The Arizona Diamondbacks have their baseball operations boss. Now, it’s on new executive vice president and general manager Mike Hazen to make his first big decision: hiring a manager.
The Diamondbacks and Hazen will also need to finalize the restructured front office staff to replace former chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, general manager Dave Stewart and senior vice president of baseball operations De Jon Watson. But getting a jump-start on finding a manager to replace the fired Chip Hale is finally on the horizon.
Hazen, formerly the Boston Red Sox’s general manager, will be introduced to the Phoenix media on Monday, and it’s likely he could drop a few hints about the hiring process then.
But the rumors are already ramping up. Here are three possible Diamondbacks managerial candidates.
Torey Lovullo, bench coach, Red Sox
Because of their relationship, the hiring of Hazen immediately throws Lovullo’s name into the hat when it comes to Arizona’s vacancy. While there aren’t initial reports of an interest, the assumption is being made by those like Boston Globe national baseball writer Nick Cafardo, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale and others. ESPN’s Scott Lauber even went as far as saying it would be a “stunner if he’s not” the D-backs’ next manager.
The resume: Lovullo played professionally from 1988-2000 and then held a decade of minor-league coaching positions that in 2010 ended with him managing the Triple-A Pawtucket Red Sox. He made his major-league debut as the Toronto Blue Jays’ first base coach from 2011-12 and then headed to Boston in 2013 as a bench coach. Filling in temporarily for manager John Farrell on an interim basis in 2015, Lovullo led the Red Sox to a 28-21 record before Farrell returned for 2016 after battling lymphoma. Boston front office leader Dave Dombrowski last week said Lovullo, who signed an extension last year, would be made available to speak with interested teams. The Boston Globe reports that includes the D-backs.
Phil Nevin, manager, Triple-A Reno
Nevin’s chances at the managerial job would likely be higher had an in-house GM candidate like assistant general manager Brian Minnitti or farm director Mike Bell been promoted. Still, their voices, if they’re retained, could keep Nevin in the mix. That’s not to mention managing partner Ken Kendrick’s and CEO Derrick Hall’s familiarity with him.
The resume: After playing from 1995-2006, Nevin coached in the minors from 2008-09 before joining the minor-league affiliates of the Detroit Tigers in 2010. Arizona hired Nevin to manage Triple-A Reno in 2014, where he’s been ever since. He has interviewed for major league managerial positions and was mentioned as a candidate to replace Hale if he were fired during the 2016 season.
Eddie Perez, first base coach, Braves
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s David O’Brien reported Saturday that the Atlanta Braves’ first-base coach had drawn interest from the Rockies and the Diamondbacks.
The resume: Perez played for three teams over 11 MLB seasons, twice with the Braves. After retiring following the 2005 season, he rejoined Atlanta as a bullpen coach in 2007 and has remained there ever since. He only took over as first base coach this May when the Braves fired manager Fredi Gonzalez and the coaching staff overwent several other changes.
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