Two starting pitchers the Arizona Diamondbacks have been connected to

The Arizona Diamondbacks have been rumored to be looking into these two veteran starting pitchers.

Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Seth Lugo (67)
Sep 26, 2023; San Francisco, California, USA; San Diego Padres starting pitcher Seth Lugo (67) / Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

The Winter Meetings have been relatively slow thus far. There have been a couple of deals made, but nothing major. But with the last day upon us, we could see some significant action. The Arizona Diamondbacks haven’t done much this off-season, making only one significant move, acquiring veteran third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the Seattle Mariners.

However, the Diamondbacks have been connected to two starting pitchers this week. The Snakes definitely need at least one more starter behind Brandon Pfaadt in the rotation, so solidifying the starting pitching staff is something Mike Hazen and co. will need to address this off-season. But who are the two starters that the D-Backs have been rumored to be interested in?

Seth Lugo

The first pitcher is Seth Lugo, whom Jon Heyman reported that the D-Backs showed interest in earlier this off-season. 2023 was the first season of Lugo’s MLB career, where he spent the entire season in the starting rotation. Despite mostly pitching in a long-relief/swingman role prior to his one-year tenure with the San Diego Padres, Lugo took the role by the horns and was a very solid starting pitcher.

In 146.1 innings, Lugo owned a 3.57 ERA, 3.83 FIP, and 1.20 WHIP. The right-hander had an above-average 23% strikeout rate, 6% walk rate, and 1.17 HR/9. However, Lugo was below average in limiting hard contact. He was in just the 23rd percentile of barrel rate, the 10th percentile of exit velocity, and the 15th percentile of hard-hit rate. All were career-worst marks. At the very least, Lugo somewhat made up for it with an above-average 45.4% ground ball rate.

While ERA estimator numbers weren’t as kind to Lugo as his bottom line ERA suggests, they were still decent and point to a solid starter. He had a 3.97 SIERA, 3.76 xFIP, and a 91 DRA-, compared to an ERA- of 86. Lugo is exactly the type of stalwart the Diamondbacks need.

Going into the off-season, MLB Trade Rumors pinned Lugo to make an affordable $42 million across three years, coming out to $14 million a season. The Diamondbacks aren’t the only team connected to Lugo. The Boston Red Sox have also been heavily connected to the right-hander. The division rival Los Angeles Dodgers have also shown interest in Lugo this off-season as well.

Lucas Giolito

Lucas Gioltio’s season was all over the place. After a solid start to the year with the Chicago White Sox, Giolito looked like he got things back on track after a rough 2022 season. But he then struggled mightily with the LA Angels and Cleveland Guardians in August and September. While his 2022 and 2023 seasons have been up and down, he certainly is one of the biggest bounce-back candidates on the market.

Prior to getting traded, Giolito owned a 3.79 ERA, 4.43 FIP, and 1.22 WHIP. The right-hander had a solid 25.7% K-rate and 8.3% walk rate; however, struggled with home runs with a 1.49 HR/9 rate. Even these numbers are slightly inflated from a few bad starts. On April 7th, he allowed seven earned runs in just four innings against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then, on July 18th, he allowed eight more ER in less innings, 3.2 to be exact. Despite these two outings only making up about 15% of his total IP with the Sox, they made up nearly 30% of his total ER allowed. Outside of these two games, he had an ERA of 2.86, with a FIP clocking in at 3.85.

Regardless, the home stretch to 2023 was not fun for Gioltio. In his last 63.1 innings on the year, the former all-star worked to a 6.96 ERA, 6.87 FIP, and 1.48 WHIP. Giolito still struck out just over a quarter of the batters he faced with a 25.4% K-rate, but his walk rate shot up to 10.8%, and more worrisome was his HR/9 skyrocketing to nearly three home runs (2.98, to be exact). Some of this is because of some bad flyball luck. Even though he saw his exit velocity and hard-hit rate go in the right direction, his HR/FB ratio was an insane 26.3% rate. That’s higher than Barry Bonds’ career HR/FB ratio.

MLB Trade Rumors is generous in their prediction with Giolito, having him sign for two years at $44 million. The right-hander could very well rebound to his 2019-2021 peak, however $22 million after his horrible second half seems like a bit much. I think he will sign for one year, around $14-$16 million, with a second-year player option. This would give him the opportunity to re-enter the free agent market if he rebounds.