3:06pm: The Diamondbacks and manager Chip Hale have agreed to a contract extension that will run through “at least” the 2017 season, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (on Twitter). Hale had been entering the final guaranteed season of a contract that included a club option for the 2017 season.
Hale, 51, initially signed a two-year deal with the Diamondbacks in what has been his first stint as a big league manager. Hale, a former utility infielder for the Twins and Dodgers from 1989-97, does have extensive experience on Major League coaching staffs, however, and had previously managed at the minor league level as well. Hale led the 2015 Diamondbacks to a 79-win season — a better outcome than many anticipated. The D-backs, in fact were within striking distance of the division lead as late into the season as Aug. 23, when the club sat five games out of first place.
Expectations will be wildly different for Hale as he enters his second season at the helm in Arizona. While few pegged them to even sniff the .500 mark last season, Arizona’s high-octane offseason included the signings of Zack Greinke and Tyler Clippard as well as a blockbuster trade for Shelby Miller. With Greinke and Miller atop the rotation and a full year of Patrick Corbin, who missed the beginning of the 2015 season recovering from 2014 Tommy John surgery, Arizona’s front office has placed pressure on its field staff and player personnel to deliver not only a winning club, but one that can contend for a postseason berth in what should be a competitive NL West division.