Former pitcher Dave Stewart says he’s "very interested" in becoming general manager of the Diamondbacks, and one source with knowledge of the team’s search believes he is the front-runner for the job.
Stewart, now an agent, met Tuesday with club officials, as did another candidate, Red Sox assistant GM Allard Baird. The team intends to name its new GM by the end of the regular season.
Shortly after the season ends, the D-Backs also must act on manager Kirk Gibson and former GM Kevin Towers, who is waiting to decide whether to accept another position with the club.
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Both Gibson and Towers signed one-year extensions last February through 2015, according to CBSSports.com. Their respective contracts contain identical rollover clauses, sources said.
The clauses will extend their deals for another year, through ’16, if they are not dismissed by a set date after the season ends; Towers’ contract would need to be reworked anyway now that he is longer GM.
Gibson still could be retained even though the support for him among players is all but gone, according to sources. D-Backs chief baseball officer Tony La Russa, a former manager, "has an allegiance to people in uniform," and also has developed a good rapport with Gibson, one source said.
Towers’ future with the team, meanwhile, hinges on whether he would want to work under the next GM. He almost certainly would stay if the D-Backs chose Stewart, who worked for Towers as a special assistant and pitching coach with the Padres in the late 1990s.
"That would be the perfect situation for me," Stewart said.
The perception of Stewart as a favorite for the position stems from his relationship with La Russa, who was his manager with the Oakland A’s from 1986 to ’92.
La Russa, however, also has a history with two other candidates – Cardinals farm director Gary LaRocque, with whom he worked in St. Louis from 2008 to ’11, and D-backs scouting director Ray Montgomery, with whom La Russa became familiar after joining the team in May.
Dodgers assistant GM De Jon Watson will receive a second interview, according to CBSSports.com. Former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and former Astros GM Tim Purpura also have interviewed for the position.
"I’m very, very interested in it," said Stewart, who was the Blue Jays’ assistant GM from 1998 to 2001. "There are some real strong possibilities there. The opportunity to work with Tony makes it worth doing."
There is a complication, however: If Stewart is offered the job and wants to accept it, he will either need to sell his business, Sports Management Partners (SMP), or leave it to the other agents in the firm.
Stewart said that Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and other clients have committed to stay with SMP if the company remains intact without him.
The arrangement would be similar to when Jeff Moorad left the agent business to become owner and CEO of the D-Backs in 2004. Three experienced agents — Greg Genske, Brian Peters and Scott Parker — took over Moorad’s firm.