Mike Hazen, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, established a foundation for future transactions
If you’re looking for a significant free-agency signing or block-buster deal from Mike Hazen, the general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, from the recently concluded winter meetings, such excitement did not occur.
First displayed in the GM meetings last month in Scottsdale and through the conversations this week in suburban Washington, Hazen told reporters he is no hurry to make rash decisions. More important, Hazen has been in his current job for about two months, and still making the rounds.
Hazen likes to use the word “process,” and his attempt to build the Diamondbacks to a National League West Division contender, remains a process. That’s the philosophy and approach and Hazen is no hurry to expedient any move.
A contact with Seattle GM Jerry DiPoto at the GM sessions last month in Scottsdale culminated in the acquisition of right-handed starter Taijuan Walker on the right before Thanksgiving, but Hazen made no deal since. To listen carefully, that’s not his intention, but Hazen said the Diamondbacks would make a deal on their terms and what is beneficial to the franchise.
For now, Hazen kept in the background and let the Red Sox, with their acquisition of left-hander Chris Sale and the Nationals, acquiring outfielder and former Diamondback Adam Eaton, grab the limelight.
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For his part, Hazen seem to indicate the Diamondbacks could deal from a position of strength.
With six starters in the current make-up, Hazen pointed out that while this could be considered a luxury, this is also a bargaining chip. With only two off-days in April, depth in the rotation could be beyond a luxury, but a necessity. Plus, there no way to look into a crystal bowl and ascertain the health of the starters on opening day.
If Hazen accomplished anything during the winter meetings, he could point to two areas, First, he identified Brandon Drury as, potentially, the Diamondbacks second baseman and indicated he intends to go with Jake Lamb at third.
That would leave essentially Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed to battle for the shortstop position. At the same time, the Diamondbacks like Ketel Marte, a second baseman/shortstop who was acquired with Walker from the M’s for Jean Segura.
Regarding Marte, Hazen said “we love his athleticism,” and Marte has proven offensive skills. At the same, his glove could be a liability and, likely, cannot compete with Owings and Ahmed on defense.
The second area of which Hazen seem to praise is versatility. It’s possible the Diamondbacks could carry three catchers and one, Chris Herrmann, with a left-handed bat, could play several positions. That would leave veteran Jeff Mathis and Oscar Hernandez as true catchers.
Regarding Mathis, Hazen indicated the 33-year-old could start between 50 and 60 games and leave Herrmann to catch around 60 games. Hernandez then could start about 40 games and give the Diamondbacks depth and versatility.
While Hazen continues to search for bullpen help, the market for relievers could stretch into next month and early February. That was a similar timetable of last off-season. That’s when the Diamondbacks signed reliever Tyler Clippard in February, and right before the start of spring training.
Rule 5 draft selection
In Thursday’s selection of prospects, the Diamondbacks selected right-handed pitcher Tyler Jones from the Yankees. At 6-4, Jones is a product of LSU, and previously pitched in the Minnesota and Atlanta systems.
For Double-A Trenton last season, Jones posted a 2.17 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, 67 strikeouts (11 walks) in 45.2 innings.
With the Diamondbacks 40-man roster at 38 before the winter meetings, Jones was added to the 40-man roster. Should he fail to make the Diamondbacks’ 25-man roster on opening day, he must return to the Yankees organization.