Designated hitter options still on the free agent market for the Arizona Diamondbacks to pursue

The Arizona Diamondbacks still need to find a designated hitter, so who is still out there for them to go after?

Oct 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28)
Oct 7, 2023; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter J.D. Martinez (28) / Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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Aug 22, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) rounds
Aug 22, 2023; San Diego, California, USA; Miami Marlins designated hitter Jorge Soler (12) rounds / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Full-time regulars

J.D. Martinez is arguably the biggest DH option still out there. Martinez batted .271/.321/.571 with a .369 wOBA and 135 wRC+. The former Boston Red Sox changed his approach at the plate, going for power and launch angle at the expense of his plate discipline. His 7.1% walk rate was his worst since 2014, and this was the first time he struck out over 30% in his career. But he posted career highs in exit velocity (93.4 MPH) and hard-hit rate (54.8%) and nearly matched a career-high in launch angle (16.8 degrees). Martinez missed a few weeks in August but otherwise played most of the season.

While Martinez’s rise in strikeouts and lower walk rate is slightly concerning, he did counteract it with a level of power he hasn’t hit for since 2017. There were only three batters with a higher ISO than Martinez in 450+ plate appearances. Those three were Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, and Matt Olson.

If Martinez isn’t the biggest DH free agent still available, then it’s Jorge Soler. Soler rebounded after a rough 2022 season to bat .250/.341/.512 across 580 plate appearances. Soler’s 11.4% walk rate was the highest since his 2016 season. Meanwhile, he struck out 24.3% of the time, slugging 36 home runs and having a .262 isolated slugging percentage. This all came to a 126 wRC+. Soler was also elite in hard-hit rate (48%), exit velocity (91.3 MPH), and barrel rate (15%). Soler occasionally plays the field but has never been a good corner outfield glove. His innings in the outfield have steadily decreased in the last three seasons.

This was Soler’s best season with the bat since 2019. Not only did he post good numbers overall, but these were his best raw power numbers (exit velo, hard-hit rate, barrel rate) since his 2019 season with the Kansas City Royals.

A strong rebound candidate to consider is Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins missed the entirety of the 2023 season after tearing his ACL in Spring Training. But the last time he played in 2022 was another quality season in his long resume. The first baseman batted .246/.332/.462 with a .345 wOBA, and 122 wRC+. Hoskins went yard 30 times and had a .216 ISO. But this was a down year for him, power-wise. That happened to be the lowest ISO of his career thus far. Hoskins also walked at an above-average rate of 10.7% with a 25.1% strikeout rate. While Hoskins has never been a full-time DH, his defense at first base has never been great, and coming off a serious leg injury, it would probably be best if his time in the field was limited.

Of the best full-time regular DH options still on the market, I’d lean toward Martinez. Not only are the D-Backs already familiar with him, but he’s consistently been an above-average hitter since 2014. Last year was his best season since his peak 2017-2019 stretch, and he made enough adjustments to avoid a harsh aging curve, in my opinion. Jorge Soler is inconsistent with a streak health track record, and while I wouldn’t be opposed to Hoskins, he’s still a risk because of his massive injury last year.