D-backs to 'take some risks' with roster re-vamping

August 13th, 2023

PHOENIX -- Mike Hazen was as patient as he could be. He tried adding players at the Trade Deadline hoping that would do the trick. But after watching his team struggle for more than six weeks, the D-backs' general manager had seen enough. Something had to change and Sunday, before the D-back's 5-4 win over the Padres, which gave them the series victory, it did as Arizona’s roster shakeup continued.

Gone were veteran catcher and rookie right-handed and in their place catcher returned from the injured list and right-hander was called up for the first time.

“Things just weren't moving in the direction we needed them to move in,” said Hazen, whose team snapped a nine-game losing streak Saturday. “I don’t know what the right decisions are in terms of changing the roster construction, but we’re going to make some changes and see if that helps spark what we feel like is a good team that’s not playing the way it did in the first three months of the season. I don’t know what the right answer is, but we’re not just going to sit and watch it.”

Here are some things to know about what Hazen had to say about the moves and his team’s situation down the stretch:

They just didn’t see enough from Kelly to keep him
The Kelly move was somewhat of a surprise, because while he has struggled at the plate this year, the D-backs do not have a lot of organizational depth at catcher. If something happens to Moreno or backup catcher Jose Herrera, it’s not certain where they would turn.

Ali Sanchez and Adrian Del Castillo are the two catchers at Reno and Hazen said they continue to look at what other alternatives there might be outside the organization.

“At some point, with five to six weeks to go, depth becomes less important than trying to put the best [team] on the field,” Hazen said. "We may not be right in all those things, but you have to be willing to take more risks.”

Moreno and Herrera handled the bulk of the catching duties the first couple months of the season while Kelly was on the IL with a forearm fracture.

“When we had the roster construction in the first half of the season with Gabi and Herrera, we played really well,” Hazen said. “I don’t know that that is going to be the secret formula to getting back to the way we were before, I don’t think that’s anyone’s expectation, but that was the choice we had, to send Herrera down or make this move. We decided to make this move.”

Paul Goldschmidt trade didn’t work out as hoped
With Kelly departing the organization and right-hander Luke Weaver having been dealt at last year’s Trade Deadline for infielder Emmanuel Rivera, the D-backs don’t have a lot to show for the 2018 trade of Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals.

The D-backs do still have outfielder Dominic Fletcher, who they selected with the Draft pick they received in that deal, at Triple-A but Kelly and Weaver were the headliners.

“We didn’t do a great job on that trade,” Hazen said. “I’ve said this previously. None of that, unfortunately, has changed. We now have Rivera and Fletcher still who were a part of that trade, which I feel good about. But we didn’t do a very good job on that trade.”

The D-backs are going to get creative with their rotation
By demoting Nelson, the D-backs left themselves with essentially three starters -- Zac Gallen, Merrill Kelly and Brandon Pfaadt.

Jarvis, who has been a starter throughout his pro career, will pitch out of the bullpen and can give them multiple innings. Slade Cecconi made one start and one relief appearance since being called up 10 days ago. They also have lefty Tyler Gilbert, who can throw multiple innings.

Zach Davies is going to make a second rehab start for Triple-A Reno on Tuesday and could return after that but in the meantime, the D-backs will mix and match with the two open spots.

“Ryne did a good job in some of his games,” Hazen said. “It just was wildly inconsistent for us. We ended up using a lot of bullpen in those days, anyway. The decision was, if we’re using a lot of bullpen in those days, anyway, looking at it just as a traditional starter situation wasn’t the right way we should be looking at it. We’re going to take some risks and play it by ear, week by week.”