Reshape, develop, draft: D-backs GM prepares for offseason ‘heavy lifting’
Manager Torey Lovullo will return to the Arizona Diamondbacks’ dugout next season. That’s one big decision made, but in the grand scheme of things, a relatively small starting point for the upcoming offseason.
Arizona (50-107) has five games left before general manager Mike Hazen begins what he called the “heavy lifting” of the offseason. While last offseason was about finding in-house fixes and reversion to an optimistic mean, this year will undoubtedly be about changes.
A lot of change is expected.
The manager will not change, but his staff could. The roster, as it’s turned to a youth movement, isn’t expected to remain static — though some of those young players will have a chance to compete for playing time in 2022.
Internal growth will need to be apparent. And soon.
“Part of what we’re going to do this offseason is reshaping our roster in certain ways,” Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Bickley & Marotta on Wednesday. “But the biggest part of what we’re going to do with our roster is continue to push some of the younger players, especially who we have on the roster, forward, and that’s going to continue into the offseason.
“That’s not taking a six-month hiatus. We can’t afford to walk into spring training next February, pick up where we left off expecting to be in a better place than where we are now.”
How the D-backs develop internally will require innovation. But look no further than the NL West-leading San Francisco Giants for an example of how Hazen can attempt to improve.
The Diamondbacks GM saw that San Francisco, like Arizona, funneled nearly all of its starters through the injured list at points in the season. Unlike the D-backs, the Giants stayed afloat and thrived.
San Francisco’s Triple-A call-ups and backups performed in the big leagues to keep the Giants elite from start to finish.
“It pains people sometimes — I try not to look at it this way — to tip your hat to those in your division,” Hazen said. “They’ve done an unbelievable job of getting their players to perform at an elite level, and an elite level in 162, which is nearly impossible to do.
“Lost almost all of their players to IL. There’s no excuses from my seat, for me, that I can’t do a better job of having the second team that’s coming up that the Giants saw this year, that has beaten us a number of games … those are the areas we need to improve — I need to improve upon.”
Beyond reshaping the roster where they can and developing the younger generation, Hazen’s staff will also have the opportunity to build up the farm system.
As of Tuesday, Arizona sits a game ahead of the Baltimore Orioles with the worst record in MLB. Staying in that spot would land the D-backs the first pick in the MLB Draft. Looking to the draft, Hazen said his big board of prospects is far from determined.
“I have a group of players that is probably about eight,” he said. “This pick is going to be critical. What I am confident in, given where we’ve taken players — sixth, 15th, back of the first round — over the years we’ve been here, our scouting staff has done a phenomenal job putting talent into this organization.”