ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS

Hazen’s ‘intention is to buy’ if Diamonbacks can hang before MLB trade deadline

Jul 3, 2024, 1:19 PM | Updated: 1:20 pm

Arizona Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen...

General manager Mike Hazen of the Arizona Diamondbacks speaks with reporters at spring training. (Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

(Arizona Sports Photo/Alex Weiner)

Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen is working on conditional statements like an eighth-grade Geometry proof.

If the D-backs play better, then he’ll act as a buyer at the trade deadline. And he desperately hopes to.

The problem is that 18 of the D-backs’ next 22 games before the July 30 MLB trade deadline come against either teams with better records or teams no further than 2.0 games behind it in the standings. In other words, it’s a brutal stretch that will impact how Hazen acts at the deadline.

“How much emphasis am I putting on (the next few weeks)? I think quite a bit,” Hazen told Arizona Sports’ Wolf & Luke on Wednesday. “The next two weeks is probably … one of the hardest if not the hardest stretches of runs of games we’re going to play during the season. I think a lot of the jockeying for position leading into the deadline is gonna happen. We are down again now three starters. It’s put us in a little bit of a precarious position.

“We need to be within distance. My intention here is to buy. I want to buy, I want to push further in. I know I’ve already pushed pretty aggressively in on this team. … But we need to play a little bit better, a little more consistently than we have been playing. I think the next three, four weeks is going to tell us quite a bit.”

Arizona has lost six of its last nine games, most recently taking a gut-punch walk-off loss to the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday.

Hazen has remained consistent in his messenging about his deadline hopes.

The general manager told MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert earlier in the week that Arizona would hopefully play better and buy at the end of the month if the team did. He was asked Wednesday on Wolf & Luke whether there is any underlying intention when speaking about buying, only if the team improves its performance.

“I don’t know. I don’t do those interviews, like, passively aggressively trying to send messages to the clubhouse, frankly,” he said. “I’m just trying to tell the truth. They all know the truth. … If we’re buried in the standings going into the deadline, nobody is going to look at me and look at trying to add significant pieces to the team.

“But I will say I think looking at how we’ve done over the first half of the season, which we’ve just passed, I think we need to play a lot better. And I think we can do that. I don’t think it’s unreasonable as long as the starting rotation can keep us (afloat) until those guys come back.”

The D-backs are currently awaiting returns from Eduardo Rodriguez, with Merrill Kelly expected to follow him. Fellow starter Jordan Montgomery just went on the injured list with right knee inflammation retroactive to June 29.

So there’s worrying about the present. But there’s also a long-term picture that could dictate Arizona’s decisions.

First baseman Christian Walker, closer Paul Sewald and utility veteran Kevin Newman could all become unrestricted free agents after this season.

Hazen said he’s quickly shut down any conversations other teams have had about his key looming free agents. He hasn’t thought deeply about whether trades should be made with next year and the possibility of losing those key pieces in mind.

“I’ve thought about that a little bit. … We have four or five guys who are free agents at the end of the year. Some of them are very important to us, obviously,” Hazen said. “Yeah, you have really good players that if you’re out in the trade deadline season, you’re probably doing really well for (if you considered dealing them).

“I don’t really want to do that. I don’t want to think about that all that much. I want them to be here.”

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