There’s a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the status of the Diamondbacks’ front office, as both chief baseball officer Tony La Russa and GM Dave Stewart have seen the deadline for their 2017 options to be exercised pushed back from the end of August until after the season. The D-backs have already parted ways with senior vice president De Jon Watson, and CEO Derrick Hall said yesterday in an appearance on the Doug and Wolf Show on 98.7 FM in Arizona that decisions on La Russa and Stewart would come quickly after the season ended.
“It’s something that will happen relatively quickly after the season,” said Hall. “I mean, we decided — along with ownership — that they wanted to wait until after the season, I understand why, and there is a thorough process going on, which is great, but I think whether it’s still going to be Tony here, whether it’s going to be Stew here, the decision has to be made quickly for them because they’ve got a lot of plans.”
La Russa himself was a guest with Doug and Wolf the previous day and suggested that he wouldn’t agree to stay with the organization in the event that ownership decided it wanted to retain him but part ways with Stewart (audio link to the interview, plus some written highlights from the Arizona Republic’s Nick Piecoro). “I think there’s a matter of integrity, as far as personal integrity, and it’s hard for me to see agreeing to let somebody go that I don’t think should be let go,” said La Russa. “… I just think that hopefully I’m not put in that position.”
The chief baseball officer also recognized that there’s no certainty surrounding his own status, adding, “By the way, I think there’s an equally good chance that they’re going to say, ’Look, I’ve watched you for two and a half years, and we’re worse now or almost as we were in 2014, so you can just pack your bag as well.’ So I’m not assuming anything.” Furthermore, he emphasized that ownership has had enough time to evaluate both him and Stewart, stating that he wouldn’t consider any decision “unfair” in any way.
Regarding Watson, Hall explained in his interview that the SVP insisted that he wanted to know his fate before the season came to a close: “De Jon was in a place where he wanted to know (about his future) earlier, and ultimately Stew and Tony — and he did report to Tony — they decided that they were going to let him know that he was not going to be renewed.” La Russa, meanwhile, implied that there was no way they could give Watson the certainty that he desired at this point, so the decision to part ways was reached.
Hall also said in his interview that he’d be understanding if the ultimate decision was that the team wished to part with Stewart, but La Russa also walked away due to his loyalty. “I get it when Tony is defending him and always will — this is his guy, and he always has been his guy, and they have a wonderful relationship,” said Hall. “So if that scenario did come to fruition and that’s the decision Tony made, I get it. And I wouldn’t fault him for that.”
Meanwhile, manager Chip Hale recently told reporters, including MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert, that the organization’s focus remains on the team. While Hale conceded that it’s “natural” to wonder about his future when he’s on his own time, he’s not dwelling on his status, nor is La Russa or Stewart. “Everybody’s been so good — Tony, Stew — we’ve talked baseball, talked about the club, how guys are doing in the Minors at different levels, who we’re going to protect [over the winter], things like that,” Hale explained. “We’re just keeping it all baseball.” While Hale is signed through the 2017 season, changes in baseball operations hierarchy often beget changes to the field staff, including the manager.