With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's D-backs squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?PHOENIX -- When Mike Hazen took over as D-backs' general manager last October, managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's D-backs squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?
PHOENIX -- When Mike Hazen took over as D-backs' general manager last October, managing general partner Ken Kendrick and team president/CEO Derrick Hall made it clear that it would be Hazen who decided what direction the organization would take after a disappointing 69-93 finish.
Over three months later, it seems clear that Hazen believes he has a team that can compete for the postseason in 2017. But at the same time, he's keeping an eye on the future.
"He's not just looking at this offseason or three years from now," Hall said at the time of the hiring. "You've got to look five years, seven years."
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Hazen could have gone into full-rebuild mode, but after doing a full assessment of the 2016 roster he decided to go with a more middle-of-the-road approach.
With that in mind, Hazen added veterans like closer Fernando Rodney and catchers Jeff Mathis and Chris Iannetta on short-term deals.
When it came to trades, Hazen took a longer view, acquiring promising right-hander Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte from the Mariners in exchange for veteran Jean Segura.
"I just think there's a lot of talent on the roster," Hazen said. "I think when you look at the roster as a whole you feel pretty good about [it] -- you have superstar players, you have young players who have a lot of upside and talent. I think we have a pitching staff that's going to be very good, we hope it's going to be very good. I think that outlook hasn't changed since I first started looking at it. We'll see where that takes us, but I think when you have this level of talent you start to focus on what you can do to bring that talent out and we'll see if we're successful."
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For example, the pitching staff struggled mightily in 2016 and while Walker and Rodney should bolster it, the D-backs are looking at other ways to help their hurlers.
Mathis in particular has been an above-average pitch framer and the D-backs feel that by having he and Iannetta, who had a good 2015 when it came to framing, behind the plate, it will help the pitching staff get more called strikes than it did last year with Welington Castillo.
The return to health of center fielder A.J. Pollock and right fielder David Peralta should help the outfield defense, which struggled in 2016. The number of balls that fell in the outfield certainly didn't help the pitchers. Adding Gregor Blanco on a Minor League deal could also give the D-backs a late-inning defensive replacement for Yasmany Tomas.
As 2017 opens, the D-backs plan on being contenders, but if things once again go sideways it's possible they could look to go into a rebuilding mode by jettisoning veterans.
Either way, expect Hazen to have a disciplined plan.
Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.