Lovullo next in line for extension as D defenders grow

LOS ANGELES – D-backs general manager Mike Hazen and his assistant general managers recently received contract extensions. It looks like manager Torey Lovullo could be next after Arizona’s postseason ends.

Hazen hired Lovullo shortly after he took over at Arizona following the 2016 season, and the two have developed a great partnership despite the ups of the 2017 playoffs and this year’s season – and the downs of a 110-loss 2021 season.

In early June this year, Hazen extended Lovullo’s contract until 2024. This was then done to coincide with Hazen’s contract, which was also set to expire at the end of the 2024 season.

Hazen indicated that a new deal with Lovullo could come after the season.

“Torey and I talked when we renewed the contract [his contract] for a year,” Hazen said. “I said, ‘Listen, we’ve got to get through the rest of the season. I said if something good happens, we make the playoffs and get to where we need to be, that he and I will have another conversation.

“I said, ‘I promise I’ll sit down with you and we’ll talk about this again sometime.'”

Lovullo has made no secret of how much he and his family love living in Arizona and enjoys his relationship with baseball operations.

“I think this is a statement from this organization about what they believe Mike Hazen and his group do well every day,” Lovullo said when Hazen’s contract extension was announced. “I believe in continuity. I believe in connection. That tells me that even though we’ve had some really tough times here, they believe in the process and they trust what’s going on from the dugout and up into the office.”

Lovullo’s team earned a wild card spot in his first year at the helm and finished above .500 in 2018 and 2019.

The D-backs ended their playoff hunt in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, and the organization hit rock bottom in 2021. All the while, the D-backs — from Ken Kendrick and Derrick Hall on the ownership level to Hazen — stood behind Lovullo, a fact he hasn’t forgotten .

“We are extremely excited about our manager, his style, his philosophy and the relationships he maintains,” Hall said in announcing Hazen’s contract extension. “He and our CEO are obviously very close.”

With other teams in the news lately due to the rift between their executive and manager, the D defenders value the working relationship that Hazen and Lovullo have.

“I look at things every day,” Lovullo said, “especially now with some of the changes happening and hearing about the relationship between front offices and managers, I can’t even imagine it because I know how healthy and strong the relationship is that comes from Ken, to me. We are grateful for that.”

Lovullo’s greatest strength as a manager is his ability to build relationships with his players.

This starts when they are playing in the lower leagues, as he has been known to send text messages to some of the organization’s prospects to praise them for playing well or boost their confidence when they may be struggling.

D-backs right tackle Zac Gallen credited Lovullo with helping him develop as a player. When he joined Arizona on Trade Deadline in 2019, he had appeared in just seven Major League games. Now he is the staff ace and team leader.

“I think he saw the bigger picture and that kind of laid the foundation for his later career and tried to instill some leadership qualities,” Gallen said. “And I think he lets the guys be themselves. I think that’s the most important thing.

“It’s not necessarily old school [where] things have to be done a certain way. If you do your job and do what you need to do, he will let you do what makes you feel comfortable. But if things get out of balance and such, he will put an end to it. But if you’re performing and being respectful, other than that, be yourself and have fun. He tries to make the game easier for the boys.

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