez could emerge, within two years, as the DH of the future.

The Suarez deal is another in the odd history between Hazen and Jerry Dipoto, the Seattle general manager. In previous trades between the two GMs, Hazen acquired infielder Ketel Marte in Nov. 2016, closer Paul Sewald in 2023, 2020 AL rookie of the year Kyle Lewis in 2022, and pitcher Mike Leake in 2019.

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