In this afternoon’s conference call with the press, Mike Hazen made it clear that today’s signing of Eduardo Escobar is just the beginning of the off-season moves he will be making to shape the 2019 roster.
The main point of emphasis was clearly the flexibility that this move gives him, not only in terms of the position flexibility that Eduardo himself brings to the table, but also the flexibility this early signing gives the team with regards to how they pursue the rest of the off season.
By getting Eduardo into the fold quickly Hazen now has the flexibility to pursue other deals, knowing that he can go after the best possible situation and then determine final positions afterwards. This was my biggest takeaway from his comments. It really sounds like anything and everything is on the table, so let your imaginations run wild!
As for Eduardo, he is well aware that signing quickly may have caused him to leave some money on the table. However he was effusive in his praise of the organization , coaches and players for making him and his family feel welcome from the first day. He absolutely loves it here not only for himself, but also his family. Being where he is happy was clearly a priority for him. Kudos to him for making that choice, and kudos to the organization for making Arizona a place where quality people want to come and play. This kind of culture building is precisely what you hope to see. This is what a “hometown discount” actually looks like.
Here then is some of the Q&A transcript from the press call. Questions were asked by various members of the pool, including Steve Gilbert, Nick Piecoro, Zach Buchanan and others:
Q: How will Eduardo fit in with the current infield mix with the assumption that Jake Lamb will be back healthy at 3b ?
MH: I think we see Eduardo fitting in nicely just as he did in the course of the season. I think what we have on our roster currently and with Eduardo gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility. Guys that play multiple positions around the diamond. We’re going to hopefully use that to our advantage. How it will ultimately look at the end of the off season is still to be determined. We feel like there are at bats and opportunity for playing time even as currently constructed .
Q: Is Eduardo’s versatility a key in being able to do this at this point in time ?
MH: Yes, in terms of the flexibility among OTHERS that are on the roster currently that affords us the opportunity to be a little more aggressive in the off-season before we have those other answers in place.
Q: When trying to find creative avenues to create surplus, does that give you the flexibility to trade from that surplus:
MH: I think that is a possibility for sure, like I said before I don’t think it’s a precursor to anything specifically. But I think as you go into the off season feeling like you are strong or even to a place where you might have a surplus, I don’t see that as problem as you go into the off-season, I see that as a benefit to us. But we’ll see what the market dictates otherwise and where we might be able to continue to find avenues to continue to improve the club.
Q : Would you include 2b as one of the positions EE can play in terms of flexibility
MH: Yes. We foresee him being in he lineup every day. What that ultimately looks like we are not ready to talk through just yet, but again, we foresee him being in the lineup every day
OFF SEASON DIRECTION AND PLANS
Q: Is this an indication of a direction for the off-season:
MH: I don’t think I have a lot of blanket statements to make as of yet. We feel like this is one very strong step in a direction to fill one of the holes on our roster. But I don’t think it finishes off a lot of the work that we’re ultimately going to have to do to put the team where we need it to be. I would ask caution not to read to either side of those things. As much as we know fans are going to want to do that, it’s a long process for the off season. We still have some holes to fill, especially on the pitching side of things. There is still a lot of work left, so this is a great first step for us, but that’s what it is.
[Interjecting Jack’s thoughts] He can say what he wants, but this is not a move you make if you are “rebuilding” in the generally understood sense of the word. But the permutations of what a “retool” could look like seem endless.
Q Where are you at in getting a feel for the trade market:
MH: We are getting some idea. We have covered a majority of the league at this point. Still early in the process of figuring out what other teams are looking to do. There are still some teams that are either just out of the playoffs or still in it, so there’s no real conversation there yet obviously. Things will start to come together more in the next couple of weeks, through the GM meetings, etc.
QUESTIONS FOR EE
What made you decide to sign this extension with AZ and what did you like about your 2 months here
EE : Most important thing is there are special people here, everybody took care of my family, I like it here. Everyone has a warm mentality here. I’m happy to be here and ready for next season.
I felt part of the group and they treated me and my family very well, and made me feel at home from very beginning.
EE expressed a willingness to play whatever position, and he’ll be ready to play every day, no matter the position.
Where are you going to go to celebrate:
Here is an extended video link to an interview with Eduardo. Suggest you listen to his own words!