The Diamondbacks do not have a good answer right now at designated hitter. MLB.com doesn’t list a single player as the Diamondbacks’ DH, ESPN has Jace Peterson as the team’s best DH option, and FanGraphs has Dominic Fletcher in their projected D-Backs line-up. Needless to say, it’s not a pretty picture. But one of the top trade candidates who could get moved this off-season is DH/LF Eloy Jimenez.
Eloy Jimenez didn’t hit poorly last year; he just didn’t live up to the expectations set upon him, sort of like Cease (and the rest of the White Sox). In 489 plate appearances, Jimenez batted .272/.317/.441 with a 105 wRC+. Jimenez had 18 home runs, only struck out 19% of the time, and had a .325 wOBA. Jimenez has never been one to walk much and only had a 6.1% walk rate.
Again, these numbers aren’t bad by any means. But a look at what he did in about a half-season in 2022 and they pale in comparison. In 327 PAs, Jimenez batted .295/.358/.500 with a .370 wOBA, and 143 wRC+. He was nearly 40% better of a hitter in 2022 than he was in 2023. He also had a 123 wRC+ from his strong 2019 rookie season up through ‘23.
When Jimenez is healthy, he can be one of the best hitters in baseball. The key note here is ‘when he’s healthy.’ Jimenez has topped out at 122 games in any season thus far, and that was his rookie campaign. His ‘19 rookie season is still the only year he has come to the plate at least 500 times.
Jimenez has steadily seen his work in the outfield decrease over time. The amount of injuries he has had and a lack of defensive prowess to start with have led him to being a DH-only candidate. Throughout his career, he has -18 defensive runs saved and -19 outs above average. Last season, he only saw 109.2 innings in right field, the first time he has ever played in right and played 104 games at DH.
Jimenez has only one more year of guaranteed control left. Next season, he will make $13,833,334 but then has a team option valued at $16.5 million with a $3 million buyout. If that is picked up, then he has a second team option for 2026 at $18.5 million with another $3 million buyout. Of course, if Jimenez can hit like we know he can, he could be a steal at that price. The buyouts do give whichever team who acquires him some flexibility. While Jimenez may not bring the durability that either Randy or Cease bring, he is relatively affordable for one year, and if he can stay healthy and have a good season, you can bring him back for a decent price.