Diamondbacks introduce SP Rodriguez, unfazed by rival Dodgers adding Ohtani
That's life in the NL West, where the D-backs have among the more modest payrolls, though it's clear they're willing to spent to some degree following a surprise run to the World Series before a five-game loss to Texas.
“We'd like to think we can have greater revenue streams going into next season, when more people want to come out and watch our team play," Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick said on Tuesday. "And we're going to re-invest. The Diamondbacks are going to go on the field this year with the highest payroll in the history of the team.
“I'm not going to tell you what it will be, but it will be the highest payroll we've ever had.”
Kendrick's words ring true so far this offseason. The D-backs already acquired slugger Eugenio Suárez in a trade with the Mariners during November, picking up the $11 million he is due next season. The franchise was 20th out of 30 teams in payroll according to projections heading into the postseason, spending $127 million.
Now they've added Rodriguez, who was introduced at Chase Field on Tuesday.
“I know these guys are coming off of the World Series and they're hungry to win the World Series,” Rodriguez said. “I want to be a part of that.”
There were other factors that led Rodriguez to the desert, including a relationship with D-backs manager Torey Lovullo and general manager Mike Hazen that date to when all of them were with Boston in the mid-2010s.
Hazen said the team met with Rodriguez for nearly two hours at last week's winter meetings in Nashville, Tennessee, as they worked to find a deal that worked for both sides.
“It's probably the longest player meeting I've ever had,” Hazen said. “We talked about a lot of things, which was incredible.”
Rodriguez could fit into the No. 3 spot in the team's rotation behind All-Star Zac Gallen and Merrill Kelly. The D-backs also have Brandon Pfaadt — who is coming off a stellar postseason — and young lefty Tommy Henry.
Hazen and Kendrick said the D-backs weren't necessarily done adding free agents.
No matter what Arizona does, it'll be dwarfed by the Ohtani deal, which was a big topic of conversation on Tuesday.
“I think it's good for us that we get to compete against him,” Kendrick said. "Last time I looked, he's one of nine. Last I also looked, he's the designated hitter. He's a great player. Is he the second coming? I would suggest not.
“Would you like to have a player of that talent on your team? Of course, everyone would.”
Ohtani is the best two-way player in the game's history but figures to be primarily a designated hitter in 2024 while he recovers from a second surgery on his pitching elbow. The hope is he'll return to the mound in 2025.
Kendrick has plenty of reasons to feel confident about his team, even if the Dodgers are sucking up the headlines in December. The D-backs swept the 100-win Dodgers in three games during the NL Division Series, clinching a berth to the NL Championship Series in front of a raucous home crowd, which was one of the more satisfying moments in franchise history.
Arizona's roster is filled with young talent, including NL Rookie of the Year Corbin Carroll.
Kendrick credited the Dodgers for using a creative contract structure to land Ohtani, which includes $68 million deferred money each year, meaning he'll receive just $2 million per year over the next 10 seasons.
The deal allows Los Angeles greater payroll flexibility in coming seasons.
“They're playing by the rules,” Kendrick said. “They got a great player, who is going to be an addition that makes them more competitive. But the economics are not so tilted in a way that puts them at an incredible advantage over the rest of us.”
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