What should D-backs do at Trade Deadline? Hazen weighs in

July 1st, 2024

PHOENIX -- The next couple of weeks are shaping up to be crucial for the D-backs, with series against the Dodgers, Padres, Braves and Blue Jays coming before the All-Star break, and their general manager is looking for signs that they should be buyers at the July 30 Trade Deadline.

The D-backs entered Monday with a 41-43 record, a distant 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Dodgers in the NL West, but just 2 1/2 games out of the final NL Wild Card spot. Only two teams -- the Marlins and Rockies -- are more than five games out of the Wild Card chase in the NL.

That means a hot streak could easily vault the D-backs into a strong position in the race, but a rough stretch could put them behind the eight ball.

With the D-backs set to open a three-game set at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, GM Mike Hazen addressed his plans for the Deadline coming up at the end of the month. Here’s a breakdown of what he said:

On whether he plans to be a buyer, seller or neutral at the Trade Deadline

Hazen would like to be a buyer, but he’s not ready to commit to that yet based on what he’s seen so far from his team.

“My desire is for us to be in a position to buy at the Deadline and improve this team to push to the playoffs,” Hazen said. “It’s obviously been a struggle here for the first half of the season. We haven’t played consistent enough. We’ve taken on some injuries. Some of those have resolved; some of those have not. But every team, especially the teams that I’m looking at that we’re competing with, they’ve all taken on injuries.”

What the criteria is in order for him to buy

There is not a certain record or place in the standings the D-backs need to be in to convince Hazen to buy, but there are some criteria.

“It’s going to be where are we down relative to how many teams are above us,” Hazen said. “Like last year, as we slipped down around the Deadline, I think we got to like two or three [games] out and we had two or three teams above us. That’s a dynamic you can overcome. If you start getting too far down and buried behind and needing three, four or five teams to lose and you win, that’s not a good spot to be in. Look, I think if we have a glimmer of where it’s at, my gut will be to continue to add to this team.”

On what he’s heard from ownership

Hazen has a good partnership with managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall, and they have allowed him to have the highest Opening Day payroll in franchise history.

The three want to keep pushing forward, but Hazen said the team has not justified going all in to this point.

“I think we’ll have conversations around other scenarios if we’re forced to deal with other scenarios,” Hazen said. “I think with Ken, it’s been consistent that from the day I got here: When we have a shot to go, he wants to go. I don’t anticipate that changing. I have no anticipation that’s going to change. I’m hopeful we’re going to be in that position 30 days from now.”

On what he could be looking to add

The D-backs expect to get lefty back from the injured list close to the Deadline, while right-hander might be out until August. That means a starting pitcher that is controllable for more than just this year would be something Hazen would look at.

While he feels very good about the back end of the bullpen, Hazen would be open to adding another piece. And if the offense doesn’t pick things up, adding a bat would be a priority, but that’s trickier to fit in because the team is committed to young players at a number of positions.

“I feel like our collective approach from a day-to-day standpoint, like the at-bats we’re having with runners in scoring position, or even building innings to get runners in scoring position, it can be better,” Hazen said. “And it needs to be better if we’re going to sustain offense that’s going to overcome some of the stuff with our defense and our starting pitching.”