D-backs keep Lovullo with 1-yr. extension

September 23rd, 2021

PHOENIX -- D-backs manager Torey Lovullo will return in 2022 after he agreed to a one-year extension on Thursday that also includes a club option for 2023.

Lovullo was hired Nov. 4, 2016, just after Mike Hazen took over as Arizona's general manager. His original contract was for three years, and he was given a two-year extension prior to the 2019 season.

"We’ve had a lot of conversations and we feel like Torey still, even through all the things we’ve gone through this year, has maintained stability and structure around what we’re going to try to accomplish moving forward," said Hazen in announcing the extension. "I think that in a lot of cases we could just sort of start over, and I don’t necessarily believe that holistically that was the right decision for us to make right now."

Here are some key points to keep in mind about Lovullo's extension:

This is not a surprise
While the news might seem strange given the team's record this year, it became more and more clear to those inside the organization that Lovullo would be back in 2022.

If the D-backs were going to dismiss Lovullo, it would have been when they went a combined 8-48 in May and June. The front office felt then, as they do now, that Lovullo was not the main factor in the struggles.

Hazen tried to take a methodical approach to making the decision on Lovullo, stripping out as much emotion as he could. A week to 10 days ago, he came to the conclusion that Lovullo would be back, at which point he started working through the contractual aspect before reaching an agreement at some point on Wednesday.

Hazen doesn't want to shirk his responsibility here
Hazen is always accountable, sometimes to a fault, and he has said time and again this year that he deserves more blame than anyone for the team's record given that he assembled the roster.

"I’m not a martyr here," Hazen said. "I’m not trying to have it come across that way. But I need to be honest about where things have gone for us this year. I think as it relates to the things that I have more full control over, and I’ve specifically mentioned the bullpen, that has been an area of our performance that I have the most control over in terms of personnel and all that, and you’ve seen what’s happened out there. That’s a part [that] I have to take responsibly for."

Lovullo's strengths will be an asset in a rebuild
Regardless of whether they use the word "rebuild" or not, the D-backs' roster has gotten younger as this season has gone on, and that will almost certainly continue in 2022.

Lovullo's greatest strength as a manager is his ability to run a clubhouse and communicate with his players. Despite a terrible year record wise, he has managed to keep the clubhouse from fracturing, which is no small accomplishment.

In addition, Lovullo's experience working in player development (with the Indians) and his Minor League managerial experience have taught him how to work with young players. And with more development taking place at the Major League level these days, that's an important trait for a manager.

No one in the organization is satisfied
Hazen made it clear that just because there is not going to be a change in manager this offseason, that doesn't mean that anyone is blameless or that there won't be changes in how things are done going forward.

"There’s criticism to go around, plenty," Hazen added. "There’s no absolution anywhere. There’s not a part of the process that we’re not going to ask hard questions about. I just think that starting over from zero is also not necessarily the most clear-cut vision, knowing what we have in Torey in all the ways we feel like he’s going to make us better."

Lovullo will decide what to do with his coaching staff, all of whom are in the final year of their contracts. When Hazen took his physical leave of absence in June, the team brought in veteran baseball operations executive Allard Baird as a special assistant. Baird has provided a fresh look at not just the organization's players but also its processes.