PHOENIX – After success, there are the inevitable joys of triumph. A glimpse of that transpired in May and that’s when the Arizona Diamondbacks roared off to an effective start.
By June 1, the club was 34-23 and surpassed the Los Angeles Dodgers atop of the National League West division. At that time, manager Torey Lovullo was given a one-year contract extension through the end of the 2024 season and a promise from Mike Hazen, the club’s general manager, of possible extension.
After running through an original five-year deal that ended with the 2021 season, Lovullo has existed on one-year deals since.
The extension conversation remained dormant through the recent summer months, but always flashing on both Lovullo and Hazen’s radar screen.
Following the Diamondbacks’ improbable run to the World Series, this discussion quickly accelerated and culminated just one week after Arizona was defeated in baseball’s ultimate post-season showcase.
“I told (Hazen) I’m not good at extensions but only honoring my current contract,” Lovullo told the Arizona media on a conference call Thursday night. “I’m good at understanding my position and what the D-backs have shown me. I told Mike, it’s up to you. Literally, the day the season ended, he reminded me that we will have this conversation and I asked to give it a day or two to talk this over and decompress.”
Within a matter of a few days and a timeline Lovullo established, Hazen came back with the extension and told Lovullo that the organization wanted to get that done as soon as possible. Lovullo agreed and will now manage the club with a two-year extension through the 2026 season.
Over the past few years, and even when the Diamondbacks went through the nadir of a 52-110, 2021 season, Lovullo talked about his desire to remain in Sedina Red and his attachment to the Phoenix area.
Each originally signed by Arizona in October 2016, Lovullo and Hazen have strong relationships going back to their time in Boston. The friendships have deepened and the contract extension, after reaching the World Series, appeared a formality.
In forging success in 2023, Lovullo cited player development from Corbin Carroll, Alek Thomas and others. These players, he pointed out, represent the core and nucleus for success, but they are not alone. After news broke of Lovullo’s extension through the 2026 season, many made contact.
“Several players reached out and those are the kind of things that mean more to me than anything else,” Lovullo added. “When you get the back-handed compliments from your players, and as heartfelt as they have been saying, that means more to me than anything. The players trust the relationship I have with them and these are precious. Many people do not know how close I am with this group of players and, again, that means more to me than they know. I responded, and let them know how appreciative I am.”
During the media session on Thursday, Lovullo was not asked, nor addressed, any plans to strengthen the club or off-season plans. Now is the time for Lovullo to enjoy the moment of success and then think about building on the World Series experience.
At the same time, this gives the franchise, at best, a certain stability that follows success.
Elsewhere …With all post-season awards named by next week, the Diamondbacks are represented in several categories. … For the Gold Glove, announced earlier this week, first baseman Christian Walker captured his second consecutive Gold Glove and rookie Gabriel Moreno took the Gold Glove award at catcher for the National League. … Corbin Carroll is a finalist for NL rookie-of-the-year and the odds-on favorite to capture the honor. No Arizona rookie has ever won this award … for the Cy Young Award, Zac Gallen is one of three finalists. Randy Johnson took the award four times and Brandon Webb captured one NL Cy Young, each with Arizona. … on the diamond, the Diamondbacks declined the option for closer Mark Melancon, and bought out his option for $2 million. Melancon missed the entire 2023 season that required platelet-rich plasma injections to address a subscapularis strain.