Hazen: More work to be done for D-backs after Bumgarner signing
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen acknowledged that the team’s signing of pitcher Madison Bumgarner wasn’t the completion of an offseason of work.
It’s a good splash move, though, one that Hazen saw as necessary after trading away D-backs ace Zack Greinke over the summer. He said as much to Doug & Wolf on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.
“One of the points of trepidation for us in trading Zack was that loss of the No. 1 starter,” Hazen said Wednesday. “You see the teams that play in the playoffs: [Clayton] Kershaw, [Walker] Buehler, Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander — go down the line: [Max] Scherzer, [Stephen] Strasburg, [Patrick] Corbin. You see a theme here. And we were going to be sort of without that guy.
“And we didn’t necessarily go into this offseason … anticipating right away being able to strike on that. But it was a goal, a softer goal, at some point when the time was right to be able to replace that. And we felt like we were able to do that.”
A packed room full of media watched the D-backs introduce Bumgarner on Tuesday, but surely the opinions of viewers at home were mixed. Some have noted the struggles of Bumgarner, like how he had a 5.29 ERA in road games last year and a 3.90 ERA overall, the worst of his career.
“Those are fair questions. I get it,” Hazen said. “We look through all that stuff, we do a lot of the homework on those things. … Frankly, we felt like he had kind of trended back in the right direction this year. We felt a little of those road numbers were skewed a little bit late in the season in September by a few bad road starts. I think any pitcher, starting pitcher, that gets to this point in their career, I think there’s some evolution that takes place with all of these guys.”
So what’s left to be done? For one, the free agency of both Jarrod Dyson and Adam Jones, along with non-tendering Steven Souza Jr., leaves holes in the Diamondbacks outfield.
“I would say that we’re examining the position player market, we have been the entire offseason,” Hazen said. “I still think there’s a lot of different avenues we could go down. I think we have a ton of flexibility on our roster. We could put a lot of different combinations together right now that would fill a lot of what I need already and feel really good about what we’re doing.
“We’d like to add to the position-player group, but we’ll see how the market behaves over the next couple of months.”
Where does center field or second base enter into that equation? Wilmer Flores, whose 2020 option was declined by the team, is a free agent. That, combined with Ketel Marte’s shift to center field from second base last year, leaves a hole in the infield. But that void would be in center field if Marte moved back to second base.
“It’s more based on what position we can fill,” Hazen said of that issue. “My preference would probably be to keep him at second base. But I think it’s 51-49 (percent priority). I don’t think it’s so extreme that, ‘We’re going to do anything in our power to fill center field.’ If the better situation is to be in center field, then we’ll go that route [and vice versa]. And I think a little bit of both along with a primary position is probably what’s going to end up happening.”