Michael McDermott already covered the basics of the trade that took place today between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Kansas City Royals in which they swapped reliever Luke Weaver for right handed hitting third baseman Emmanuel Rivera.
General Manager Mike Hazen met with the media via ZOOM to discuss the trade. His reasoning was straight forward. They wanted to get more right handed and they liked the player. But there was also some good Q&A about the struggles of Weaver, converting pitchers to relief roles, (or not), and some Corbin Martin discussion as well.
Mike Hazen audio
General Thoughts on Trade
“We felt like getting a little bit more right handed for now and into the future. Rivera is a guy we’ve liked for a while for his ability to hit left handed pitching and play the corner, third base.
Luke being in our pen , where that was going to go in the future, we decided this was something that we were going to swing now . It probably could have been something that we waited until the off season. But we felt like this was the right time to do it.”
What did you like about Rivera ?
“Especially the ability to hit left handed pitching. We’ve talked about this a lot . It is an area for us that is a little better lately, coming into yesterday. But something for us in the future that we need to improve upon, given as left handed as we are all the way around.”
Career Splits: (Note sample size)
When is he going to report ?
They do not have the exact timing and logistics finalized yet.
Will he play anywhere else besides third base given the lack of innings at any other position?
“Not exactly sure yet. We’ll obviously have to get him and work with him a little bit. The expectation will be third base for now. With Josh [Rojas at third obviously] we’re not exactly sure how we’re going to maneuver things around, but with the DH and third base and things like that we’ll have options to.....he’s going to see a lot of starts against lefties. So we’ll figure out exactly where that is. Right now probably third base, we’ll see where that moves into the future.”
[Jack’s note:] This was a difficult section to transcribe. He clearly was trying to pick his words as he didn’t seem to want to come right out and say it would be a platoon with Rojas, but that’s what it sounded like to me. Rojas has handled LHP , in fact he has a reverse split, although those are usually unsustainable long term.
What do you think happened to Luke after starting off so well in 2019 ?
“I’m not exactly sure. 2019 he was electric. Then the injury happened, then the second injury happened, we were just put behind the 8 ball and then time ticked away on us. It’s unfortunate. He’s got a great arm. We loved who he is as a competitor .
Coming into the off season the decision we were going to have to make with regard to how we were going to use him and whether or not that was going to make it with us .”
Are you saying how Weaver is going to price himself into what kind of role he was going to have next year?
Not necessarily. It just think it was going to be a decision for us, a factor. Whether he was a reliever or whether he was a starter , all those things that we are not going to make a decision on now in the future. If you get to the point where you carry all the way through the season and it’s not going to work for you, you’re not in a great spot.
[Jack’s note:] Weaver is making $2.9M this year. 2023 is final arb year, likely to be well in excess of $3M. Hazen intimated they probably would not have non tendered him, but it would have been a decision to make. He also emphasized they got a right handed hitter they wanted for a pitcher that was going to be a reliever, and that was the biggest reason.
Any more trades coming ?
There’s still a decent amount of activity and conversation happening. It’s not like it’s been quiet, so anything can really happen.
How do you evaluate the trade you made to get Weaver ?
Mike talked about the fact that Weaver was leading the pitching staff before getting injured, but that pitching can be mercurial and one bad pitch, one injury can cause a player to miss six months. He credited Luke for working hard to make it back.
Can you evaluate the process for determining how and when to convert a starter to reliever?
“We don’t usually make those decisions very quickly, right? We try not to. I think finding starting pitching, if you just evaluate the trade returns that are out there right now...(chuckles), I think it’s pretty clear what happens when you have a starting pitcher that can pitch in the top of the rotation, vs. any non closing reliever at times. I think we exhaust those opportunities whenever we can.”
Mike went on to explain the decision to convert Luke this year finally took place because they wanted him back sooner than the time to ramp back up as a starter would have taken.
He also indicated we are likely to see some of the younger pitching prospects get some opportunity in MLB over the final two months in relief roles just to get their feet wet at this level, but ultimately transition back to starting for next season.
What went into pulling the plug on Corbin Martin vs. just letting him work through some of his struggles.
“It’s a fair question. It’s a debatable question. We just felt like the secondary stuff wasn’t landing to the degree that it needed to land. We need to work on that. We need to improve it. I mean he certainly got some more swings and misses this time. I think there’s some positives to take away from this run. But I think at the same time there’s a higher bar here to hit as a starting pitcher.
We debate those same questions. What is the right thing to do ? Let a guy go out and grind? As a starting pitcher it’s kind of the hardest thing to do. From my perspective because when the starting pitchers are grinding, the team has to grind in a lot of case and that means the bullpen has to grind too.”
[Jack’s note] I thought that last quote highlighted above was pretty interesting way to summarize it. Listening to him speak further I definitely got the sense that he had lost patience with Martin, and that it’s time to give other guys opportunity.