BOSTON -- It's no secret that Dave Dombrowski drives the bus as president of baseball operations for the Boston Red Sox. But Mike Hazen was never just along for the ride.
Hazen was the point man on the July trade for veteran infielder Aaron Hill, a deal which wound up paying few dividends but also came at minimal cost. His expertise in multiple areas allowed him to bridge the scouting and analytics branches of the organization. As general manager for the past 13 months, he had a prominent, often loud voice in all personnel moves, large and small, even though Dombrowski had the final say.
But Hazen's most profound impact on Dombrowski's Red Sox might come in his departure.
On Sunday, the Arizona Diamondbacks announced they hired Hazen as their executive vice president and general manager, a process which accelerated this week after the Red Sox were swept out of the playoffs. The title is the same he held with the Sox, but the responsibility is decidedly greater. In Arizona, the buck will stop with Hazen, a 40-year-old Massachusetts native who won't be prohibited from hiring Red Sox colleagues to elevated positions in Arizona, according to a major league source.
Most notably, Hazen figures to give strong consideration to Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo for the Diamondbacks' managerial position, which opened last week when Chip Hale was fired. Hazen and Lovullo have worked together for more than a decade, dating to their time in the Cleveland Indians organization, and maintain a close relationship.
And Hazen's defection coincides with Dombrowski's announcement last week that Lovullo is free to pursue managerial openings. Last year, the Sox signed Lovullo to a two-year contract extension with the caveat that he would pass on interviewing elsewhere while manager John Farrell continued his recovery from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
"I hope he stays with us," Dombrowski said of Lovullo. "But I also understand that if people come asking to talk to Torey, we would be open to granting that request."
Hazen also could pluck a few Red Sox baseball operations staffers, almost all of whom have worked alongside him longer than they have worked for Dombrowski. It wouldn't be surprising to see Hazen bring at least one member of the front office to serve as his assistant general manager.
Dombrowski declined to comment on Hazen's departure or the potential fallout until after the Diamondbacks hold their press conference. But it's believed the Red Sox intend to name a general manager to replace Hazen and serve as Dombrowski's right-hand man.
There are several internal candidates, including former general managers Frank Wren and Allard Baird. First-base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. spent seven seasons as GM of the Philadelphia Phillies.
Wren, in particular, has a long history with Dombrowski, having worked with him in Montreal and Miami before joining him with the Red Sox last year. But Wren also was based out of Atlanta this season, and it's not clear if he would relocate to Boston.
Many industry insiders view Red Sox vice president of amateur scouting Amiel Sawdaye as a future general manager. Sawdaye gets credit for the drafting of the team's talented young players, including American League MVP candidate Mookie Betts in the fifth round in 2011.
If Lovullo joins Hazen in the desert, the Red Sox will need a new bench coach. Longtime catcher and former team captain Jason Varitek would be a popular choice with fans. Varitek, who interviewed last year for the Seattle Mariners' managerial vacancy, has spent the past few years in a hybrid role as a special assistant to the general manager and an instructor.