Hazen faces multilayered paths for 2019

D-backs' direction depends on which Hot Stove dominoes fall first

November 15th, 2018

PHOENIX -- The best way to envision what D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and his staff are facing this offseason is to picture a room filled with different sets of domino chains.
There are multiple starting points for the dominoes, and whichever one Hazen tips over first is going to set in motion a series of moves that will take the D-backs in one direction or another.
Trade Zack Greinke? Well, then that likely sets up another move that could mean taking a step backwards competitively or freeing up the more than $100 million still owed to the right-hander and using it to fill other holes that would leave the team still contenders.
Trade one of the infielders? Then, Hazen has to figure out how he's going to replace that person.
"That's fair," Hazen said of the domino comparison. "And I think that's what complicates it a little bit, to make sure that we're understanding what we're doing before we do something. What's the return for that and what does that do to our roster? We've talked about trying to fill holes, if possible, in certain ways with certain trades, but then some of those trades leave you open in other areas, and how are you going to fill that? So, there are definitely some multilayered decisions here that we need to consider."
It's those multilayered decisions that make the D-backs a fascinating team to watch this offseason.
Hazen spent the General Managers Meetings last week trying to get a feel for who might be possible trade partners.
Now that he's done that, he can begin to try and sort out what the D-backs' options might be and what domino they choose to push.
"I think the first step is trying to get a hold of the 29 other teams and figure out exactly what they're trying to do," Hazen said. "I think there's such a wide breadth of different things we could talk about, we're trying to just get our arms around the entire market."
The D-backs had a club-record payroll on Opening Day north of $130 million and they finished the season just north of $140 million.
"We have some rough outlines, but we're still trying to work through some things first and then we'll kind of hone down," Hazen said of whether the team has settled on a budget for next year. "I think it's probably going to be south of where we ended up last year, but that's not 100 percent definitive yet. My gut is it's going to end up south of where we were at the end of last year."
The D-backs have shown interest in bringing back free agents like and , but again whether they do or not depends on what other moves they make first.
"I think there are some moves that are going to take priority over others, in terms of having to do some things first before we start going into other directions," Hazen said.
As for left-hander and outfielder A.J. Pollock, who both turned down qualifying offers and are free agents, Hazen said the club would like to stay engaged with both.