PHOENIX — "We need to do better...There are no excuses."
That's the sentiment from Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen after the team was among the most active in Major League Baseball on Monday's trade deadline, trading away four notable players.
Arizona first dealt starting pitcher Robbie Ray to Toronto, then in the final hour before the deadline, the team traded outfielder Starling Marte to Miami, reliever Andrew Chafin to the Cubs and pitcher Archie Bradley to Cincinnati.
The D-backs sit at 14-21 and in 5th place in the NL West. Hazen said the first half of the season has obviously not gone as expected.
“There are times that you just chalk it up to a bad year and you go do the whole thing over again and hope that you’re going to get a different result," Hazen said. "I think there are some things that we need to improve upon that are my responsibility to improve upon from a roster standpoint that has cost us some games this year. Having the flexibility to go out and do that in the (next) offseason was important to us."
All four trades were difficult to make, Hazen acknowledged. Ray had been with the club since 2015 and Bradley and Chafin were both Arizona first-round draft picks and developed by the organization.
Hazen said he acknowledges that Bradley was a fan favorite and while he says he has to separate emotions in his job with every decision he makes, he said personal feelings do seep over.
"Nobody worked harder than Archie Bradley did," Hazen said. "To come up as a starting pitcher to emerge when he did in 2017 out of the pen. To tell us consistently no matter how many times we tried to keep the closer role away from him that all he wanted to do was win. And he didn’t care what role it was and he didn’t care if it cost him money and all he wanted to do was pitch in the best spot possible for the team. That’s who he’s been since the day I met him."
While it was one thing to trade three players that had been with the team for five-plus years, the D-backs also traded away Starling Marte, who they had just acquired prior to this season from the Pirates. Marte was batting third for the D-backs and hitting .311 and the team traded away two highly regarded prospects for him.
Hazen said he never could've imagined the team would only get 35 games out of Marte.
"It’s always risky when teams in our position make risky trades from a high-prospect capital," Hazen said. "Those are probably some of the riskiest things that we do. But we’re going to do them again if we have the opportunity if it’s going to move the needle on our major league team. In fact, I think we’re better positioned for that now, given what we just did.”
When asked by Team 12's Cameron Cox about what his message to fans is on a day like this, Hazen wasn't making any excuses related to injury or the pandemic.
"It’s not a position that we felt like we were going to be in nor are we proud of being in this position," he said. "This isn’t what we envisioned when 2020 started and there are no excuses with that, it doesn’t matter what the dynamic has been. We have not played well. We need to do a better job as an organization, starting with me, building a more robust roster that can handle some of the injury situations that come up."
"It’s not a position that I hope to be in again. But at some point, I think this job requires you to take long-term strategic decisions for the organization for the health of the organization to be able to pivot quickly when things don’t go your way and that was the decision we made."
In the Ray deal, the D-backs acquired left-handed reliever Travis Bergen. In the Marte deal, the team acquired left-handed pitcher Caleb Smith and right-handed pitcher Humberto Mejía. In the Bradley deal, the team acquired utility player Josh VanMeter and outfielder Stuart Fairchild.
As for his plans for those players on how much action they see for the remaining 25 games, Hazen doesn't know yet.
“It’s not a traditional just jump right in," he said. "They’re going to have to come here and intake screen, pass all the COVID protocols and then we’ll figure out what we’re going to do.”
As for the rest of the team and the rest of the season?
"The expectation for these next 25 games is that we’re going to go out there and play as hard as we possibly can and challenge whatever we can possibly challenge,” Hazen said. “My expectation for what that might mean for wins and losses has to match up to what I just did to the roster.”