Jun 11, 2014; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Former MLB manager Tony La Russa prior to the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
After his team took 2 of 3 from the Padres to start the homestand, Diamondbacks Chief Baseball Officer Tony La Russa announced that he was closer to narrowing down the list of 10 candidates to a few finalists according to baseball sources that talked to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com The first round of discussions involved 10 candidates including Dbacks scouting director Ray Montgomery, Cardinals executive Gary LaRocque, Dodgers assistant G.M Dejon Watson, Rangers assistant G.M Thad Levine, ex-Marlins G.M Larry Beinfest, Red Sox executive Allard Baird, Angels executive Hal Morris, Yankees assistant G.M Billy Eppler, and ex-Astros G.M. Tim Purpura.
Fox Sports MLB Insider Ken Rosenthal tweeted that Eppler will not interview for the Diamondbacks G.M. opening. Eppler had interviewed for the Padres G.M. opening, but Rangers assistant G.M. A.J. Preller got the San Diego job. Eppler decided to remain committed to his position with the Yankees saying that he simply wasn’t interested in the Arizona job. The only way he would have left for the Yankees is if he would have gotten the Padres job. Earlier today, Jeff Wilson who covers the Rangers Fort Worth Star Telegram tweeted that Levine has told La Russa that he will not seek the Dbacks vacant G.M. job. That means that the list is down to 8 strong candidates.
Meanwhile, Rosenthal also tweeted that player-agent and former player and executive Dave Stewart will interview for the job this week. Stewart is viewed by most as the favorite for the job, though it was never a guarantee that he would get the job. Stewart was reportedly hesitant to take the job because of the close relationships he has formed with players as an agent. He treats them like family, and he wasn’t going to rush to a major decision without talking to them, and seeing what the Arizona job could offer. Among others, Stewart represents Dodgers OF Matt Kemp, Chad Billingsley, and the Astros Chris Carter.
Stewart also has a close relationship with La Russa. He posted four 20 win seasons for La Russa’s Athletics during his playing career, and many believe that La Russa trusts him and thinks he should get a chance to be a general manager. Stewart is very knowledgeable about the game of baseball, and he has the most diverse resume of any of the candidates. Stewart was the assistant General Manager of the Blue Jays, and has previously interviewed for the G.M. jobs in Toronto and Milwaukee.
Cardinals executive Gary LaRocque is also seen as a favorite because of his relation with La Russa. Watson is credited with turning around the Dodgers farm system. The likes of Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp have both come up through the Dodgers system, and they have some of the top prospects in baseball right now in Joc Pederson, and Corey Seager. Baird is credited with helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2013 thanks to 6 free agent signings all of which he was apart of. Montgomery is an intriguing pick because La Russa really likes the work he did during this year’s first year player draft. My colleague Tom Lynch wrote an intriguing piece on why Beinfest should be the Diamondbacks G.M, and you can read it here.
Whoever La Russa selects to be the General Manager, Diamondbacks fans can trust his judgement. La Russa hopes to get the process wrapped up by the end of the regular season.