BOSTON -- Even before the Arizona Diamondbacks introduced new general manager Mike Hazen in a news conference Monday, the Red Sox were bracing for what might be his first order of business: Hiring away bench coach Torey Lovullo to be his manager.
"I'll be surprised, I would say, if they don't ask for permission to talk to Torey," Red Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski said. "I know how highly we think of him and how highly Mike thinks of him. Of course, we would not stand in Torey's way, as we discussed last week. In my opinion, he's ready to be a major league manager. Would he end up being their top selection? I can't answer that. We would not stand in his way."
Hazen and Lovullo have worked together for more than a decade, dating to their days in the Cleveland Indians organization. When Lovullo was hired to manage the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox, Hazen was the farm director.
Lovullo is widely regarded as a manager-in-waiting, having interviewed for a half-dozen openings over the past few years. He might have gotten a job last year after guiding the Red Sox to a 28-20 record while filling in for manager John Farrell, who was being treated for non-Hodgkin lymphoma. But Lovullo signed a two-year contract extension last October and agreed not to pursue managerial opportunities for at least a year.
Last week, after the American League East champion Red Sox were swept out of the division series by the Cleveland Indians, Dombrowski announced that Farrell will retain his job next season but deferred on picking up the manager's option for 2018.
The Red Sox also could lose additional baseball operations personnel, many of whom have worked with Hazen over the past 10 years in Boston. Hazen isn't prohibited from taking people with him to Arizona, perhaps hiring his assistant GM away from the Sox, although Dombrowski said he's "limited" in how much he can raid the front office.
"Could we lose somebody? Perhaps," Dombrowski said. "You're open to people talking to [Hazen]. Part of your responsibility in my role is to not only put a good team on the field, but it's also a situation where you help people grow. If somebody had such a large opportunity that exists with him that didn't exist here, we're open-minded to it, but it's also one of those where there is a limit and we would not let an abundance of personnel leave, by any means."
Regardless, the Red Sox will need to replace Hazen. Dombrowski said he would prefer to choose from a pool of internal candidates that could include former GMs Frank Wren and Allard Baird, vice president of international scouting Amiel Sawdaye and pro scouting director Gus Quattlebaum, who reported directly to Dombrowski this year. First base coach Ruben Amaro Jr. spent seven years as the Philadelphia Phillies general manager, though it's unclear whether he would want to return to the front office.
Dombrowski said it's possible the new GM's duties will differ slightly from Hazen's, depending on the background and skill set of the person hired for the job. One thing that won't change: Dombrowski will have final say in all personnel matters.
"I think depending on the person you hire and what their background is, you can kind of configure the responsibilities differently," Dombrowski said. "I think it's more important to get the right person into place that works for your organization."
The Red Sox don't have a timetable for hiring a new GM, although nothing appears imminent. Dombrowski has travel plans this weekend and will host organizational meetings next week in Boston.