A little more than a year ago, the promotion of Mike Hazen from assistant general manager under Ben Cherington to Red Sox general manager under Dave Dombrowski represented a considerable signal of organizational continuity at a time of leadership transition.
Now, however, Hazen is leaving the Red Sox, raising the possibility of a further round of changes inside the Red Sox front office that could reach down to the dugout.
On Sunday afternoon, the Diamondbacks announced they hired Hazen as their executive vice president and general manager. In that position, Hazen will be in a position of ultimate authority in Arizona’s decision-making structure. In Boston, he was subordinate to Dombrowski, who is president of baseball operations.
“We feel very strongly that we have found the ideal candidate to lead our baseball operations,” Diamondbacks managing general partner Ken Kendrick said. “Mike’s reputation throughout the game is impeccable, and his championship experience gives us great confidence in naming him to this position.”
“Mike’s background is the perfect balance of scouting, player development, and analytics, which will all play an important role going forward,” Diamondbacks CEO/president Derrick Hall said. “He’s a natural leader who we feel fortunate to have been able to hire, and we welcome him and his family to Arizona.”
The process by which the Diamondbacks hired Hazen, who was hired by the Red Sox as director of player development prior to the 2006 season and spent a decade in a variety of front office positions, moved quickly. According to a major league source, the Diamondbacks reached out to the Red Sox at the end of the regular season after they decided to part ways with GM Dave Stewart.
At the time, the Sox asked the Diamondbacks to hold off until the end of their playoff run. After the Sox were bounced from the playoffs last Monday, Hall requested and was given permission to interview Hazen, who interviewed in Arizona on Friday. By Sunday morning, he’d agreed to a deal to become the Diamondbacks’ head of baseball operations, with an announcement following in the afternoon.
According to one major league source, Hazen isn’t prohibited from hiring members of the Red Sox organization, though he did make clear to team officials that he has no intention of a raid on Sox personnel. That said, if Hazen requests permission to interview Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo for Arizona’s vacant managerial position, the team would grant it.
It remains to be seen how the Red Sox will address the void Hazen leaves in their organization.
“While this is certainly a significant loss for the Red Sox organization, we are extremely happy for Mike and his family as they begin this new opportunity in Arizona,” said Dombrowski in a statement. “As one of the most respected young baseball executives in the game, Mike is more than deserving of this position. On behalf of the club, we would like to thank Mike for his 11 years of service to the Red Sox and wish him well in his new role. He will be missed by all of his colleagues here at the Boston Red Sox.
“In the meantime, a search for a new general manager for the Boston Red Sox is underway.”
When the Red Sox do hire another GM, the role may be different from the one served by Hazen, depending on that individual’s strengths.
The Red Sox would have no shortage of candidates. Internally, the team has a pair of senior vice presidents — Allard Baird and Frank Wren — who have experience as general managers. Assistant GM Brian O’Halloran has worked closely with Dombrowski in the last 14 months, as has VP of amateur and international scouting Amiel Sawdaye and VP of international scouting Eddie Romero.
It’s worth noting that when Dombrowski hired Hazen as GM last year, he also interviewed Astros director of player development Quinton McCracken.
For now, it remains to be seen what dominos fall in light of Hazen’s departure. The lone initial conclusion reached by the organization is a sense that the team is losing an executive whose ability to blend the realms of scouting, player development, and analytics made him an enormous asset over the last 11 seasons.