One Free Agent Target for Each NL West Team
The National League West is one of the more peculiar divisions in baseball. Three of the five teams are hosted in California with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies being the outliers. The San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, and Los Angeles Dodgers are more likely to spend big for established talent, while the Diamondbacks and Rockies try to rely on homegrown talent. There is a disparity that exists in the NL West, yet four out of five teams are still quite competitive. The Diamondbacks made up a lot of ground and finished second in the division despite a lesser payroll than a team like the Dodgers. As each team navigates the market, here is one free agent for each organization to pursue.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Blake Snell
While Shohei Ohtani is likely the big ticket they will pursue, it’s immediate starting pitching that the Dodgers will need in 2024. Injury and other circumstances plagued the Dodgers in 2023 and it’s an area of focus going forward. The team will have Walker Buehler back for next season, but their other rotation options are limited with Clayton Kershaw again a free agent after also undergoing shoulder surgery as well as free agent Julio Urías who is still dealing with the allegations of domestic abuse. Blake Snell would be a reasonable addition to the Dodgers rotation. The 31- year-old left-handed starter is the presumed NL Cy Young Award winner after he went 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA and 234 strikeouts in 180 innings. The Dodgers rotation needs both star power and a southpaw and Snell fits the bill, plus experience pitching in the NL West is always a helpful perk.
San Diego Padres: Lucas Giolito
The San Diego Padres aren’t exactly in a position to make a huge splash in talent acquisition. The team has already been trying to cut down the roster, evidenced by the rejection of Michael Wacha’s two-year player option in the rotation. They also have a matter of deciding what to do with Juan Soto. With the loss of three rotation staples in Snell, Wacha, and Seth Lugo as well as the uncertainty of Yu Darvish’s future with the team, the Padres are going to need pitching. Giolito had a solid year with the Chicago White Sox prior to his trade to the Los Angeles Angels mid-season. Unfortunately, he struggled down the stretch, ending the season with the Cleveland Guardians. Still, a 4.88 ERA on the season is respectable and a deal to re-establish his value in San Diego could be just what the doctor ordered. A one-year deal in the projected $12 million could help both parties, otherwise, the Padres will have to hope they can strike gold in the trade market or with a lesser free agent signing.
San Francisco Giants: Jung-hoo-Lee
Much like the other top teams in the division, the San Francisco Giants are in need of pitching. No doubt they will be heavily involved in the market, but one position player free agent that should focus on is the 25-year-old Korean superstar Jung-hoo-Lee. Injuries limited him in 2023 but he may be one of the best offensive free agents not named Ohtani. He’s an excellent center fielder and batted .349/.421/.575 with 23 home runs and 113 RBI in 2022. The Giants need a star in their lineup and Lee is both young and established and likely wouldn’t break the bank like other top free agents on the market, leaving room to pursue top-of-the-line starters. The Giants have often relied on veterans and lesser-known players to fuel their offense, but after missing out on two key free agents last offseason, they likely aren’t going to let themselves miss out on any of their preferred targets again.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Turner
Youth is the name of the game for the Arizona Diamondbacks, but there is still a place for established veterans to help the squad. Evan Longoria served his role well in 2023 as a leader, but the Diamondbacks need an offensive upgrade out of a veteran. Justin Turner enters his age 39 season but had a strong year with the Boston Red Sox. In 146 games Turner slashed .276/.345/.455 with 23 home runs and a career-high 96 RBI. An established track record of success would be valuable to a young Arizona team that is coming off a World Series appearance. He has the ability to split time between both corner infield positions and be the designated hitter. The Diamondbacks should have some payroll room to splurge here and there because of the cost-controlled roster and Turner makes a sensible target for a team looking to take the next step in 2024.
Colorado Rockies: Michael Lorenzen
The Colorado Rockies are in need of a lot of things, but pitching will always remain at the top of the list. Injuries and ineffectiveness riddled the team and were a big contributing factor to their first 100-loss season in team history. The team is unlikely to aim for the top of the market, simply due to the fact of how difficult it is to attract top pitchers to come to Colorado, but there is still a chance to draw in a quality mid-tier starter. The Rockies 2024 rotation doesn’t inspire much confidence and while they may be interested in bringing back Chase Anderson and Chris Flexen, it may be more worthwhile to look outside the box. Michael Lorenzen is coming off a year in which he endured the heaviest workload of his career. The reliever-turned-starter began the year in Detroit where he turned in a solid sub-4.00 ERA before being traded to the Philidaelphia Phillies. His first two starts in Phillie were about as good as it gets, including a no-hitter against the Washington Nationals in his second start as a Phillie. He wavered down the stretch and was moved to the bullpen prior to the postseason but at the age of 32, Lorenzen is a perfect candidate for a team like the Rockies that needs pitching without costing an arm and a leg, to compliment a growing young core.