When speaking with reporters two weeks ago, Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen said he’d wait until the season was over before issuing a verdict on whether or not the D’Backs would try to contend next year or look to rebuild. That season-ending meeting has now taken place, as Hazen spoke with media (including The Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro and MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert) and acknowledged that “coming off a 52-win season, making up 30 games on our win total is probably going to be somewhat challenging.”
“I’m not going to sell the team short, but I’m also not going to be unrealistic about realizing that we are a 52-win team,” Hazen said. “And you might get tired of me saying that but I’m going to keep saying it because I want us all to remember where we are right now, and it’s easily the worst place that I’ve ever sat, and I’m responsible for it, so it’s even more painful.”
Hazen didn’t officially label the Diamondbacks’ situation as a rebuild, reload, “step back,” or any similar terminology, and also indicated that it might not take too long to get the organization back on track. Hazen spoke highly of Arizona’s young prospects in the upper minors (some of whom are expected to make their big league debuts in 2022), and pointed to this wave of talent as evidence that the organizational pipeline was in good condition. “This isn’t a situation, for me, where we are relying on a series of top-five draft picks to get us back into a position where we should be. That’s my opinion,” Hazen said.
Of course, the critical next step is turning those prospects into contributors at the MLB level. To that end, Hazen gave credit to the division rival Giants as an example of a team that has been able to get the most of its roster, with both younger players and veterans. “I’m not sure that from top to bottom the consistency through which we are executing and helping our players is being done to the level that we should be doing it at,” Hazen said.
In terms of the Major League roster, Hazen said that the bullpen needs to be “rebuilt,” and that “I envision going into Spring Training with a lot of competition” at various positions, including third base. While this doesn’t necessarily mean the D’Backs will be moving veteran players, Hazen said that he has to consider every option in the wake of the team’s struggles over the last two years.
This represents a slight change from Hazen’s perspective back in June, when the Diamondbacks’ plan going into the trade deadline was to explore dealing shorter-term veterans but keeping a core group in place for future building. If nothing else, Hazen’s most recent comments create a bit more possibility that the likes of a Ketel Marte could be traded, though it’s probably safe to assume that Marte wouldn’t be moved for anything less than a huge offer.