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A Closer Look at The Eugenio Suarez Trade

Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The first big move of the offseason, and I don't believe that Hazen has received enough credit from many of the Dbacks faithful for what he was able to do or the potential adding Eugenio Suarez creates for this team. Much like the 1985 Angus MacGyver, Hazen seemingly solves one of the organizations biggest problems with not much more than a paperclip and a rubber band. Allow me the opportunity to elaborate.

To fully appreciate what Hazen was able to do, we need to be able to better appreciate what Eugenio Suarez brings to this team from a value standpoint. People are quick to point to the strikeouts and the drop in power from Suarez in 2023, but I believe this move adds way more value than people may realize.

When evaluating this move for Arizona from an offensive perspective, I think it would be most helpful to compare the Dbacks lineup now vs where it was last season. How are we right now compared to where we were in 2023 from an offensive perspective? You may have already looked at my table and are wondering why and the heck is this guy comparing Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Eugenio Suarez? Essentially excluding DH, we are down a Gurriel Jr and have added a Eugenio Suarez. Especially considering Gurriel got the majority of his at bats in the middle of the order. So to better understand the effect of adding Suarez to our lineup lets compare the two:

Stat

Suarez

Gurriel Jr.

wRC+

102

106

WAR

3.2

2.1

K%

30.8

17.4

BB%

10.1

5.6

wGDP

0.7

-2.2

You notice that I chose to use mostly rate stats above. This is to help better reduce the discrepancy in playing time in 2023.

The Approach

When looking at the rate stats specifically, it becomes obvious the difference in approach between the two. Compared to Gurriel, what Suarez loses in the strikeout department. This is what Suarez gets the most criticism for, the strikeouts. However, people may be a little to hard on him for this.

Suarez gets penalized in the court of public opinion because he was second in the league in strikeouts at 214. But why penalize a guy who was 1 of only 4 to play in all 162 games? In an era where many players struggle to stay on the field, durability should be rewarded. Yes he had more strikeouts than Matt Chapman by almost 50, but from a rate standpoint Suarez only leads by just 2% compared to the prize of the free agent market at third base. Yes he struck out more in 2023 than 2022, but his strikeout rate actually dropped from 31.2% in 2022.

When compared to Gurriel, he makes up for the strikeouts almost exactly in the walk department by having almost double the walk rate. Because of this and even with the strikeouts, Suarez was on base more often and has the higher OBP at .323 compared to Gurriel’s .309.

There is nothing worse to kill a rally than a double play ball. Especially from the middle of the order after the top of the order did its job and got on base. One of the other major differences in approach between the two is seen in wGDP. Suarez grades out at above average in this department whereas Gurriel grades out as poor borderline awful at -2.2. Gurriel’s groundball rate of 43.1% definitely hurt this team in 2023. Especially when you have as much traffic on the bases as the Dbacks do. Suarez actually had the third lowest ground ball rate among qualified third basemen last season. Less double plays out of the heart of the order should definitely help this team in 2024.

Conclusion

Hopefully by comparing Suarez to a hitter the Dbacks fans know well and how he impacted the lineup last season, you can see that from an offensive production standpoint (wRC+) they actually grade out pretty similarly. Hopefully this has also been able to ease some of your concerns about the strikeouts when you realize the middle of the order may actually get on base more and hit into much less double plays.

Obviously, the biggest advantage Suarez has to Gurriel is that he plays third base. The Dbacks had one of the lowest offensive contributions from third base in baseball this year at just 75 wRC+. This move allows Mike Hazen the opportunity to really bolster the offense by adding to one of the most offensively deep positions in the game, the outfield. There wasn’t an outfield in baseball last season that had a lower wRC+ than 82. My point being even if Hazen does absolutely nothing to address the outfield that was exactly average in terms of wRC+ at 100 last season, the production would almost certainly be greater than what they got from third base last season.

By giving up a catcher that was DFA’d in September by the White Sox and a relief pitcher project that we acquired for Ross Carver (6.57 ERA in 2023) last season, Hazen still has plenty to work with in terms of trade capital. Its actually pretty crazy when you realize that Hazen just used his magic to essentially turn Ross Carver and a September DFA into Eugenio Suarez. Hazen is a freaking MacGyver! Especially if you consider how much Suarez would be worth if he was currently a free agent.

In a very likely scenario, Suarez rebounds to being closer to his 2022 season where he hit 31 HR’s and was worth 130 wRC+ (126 wRC+ was tops in baseball as a team average at 3B in 2022) and they use their financial or trade capital to get an outfielder and a DH with above average offensive production. Even with half a season of Pham, the Dbacks finished in the bottom 6 in baseball at 93 wRC+ at a position whose sole purpose is offense. Given the resources Hazen still has, this shouldn’t be that difficult to accomplish.

Even if Suarez doesn’t return closer to his 2022 form and repeats 2023 production, and there is no improvement from the young guys, if Hazen added a league average offensive outfielder (100 wRC+) and signed JD Martinez (135 wRC+) at DH, this team would average 106 wRC+ compared to below league average 97 in 2023. For context that would put this team just ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies at 9th in MLB. Don't even get me started on how much sense it makes to bring JD Martinez back! He could be next years Evan Longoria, in terms of a veteran presence. And might I add, I have never seen so much red on a Baseball savant page. Not only that he definitely still has quite the fanbase as I saw his jersey all over Chase Field at the world series. Make it happen Hazen!