Arizona Diamondbacks free agent targets to platoon at designated hitter

The Arizona Diamondbacks signed Joc Pederson, but may need to find a platoon mate on the free agent market.

Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels
Cleveland Guardians v Los Angeles Angels / Kevork Djansezian/GettyImages

The Arizona Diamondbacks recently signed Joc Pederson to be one of their options at designated hitter. But over the last two seasons, nearly 90% of his plate appearances have come against right-handed pitching. That’s because he typically struggles against lefties. He is a career .209/.293/.329 hitter against same-handed pitching. Because of that, the D-Backs will probably need to find a platoon mate for Pederson. So, what potential options are out there for the D-Backs to go after?

Garrett Cooper is one of the better 1Bs left on the market. The first baseman was a very solid contributor for the Miami Marlins from 2019 through 2022 but struggled to the tune of a .251/.304/.419 triple-slash and 96 wRC+ for Miami and the San Diego Padres. But he hit extremely well against left-handed pitching. He mashed lefties for a .324/.375/.529 line and 145 wRC+. Career-wise, he has a .816 OPS against lefties vs a .756 OPS vs righties. Cooper would also be a better backup option at first base over Pavin Smith and Emanuel Rivera.

Randal Grichuk would be another good potential option. Grichuck turned in a solid .267/.319/.459 line and 100 wRC+ for the Colorado Rockies and LA Angels in 2023. Grichuck has always been a decent power hitter and had a .199 ISO and 16 homers in 471 plate appearances. Last year in 134 plate appearances vs lefty pitchers, Grichuck batted .328/.399/.607 with a 155 wRC+. He rarely struck out with a 12.7% K-rate with an above-average 9% BB%. Grichuck would also provide a solid 4th outfield option.

Another player who could serve as both a 4th outfielder and DH platoon is Aaron Hicks. Hicks got off to a horrible start with the NY Yankees, where he batted just .188/.263/.261 in his first 76 plate appearances of the season. But once he was let go and picked up by the Baltimore Orioles, things seemed to go for the better as he finished the year slashing .275/.381/.425 in his final 236 plate appearances. While only 74 of his plate appearances were against lefties, he still racked up 22 total hits, including five extra-base hits, 11 walks, and only 16 strikeouts.

The Diamondbacks should consider going after a platoon-capable free agent.

Although Robbie Grossman is a switch-hitter, he’s probably best suited to mostly face lefties. Grossman batted .238/.340/.394 with a 102 wRC+ in 420 plate appearances. Grossman’s 13.6% walk rate marks the eighth season in a row his BB% has been over 10%. 137 of his plate appearances came against LHP, where he batted .309/.416/.536 with a 158 wRC+.

The most consistent batter against LHPs among this group is either Grichuk or Grossman. Grichuck has six seasons where he has faced lefties in 100+ plate appearances with an above-average wRC+. Grossman has done the same five times, but his wRC+ hasn’t dipped below 135 vs. LHP in the last three seasons. At times, Cooper has hit righties better than lefties, and so has Hicks.

Both Grichuk and Grossman had very similar numbers vs LHP in 2023 as well. Grossman had a .952 OPS, .403 wOBA, and 158 wRC+, while Grichuk had a .995 OPS, .415 wOBA, and 155 wRC+. They are also comparable career-wise, as Grichuk has a .822 OPS vs. LHP, and Grossman has a .808 OPS vs. LHP. Grossman, however, has more familiarity with a part-time DH role. Grichuk has appeared as a DH 43 times in his career. Grossman saw 40 games as a DH last season.

But between the two, I’d rather see the Diamondbacks sign Grossman as the platoon for Pederson. The only thing that Grichuk brings of significantly more value is the ability to play center field occasionally. But how often are the D-Backs going to be without both Alek Thomas and Corbin Carroll? Plus, with Jorge Barrosa and Dominic Fletcher on the 40-man roster, they don’t absolutely need a 4th outfielder who can play up the middle. Both Grichuk and Grossman are below-average defenders with about the same speed. But because Grossman has more experience as a DH, I think he makes a better fit as a platoon player if the D-Backs choose to pursue someone on the free agent market.