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If the Red Sox want to hit a home run, they’ll lure Mike Hazen back to Boston

If Red Sox want to hit a home run, they’ll lure Mike Hazen back to Boston originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

As the Red Sox search for Chaim Bloom’s replacement, the picture of their ideal candidate is emerging.

And it looks just like Mike Hazen.

In a perfect world, they would find someone with extensive experience in the No. 1 seat, and Hazen checks that box, thanks to seven years of leading the Diamondbacks.

The prospect should have a track record of recruiting and developing young talent, and in just a few weeks in 2019, Hazen drafted Corbin Carroll, this year’s runaway Rookie of the Year favorite, before All-Star right-hander Zac Gallen took over. a smart trade with the Marlins.

They’re clearly looking for someone who has won, and after a five-year rebuild, Hazen’s D-backs would be in the playoffs if the season ended today.

Finally, experience in Boston is a plus, and the Abington, Massachusetts native has a decade of that as well, thanks to his years as an assistant to Theo Epstein and Ben Cherington, followed by a year as general manager under Dave Dombrowski.

Let’s add one more: Hazen overlapped with Alex Cora when he played for the Red Sox from 2005 to 2008, and later interviewed Cora as Arizona’s manager before hiring Torey Lovullo instead. If the owner wants to keep Cora in the dugout, Hazen would be a good guy to hire.

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If there’s one mistake the Red Sox are desperate to avoid, it’s hiring someone who’s unproven. Their last GM search ended with just one interview, and in retrospect, Bloom wasn’t ready for Boston’s win-now push.

However, the job is currently a tough sell. Rivals view John Henry’s property with some skepticism, thanks to the revolving door nature of the course. The Red Sox are about to hire their fourth lead executive since Epstein left in 2011. While they boast exceptional stability in the assistant roles – Brian O’Halloran, Raquel Ferreira and Eddie Romero have more than 60 years of combined experience – the top job has proven far less secure.

As a result, the Red Sox begin their search from the unenviable position of, “If not Hazen, then who?” That gives their former executive leverage, which he could use to secure an expansion in Arizona, as noted by ESPN’s Buster Olney. Those who know Hazen well say he’s focused on getting the Diamondbacks to the playoffs, which makes sense considering the Boston job just opened and Arizona is just a half-game ahead of the Cubs and Marlins.

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It’s worth noting that the last time the Red Sox tried to fill this opening, the Diamondbacks responded by extending Hazen, taking him off the board. Maybe they’ll do that again and send the Red Sox to plans B, C and D.

The problem is that this setback could leave them with a group of new candidates. After all, another veteran executive with ties to New England, Connecticut native Chris Antonetti, declined to interview in 2019, instead staying with Cleveland. The same went for Minnesota’s Derek Falvey, a resident of Lynn, Mass., who couldn’t be enticed to leave the little Twins.

The Red Sox are now in better shape from a payroll and farm system perspective, but not from a talent perspective. Bloom took over a club with MVP Mookie Betts, All-Stars Xander Bogaerts, JD Martinez, Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi, and young potential stars in Rafael Devers and Andrew Benintendi. Now only Devers remains.

Bloom couldn’t bring himself to relinquish the prospects, and we’ll never know if that streak would have ended this winter. What we do know is that Hazen is not afraid to go big. He acquired Gallen by trading one of the top prospects in the game, shortstop Jazz Chisholm. Now Miami’s starting center, Chisholm made an All-Star team last year, but Hazen clearly has no regrets as Gallen is on his way to a second straight top-five finish in the NL Cy Young race.

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That’s the kind of move the Red Sox can point to and say, “We want that.” They even need permission from the Diamondbacks to interview Hazen, and it’s unclear if they will grant it.

What we do know is that the Red Sox can’t afford to sniff this hire. Bloom’s tenure may have replenished the farm, but at the expense of its top-tier product. That needs to change, and Hazen checks all the boxes except the most important one – we don’t know if he wants that.

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