PHOENIX — Even before he publicly flogged his own trade-deadline effort in a postmortem press conference Thursday, Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Mike Hazen was regretful.
“The one thing I didn’t bring back was a starter, which I wish we had done,” Hazen said during batting practice before Game 1 of the World Series. “Having Jordan Montgomery would have helped us a ton.
“I wish we did more. … You want to cover up every hole you have on your roster. I do. That’s my job, and we didn’t do that. We went into the ALCS without a fourth starter, now we’re going into the World Series. We’ll see what we do in Game 4, but having Jordan Montgomery would have helped us a ton.”
Montgomery, of course, was in the other dugout, and was one of several starting pitchers the Texas Rangers were in on at the deadline, Hazen said — one of the several starting pitchers the team did not land.
“I chased every starting pitcher in the free market,” Hazen added on Thursday.
The irony is that Hazen, with a team that wasn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, moved to better the group anyway — rolled the dice, essentially. And the results were terrible coming out of the trade deadline, to boot. The D-backs lost nine straight to start August, and from July 20 to Aug. 11 went 3-16.
Yet, without those moves, acquiring Tommy Pham and Paul Sewald alongside Jace Peterson and Peter Strzelecki, the Diamondbacks probably never get to the World Series at all.
“That’s what we’re supposed to do. We’re here to help our team, put them in the best position to win,” Hazen said. “Any chance we’re gonna have to compete for a playoff spot, we’re gonna buy.’ … We’ve been so bad, having the opportunity to buy was in and of itself for me.”
It’s not too hard for a front office to fall into a prospect-hoarding and risk-averse M.O. But this World Series was a feather in the cap for those who would yell, “Push the button.” Both Hazen and Rangers counterpart Chris Young advanced their teams in the middle of the year by taking on risk. The results could have been different, of course. But they weren’t adhering to a calculus strictly of probability and long-term value.
“From our standpoint, it was six years of losing, this team got off to a great start,” said Young, who traded for Montgomery along with Max Scherzer, Aroldis Chapman and more. “They put themselves in first place in a position to make a run in the second half.”
For the D-Backs, a deal with the Cardinals for Montgomery never got close. But a bleary-eyed Hazen on Thursday laid into himself further for his deadline choices, with the benefit of hindsight.
It wasn’t just a general regret, the kind of we-always-need-to-get-better cliche that GMs love. There might have been a little of that in Hazen’s words — but there are indeed specific potential deals Hazen said he thinks back to, without offering specifics.
“Yes,” Hazen said Thursday. “Were there ways we could have pushed other deals in different directions? I do not regret not trading Alek Thomas or Brandon Pfaadt, I wouldn’t have done that again today.
“Were there other avenues that we could have pushed, by adding more prospects in the deals where it didn’t include those guys? Where I should have gone down that route? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to those things. But I know I didn’t get a starting pitcher. And that’s on me.”
And so too are the deals that got the Diamondbacks to the World Series in the first place, deals some of Hazen’s counterparts in the sport might not have found safe enough in the first place.
(Top photo of Mike Hazen: Daniel Shirey / MLB Photos via Getty Images)