PHOENIX -- Location has been a selling point the D-backs have long used with free agents. Sign with us, they would say, and you won’t have to uproot yourself or your family for Spring Training.
With the Phoenix area being an attractive place for players to live during the winter months, that also added to the D-backs' appeal.
After their recent run to the World Series, the D-backs have even more to offer -- a team full of young, promising players who have already had success and play an exciting brand of baseball.
That’s different than the past couple of years, when the D-backs could only tell free agents that they had a lot of good prospects coming up through the farm system.
“I think that's probably more intriguing now,” general manager Mike Hazen said. “When you have a bunch of prospects, Major League players don't really care about prospects. That's great, you know, glad you have depth or you have young players, but they want to have young teammates that are really good. And I think they're starting to see some of those players perform on the major stage. And I think that that helps us.”
Hazen and his staff are behind in their offseason preparations because of the deep run into the postseason. That’s, of course, a trade-off they would take every single year, but it had them playing some catch-up at the GM Meetings, which took place this week in Scottsdale.
While the D-backs were the National League champions, Hazen hasn’t forgotten that they won just 84 games in the regular season and had a negative run differential.
In other words, there is plenty of room for improvement. They also will have to figure out how to make up for the loss of outfielders Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and Tommy Pham, who both became free agents.
“I think we have a lot of areas to build on,” Hazen said. “The 30-day [postseason] run was incredible for us. Not blind to where we ended the regular season, with a negative run differential, 84 wins, etc. There's some holes that have been created by some of the guys on the roster leaving, and so we're going to have to figure out a way to replace some of that. It's a lot [better] than where we've been in previous years, but we still have a lot of work to do to add to this team.”
The main priority for the D-backs will be starting pitching. If that sounds familiar, that’s because more than half of the teams in baseball have that at the top of their to-do list this winter as well.
Whether the D-backs add a starter through free agency or the trade market remains to be seen. Hazen, as is his custom, did not get into what his payroll budget will be for 2024.
“Pitching always rules the game,” Hazen said. “It always has; I think it's going to continue to. We need pitching to add to what we're doing, and so we're going to be involved -- aggressively, hopefully -- in both the trade and the free-agent market.”