Hazen: Full rebuild not in the works for D-backs
GM says he'll be creative to keep club competitive
LAS VEGAS -- D-backs GM Mike Hazen knows that after the trade of a franchise-player like Paul Goldschmidt, the expectation was that his team was going to undergo a full rebuild.
That may happen at some point in the future, but as Hazen has explained to his colleagues at the Winter Meetings, he has no intention of doing that right now.
Instead, the D-backs will attempt the difficult challenge of retooling while still trying to remain competitive.
"One, I think it's tricky to do that," Hazen said of undertaking a complete rebuild like the Cubs and Astros did recently. "I think it's a risky strategy. I just don't think our Draft is built the way other games' drafts are. There's a long development process."
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When Theo Epstein took over the Cubs and Jeff Luhnow assumed the GM duties of the Astros, the Major League teams were not good.
In Arizona, though, the D-backs believe that even without Goldschmidt, Patrick Corbin and A.J. Pollock, who is likely to depart via free agency, they still have a good core.
Left fielder David Peralta has been an above-average performer, Jake Lamb has one All-Star Game to his name already, Nick Ahmed is an elite defender at short and improved at the plate last season. There's Ketel Marte and Eduardo Escobar, and the team expects Steven Souza Jr. to be a bigger contributor in 2019 since he will be past the shoulder woes of last year.
In Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, the D-backs have a good top-of-the-rotation, and reliever Archie Bradley has the stuff to be as dominant as he was in 2017.
So rather than use the Astros or Cubs as role models, the D-backs will look to the Brewers as an example. Milwaukee won the National League Central in 2011 and, after falling off a bit, rebuilt without completely bottoming out, once again winning the NL Central in 2018.
Hazen will try to get creative and use some combination of Escobar, Lamb, Marte and a free-agent or trade acquisition to fill the holes left by Goldschmidt and Pollock. He's already added to the depth in the rotation with the acquisition of Luke Weaver and the signing of Merrill Kelly.
Meanwhile, the team will continue to try to build out its farm system. Pitchers like Jon Duplantier, Taylor Widener and Taylor Clarke are knocking on the door to the big leagues and the position-player group that includes shortstop Jazz Chisholm and catcher Daulton Varsho is another year or so behind them.
The D-backs will have eight picks early in the 2019 Draft and making sure they hit on those selections will be "critical," according to Hazen.
And if they get to the non-waiver Trade Deadline next season and are floundering, Hazen can always decide to change course.
"I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it, honestly," he said. "If we get put in that situation, we'll have to react to that situation. I don't think treading water over a long period of time is going to be an answer to winning a World Series. We need to make some hard decisions and we will if we have to. I still see a lot of creative solutions out there, if we can put it together the right way, and that's on me. I've got to do that."