Hazen: Over next month, D-backs will lay out future one question at a time
Taking a step back from an emotionally-gutting September that saw the Arizona Diamondbacks fall out of playoff contention is important for general manager Mike Hazen.
He doesn’t want a single month to dictate any plans for the future of the franchise. That said, he knows he has to objectively look at what bit the D-backs, who led the National League West for most of the 2018 regular season.
The free agencies of center fielder A.J. Pollock and Patrick Corbin only add to what could be a complex offseason. All together, does Hazen and Arizona’s front office need to choose between contending in 2019 and rebuilding?
A few questions, in sequence, must be asked to come to a conclusion, one that Hazen isn’t ready to rush into as of the beginning of October.
“We felt like we had a good run at it this year, in terms of the opportunity,” the GM told Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station Wednesday. “That team can largely come back minus a few key pieces. I think we need to assess what’s going to happen to those key pieces, whether we can keep them or not, and if the answer is no, how do we replace them? And if we don’t replace them, where does that leave us? Those are the questions we have to ask ourselves in the next 30 days.”
So would it be time to rebuild if Pollock and Corbin are out of Arizona’s price range and the free agent market doesn’t give them avenues toward replacing two key starters?
“I can’t answer that question right now,” Hazen said. “The reason why I can’t answer that question is I think there is a wide swath to the middle part of that of what you need to replace. And I do think there will be potential to do that. I will say that (Pollock and Corbin) are two key pieces to this team.”
BRADLEY CLOSE TO CLOSING?
A day after D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said that reliever Archie Bradley could be the team’s best option to move into a closer’s role next year, Hazen gave his impression of that thought.
“We would hope that that closer opportunity, that position, comes from on the roster. We know the challenges of trying to acquire a closer. I think we know the talent of the guys on the backend,” he said.
He added this of Bradley’s rough September (7.00 ERA, .381 opponent average): “You have to step away from September and objectively assess what is going on with your roster and where you’re at because you can become, I think, a little bit emotional about watching you lose games in the last inning.”
PRESSURE? NOT SO MUCH
Hazen does not believe the pressure got to the Diamondbacks as they attempted to cling to a division lead only to go 8-19 over the final month of the year.
“Watching in the clubhouse, watching guys perform, prepare, get ready for games, there was no difference,” he said. “Our guys can handle the pressure. That I have no doubt about. That’s not the answer. I think the answer — and I don’t know that it’s all the way to the other side to say we had one bad month. We earned that bad month. It wasn’t bad luck.
“The adjustments we need to make I think are from a depth standpoint, in my opinion, we didn’t have enough,” Hazen added. “My fault. On the bullpen side I think we rode Archie, Yoshi (Hirano), (Brad Boxberger) and (Andrew) Chafin, really, the entire season. I think that’s something that we need to keep in consideration moving forward.”
Would the D-backs consider trading first baseman Paul Goldschmidt if they leaned toward a rebuild? Hazen seems to believe that’s not a given.
“If it’s a rudderless ship, it’s a little bit challenging to get guys to understand what somebody like Paul Goldschmidt understands, which is how to win at the major league level,” he said.