D’Backs Hire Tony La Russa To Oversee Operations

5:34pm: LaRussa receives a multi-year deal, reports Jack Magruder of FOX Sports Arizona (Twitter link). The club had been exploring the possibility of a change in the baseball ops department for about a month.

5:16pm: Team president and CEO Derrick Hall says that Arizona interviewed several other candidates, some of whom would have occupied a similar role to that now handed to LaRussa and others who would have taken over at general manager, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (via Twitter).

While that certainly raises some additional doubt as to Towers’ situation, Bob Nightengale of USA Today writes on Twitter that LaRussa is expected to exercise patience in determining the path forward and will likely not take action on Towers and/or Gibson until late in the season.

In terms of what LaRussa’s role will be, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (Twitter link) analogizes it to that of Theo Epstein with the Cubs, noting that it has some crossover with the former position of Nolan Ryan with the Rangers. Hall says that LaRussa will have “final say” over “any decisions that will be made from the personnel side,” tweets Steve Berthiaume of MLB.com.

11:40am: The Diamondbacks announced that they have appointed Tony La Russa as their Chief Baseball Officer.  La Russa will report to team president & CEO Derrick Hall and oversee the entire baseball operations department.

The entire organization is obviously frustrated with the results on the field and we are looking to improve,” Hall said in the press release. “Tony brings us a wealth of knowledge, experience and success, and will work closely with [General Manager Kevin Towers] and [manager Kirk Gibson] in evaluating our current state to determine the future of our baseball operations. He is excited and enthusiastic about the challenge, and we are fortunate to have this Hall of Famer on board and a part of the team.

After an active offseason, the Diamondbacks find themselves at the bottom of the NL West with a 16-28 record, putting them 11.5 games behind the first-place Giants.  As a big league manager, La Russa won three World Series titles, six League Championships, 12 division titles, and was a four-time Manager of the Year.  He was previously working as a Special Assistant to Commissioner Bud Selig.

It remains to be seen how La Russa’s arrival will impact Towers and Gibson.  Towers has been Arizona’s GM since September of 2010.  Gibson was appointed interim manager in July 2010 and was promoted to the permanent role after the season.

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