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Sources: Changes likely on the way for Padres
Multiple major league sources indicated to FOXSports.com on Friday that Padres CEO Jeff Moorad is contemplating major changes among the team's management personnel. Kevin Towers, the general manager since 1995, could be affected despite having another year on his contract.
In a story published Thursday night by MLB.com, Moorad stopped short of saying that Towers will return next year. He told the website: "We're continuing our evaluation and assessment of multiple parts of the organization, baseball included. At this point, Kevin is our general manager, and is under contract through the 2010 season."
When ownership won't commit to a general manager this close to the start of the off-season the time when executives do some of their most crucial work it's generally a strong indication that the GM's job is in jeopardy.
The Padres conclude their season at home on Sunday against the Giants. If Towers is dismissed or reassigned soon after that, speculation will likely center on two possible successors: Jerry DiPoto, Diamondbacks vice president of personnel; and Paul DePodesta, the former Dodgers GM and current Padres executive vice president.
Moorad worked with DiPoto during his tenure as part owner and CEO of the Diamondbacks and has a very high opinion of him. DiPoto, a former major league pitcher, was a strong candidate for the Washington GM opening earlier this year. (It's not known if there is some agreement between the clubs about how soon Moorad will be permitted to hire Diamondbacks employees.)
DePodesta was hired by former Padres CEO Sandy Alderson and has worked under Moorad for less than one year. But DePodesta is said to have a good relationship with Moorad.
DePodesta has something else working in his favor: He is under contract with the Padres through 2011, so Moorad could promote him without spending the money necessary to hire from outside the organization.
That would likely have great appeal for the cost-conscious Padres, who have trimmed their player payroll this year. DePodesta's present salary is believed to be comparable to that of many GMs around the league.
"Sandy took good care of him," one source said.
Regardless of who holds the GM job, two sources said Friday that they believe Chris Gwynn, currently a pro scout with the organization, will receive a promotion following this season.
Moorad worked as Chris Gwynn's agent during the former outfielder's playing career, which began in the mid-1980s. Gwynn played for the Padres during the 1996 season his final one in the majors and his family's prior and current links to the franchise certainly won't hurt his advancement.
One person in the industry described Gwynn as being a good fit for a leadership role in player development, player personnel or scouting.
The scouting and player development departments have been under the domain of club vice president Grady Fuson since the end of the 2005 season.
Like Towers, Fuson is under contract for next year. Like Towers, it's not clear what role if any Fuson will have with the club in 2010. One source indicated that there is a possibility Fuson will be fired or reassigned within the organization.
The Padres entered Friday fourth in the National League West with a 74-85 record. Their front office was destined to have at least some change in personnel this off-season since Jeff Kingston, previously their director of baseball operations, left to become an assistant general manager with the Seattle Mariners.
Among current general managers, Towers has the longest active tenure with the same club. He has reached the postseason four times and won the 1998 National League pennant.