Mike Hazen, general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, will not engage in speculation
To give manager Torey Luvullo freedom to construct his staff, general manager Mike Hazen confirmed departures of two Diamondbacks legends.
Assistant hitting coach Mark Grace and third base coach Matt Williams were informed they would not be retained for the 2017 season. In addition, bullpen coach Gavin Alston is also not coming back.
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“Very difficult decision, and something we did not take lightly,” Hazen said. “Any time in which you have a situation where (there) is turnover at the highest level, it’s tough.”
Reports indicated pitching coach Mike Butcher and first base coach Dave McKay would return in their roles. Meanwhile, it is believed that bench coach Glenn Sherlock will remain in the organization, in a different capacity.
Hazen indicated the rest of the staff, including hitting coach Dave Magadan, remains under evaluation.
“We have not made any other decision right now,” Hazen said. “Everything else, we’re still trying to evaluate and put the pieces back together.”
The previous regime of general manager Dave Stewart and field manager Chip Hale hired Williams, Grace and Alston. Last season, the Diamondbacks expected to contend in the National League West, but plans were terribly array. Instead, Arizona finished with a 66-93 record, their third consecutive losing season. When expectations are not meet, changes often follow.
“Again, (the coaching) decisions were not made lightly, and those guys are very well regarded as players, Diamondbacks, coaches, managers with a lot of skill sets,” Hazen said. “But, we felt this was the right decision.”
When a new field manager is hired, the same precedent exists. Lovullo can not bring any Boston Red Sox’ coaches on board. Yet, he has autonomy over major-league coaches that stay or go.
“You have to give the manager some freedom to put a staff together, and that’s a responsibility that we have,” Hazen said.
Mike Hazen ( Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Front Office Coming Together
Earlier this week, Hazen added two executives to the front office.
The Diamondbacks hired Jared Porter as senior vice president and assistant general manager, and Josh Barfield as assistant director, professional scouting.
Porter spent 12 seasons in the Red Sox’ front office, where he worked directly with Hazen. For the last 13 months, Porter ran the Chicago Cubs’ professional scouting department.
Porter won three World Series with the Red Sox, and just a week ago, he celebrated again with the Cubs.
Barfield spent last season as a pro scout and will enter his third season with the Diamondbacks.
“It’s coming into shape,” Hazen said of his staff. “We still have some additions to make, but I think hopefully right now most of the losses, we know what those are at this point in that time.”
This past Tuesday, the Philadelphia Phillies hired Diamondbacks’ assistant GM Bryan Minniti as a special assistant to their general manager, Matt Klentak. Minniti, 36, worked in Stewart and Tony La Russa’s baseball operations department. Last month, Hazen hired his own assistant gm, Amiel Sawdaye.
Elsewhere, the club promoted Mike Bell from farm director to VP of player development. From 2011-2016, Bell was the Diamondbacks’ director of player development. The 2017 season will be Bell’s 11th year with the organization, and his 25th in professional baseball.